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‘Caffeinated’ book delves into America’s most popular drug

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The thing many Americans do after they wake up is to start brewing coffee, and they do it almost instinctually, without ever really thinking about it.

Murray Carpenter’s book -- or shall we call it an exposé -- “Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us” might be more of a jolt than your morning cup. Murray reminds readers that caffeine, which millions of people consume daily, is an addictive and, for the most part, unregulated drug.

Carpenter traveled to coffee hubs Guatemala and Columbia for his research, but he was very interested to discover powdered caffeine and its role in soft drinks like Coca-Cola and energy drinks like Red Bull. He discovered that chemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation Monsanto made caffeine for Coca-Cola as early as 1905. According to Carpenter, over the last 15 to 20 years, however, most caffeine production has shipped off to overseas pharmaceutical plants.

Lack of caffeine production in the U.S. doesn’t mean Americans consume less of it. According to the Maine Sun Journal, Americans consume 15 million pounds of powdered caffeine every year.

When you pick up that energy drink and chug it to stay awake, there’s no knowing how much of that caffeine ends up in your body. Beverages with caffeine are not required by the Food and Drug Administration to label their products with the amount of caffeine. Carpenter suggests milligrams of caffeine should be listed on menus and café boards.

The book doesn’t necessarily suggest you should quit your habit cold turkey, but Carpenter hopes to bring more people’s attention to the substances they put into their bodies, so they can make educated decisions about their caffeine intake. Carpenter himself has decreased his own caffeine consumption.

“Caffeinated” is Carpenter’s first book, due March 13 and published by Hudson Street Press.

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