The Primal Feast: Food, Sex, Foraging, and Love

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9780595271313: The Primal Feast: Food, Sex, Foraging, and Love

Food makes the world go around, according to this absorbing account of how the search for food has shaped human nature. It is more important than love or sex for the simple reason that food is harder to find than a mate. Think of it this way, says Allport, who draws on the research of anthropologists and biologists in presenting her fascinating and provocative theories: Mates are often willing accomplices in the act of mating; food is never a willing accomplice in the act of eating.

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From the Inside Flap:

Science writer and naturalist Susan Allport takes readers on a passionate investigation of how the quest for food shapes our destinies and how our preferences for food were formed. In an engaging mix of in-depth research and personal anecdotes, the author of A Natural History of Parenting presents a delightful feast of facts and reflections on how food affects the lives of every creature, from forest animal to dining room gourmet. How does the gray squirrel find the nuts it buried months earlier? How do Inuit hunters outwit ever-vigilant seals? How do animals manage to consume a healthy mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats? What is the connection between food and love, food and intelligence, food and sexuality?
Chronicling habits of collecting, storing, and consuming food, in parts of the world as different as the Arctic and her own wooded backyard, Allport untangles the links of the food chain, explains how animals learn which plants and animals are safe to eat, and probes connections between food sharing and human evolution, and between food and reproduction. Along the way she examines the habits of chimpanzees, howler monkeys, hummingbirds, and koalas, among a host of other mammals, insects, and birds.
By exploring food as both sustenance and power in societies of hunter-gatherers, Susan Allport reveals important aspects of the human experience that affect us every day. In doing so, she reminds us that food is more than just nourishment: It is a key to understanding the biological universe and a fundamental and essential part of the quality of our existence.

From the Back Cover:

"For anyone who has puzzled over where and how we humans fit into the world of critters -- and who has not? -- Susan Allport's beautifully written work The Primal Feast offers a banquet of connections, from the foraging habits of murre seabirds in the Arctic to the feeding strategies of chimpanzees in equatorial Africa. The hungers and cravings of human and animal natures have seldom been so clearly and cunningly interwoven, with deep care for the world they share." -- Betty Fussell, author of My Kitchen Wars

"Susan Allport's The Primal Feast is a splendid excursion into the intricacies of survival faced by Earth's creatures. It provides enough intellectual fodder to keep a reader chewing for weeks, not the least of which is her speculation that our amazingly efficient species will be able to temper its fierce urge to propagate and dominate all other species, that we will, as she puts it, 'learn how to share the planet' with its other less formidable denizens." -- Nelson Bryant, columnist, The New York Times

"Once again, Allport makes it stunningly clear that we can't understand human behavior without understanding animal behavior -- and our place in the animal world." -- Catherine Crier, broadcast journalist

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Allport, Susan
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