How did our ancestral understanding of foodï¿½s medicinal value morph into such ï¿½frankenfoodsï¿½ as the ï¿½flavr saverï¿½ tomato, genetically engineered for a longer shelf life? Food, Medicine, and the Quest for Good Health by Nancy N. Chen tracks the long, strange trip itï¿½s been from the practice of ï¿½doctoringï¿½ dishes with herbs and spices to such technologies as ï¿½biopharming,ï¿½ or genetically tampering with crops such as corn and soy to produce new drugs. Vegetarians, beware: the ï¿½biopharmingï¿½ technique known as xenotransplantation commonly transfers animal cells, tissues, or organs to plants. Not that the ways of traditional cultures are necessarily more veg-friendlyï¿½Chinese herbal medicine can include such ingredients as bear paws and deer antlers.
Donï¿½t let the footnotes fool you: Chen, an anthropology professor, is no ivory tower academic. Itï¿½s not just that she references popular films. With clear-eyed perspective, she guides readers through the barrage of media hyping nutraceuticals and miracle diets. She also sheds light on the real-world political implications of what we eat. And she offers several healing recipes sheï¿½s personally been served, including a spicy-sweet Ginger Garlic Tea with Lime and Honey to treat colds and flu.
ï¿½Amy Spitalnick, Associate Editor