Review of Ultra-processed people: Why we can’t stop eating food that isn’t food


  • Jennifer Sumner University of Toronto



ultra-processed foods, obesity, food system change


Given the ubiquity of UPF, this book fills a vital gap in our knowledge. Thankfully, it is easy to read, combining research and interviews with personal anecdotes and amusing glimpses of van Tulleken family life. For those of us involved in food studies, the book adds an extra layer of urgency: van Tulleken proposes that UPF destroys the meaning of food—it becomes a technical substance without cultural or historical meaning. To avoid this outcome, let alone the millions of early deaths caused by poor diets that are increasingly made up of UPF, we need to better understand ultra-processed food and work to change the food system that allows these substances to flourish.

Author Biography

Jennifer Sumner, University of Toronto

Jennifer Sumner teaches in the Adult Education and Community Development Program of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Her research interests include food studies, sustainable food systems, and the political economy of food, as well as globalization, sustainability, and organic agriculture. She is the author of the book Sustainability and the Civil Commons: Rural Communities in the Age of Globalization (University of Toronto Press 2005/2007), co-editor of Critical Perspectives in Food Studies (Oxford University Press 2012/2016), and editor of Learning, Food and Sustainability: Sites for Resistance and Change (Palgrave Macmillan 2016).




How to Cite

Sumner, J. (2024). Review of Ultra-processed people: Why we can’t stop eating food that isn’t food. Canadian Food Studies La Revue Canadienne Des études Sur l’alimentation, 11(1), 240–242.



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