Book Nook: Eat, Drink, and Be Medicated

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How did our ancestral understanding of food�s medicinal value morph into such �frankenfoods� as the �flavr saver� 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 it�s been from the practice of �doctoring� dishes with herbs and spices to such technologies as �biopharming,� or genetically tampering with crops such as corn and soy to produce new drugs. Vegetarians, beware: the �biopharming� technique known as xenotransplantation commonly transfers animal cells, tissues, or organs to plants. Not that the ways of traditional cultures are necessarily more veg-friendly�Chinese herbal medicine can include such ingredients as bear paws and deer antlers.

Don�t let the footnotes fool you: Chen, an anthropology professor, is no ivory tower academic. It�s 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 she�s personally been served, including a spicy-sweet Ginger Garlic Tea with Lime and Honey to treat colds and flu.

�Amy Spitalnick, Associate Editor