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Off the Shelf: Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us" by Murray Carpenter

"Would you like a cup of coffee?" I would. I've got to get this book review done on time and I'm running late. I start each day with a cup of strong coffee, cream, no sugar. If I don't have coffee for 24 hours I get headaches and nausea. I try to avoid this experience. This is a habit (addiction?) I share with 4 out of 5 Americans - including Murray Carpenter, the author of Caffeinated.

We are most familiar with caffeine in coffee, tea and cola. Other sources of naturally occurring caffeine include guarana and mate'. The process of decaffeinating coffee and tea produces some caffeine, but nowhere near enough to satisfy our over-stimulated craving. Most caffeine in so-called energy drinks comes from synthetic caffeine.

The Nobel prize-winning German chemist Emil Fisher pioneered the process of making synthetic caffeine in 1895. Today, the center of caffeine creation has shifted to China, which boasts the world's largest caffeine factory. The US is now importing 15,000,000 pounds of man-made caffeine every year. Eight of America's top 10 soft drinks contain this artificial caffeine; 1,200,000 pounds go into Mountain Dew alone. Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar add to the total.

Carpenter says, "Convenience stores are modern monuments to our lust for caffeine." Gas pumps outside fuel our vehicles and inside, what the author calls CDMs (Caffeine Delivery Mechanisms), supply caffeine and sugar water to keep us going. Visualize the colorful cans and bottles and Styrofoam cups. There are hot and cold coffees and teas, colas and other caffeinated sodas - an ever-increasing variety of energy drinks, and new kinds of CDMs - pills, gels, and gum.

The book takes us on a stimulating tour of our caffeine culture and an eye-opening look at the industry it has spawned.

The Peregrine Book Company is located at 219A North Cortez St., in Prescott.


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