Why Some Like It Hot: Food, Genes, and Cultural Diversity

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9781559634663: Why Some Like It Hot: Food, Genes, and Cultural Diversity
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Do your ears burn whenever you eat hot chile peppers? Does your face immediately flush when you drink alcohol? Does your stomach groan if you are exposed to raw milk or green fava beans? If so, you are probably among the one-third of the world's human population that is sensitive to certain foods due to your genes' interactions with them.
Formerly misunderstood as "genetic disorders," many of these sensitivities are now considered to be adaptations that our ancestors evolved in response to the dietary choices and diseases they faced over millennia in particular landscapes. They are liabilities only when we are "out of place," on globalized diets depleted of certain chemicals that triggered adaptive responses in our ancestors.
In Why Some Like It Hot, an award-winning natural historian takes us on a culinary odyssey to solve the puzzles posed by "the ghosts of evolution" hidden within every culture and its traditional cuisine. As we travel with Nabhan from Java and Bali to Crete and Sardinia, to Hawaii and Mexico, we learn how various ethnic cuisines formerly protected their traditional consumers from both infectious and nutrition-related diseases. We also bear witness to the tragic consequences of the loss of traditional foods, from adult-onset diabetes running rampant among 100 million indigenous peoples to the historic rise in heart disease among individuals of northern European descent.
In this, the most insightful and far-reaching book of his career, Nabhan offers us a view of genes, diets, ethnicity, and place that will forever change the way we understand human health and cultural diversity. This book marks the dawning of evolutionary gastronomy in a way that may save and enrich millions of lives.

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About the Author:


Gary Paul Nabhan is an internationally-celebrated nature writer, seed saver, conservation biologist and sustainable agriculture activist who has been called the father of the local food movement” by Utne Reader, Mother Earth News, Carleton College and Unity College. Gary is also an orchard-keeper, wild forager and Ecumenical Franciscan brother in his hometown of Patagonia, Arizona near the Mexican border.
He is author or editor of twenty-four books, some of which have been translated into Spanish, Italian, French, Croation, Korean, Chinese and Japanese. For his writing and collaborative conservation work, he has been honored with a MacArthur genius” award, a Southwest Book Award, the John Burroughs Medal for nature writing, the Vavilov Medal, and lifetime achievement awards from the Quivira Coalition and Society for Ethnobiology.
He works as most of the year as a research scientist at the Southwest Center of the University of Arizona, and the rest as co-founder-facilitator of several food and farming alliances, including Renewing America’s Food Traditions and Flavors Without Borders.

Review:

"Gary Nabhan writes in novel and always interesting ways about food and culture and the genetic underpinnings that may account for differences in taste. His reflections on how different ways of eating affect the health of human societies provide substantial food for thought." (Andrew Weil, M.D., author of "The Healthy Kitchen" and "8 Weeks to Optimum Health")

"Gary Nabhan is one of the most important food writers we have in this country. In this eloquent and fascinating book, he shows us how our food and culture are so deeply rooted in our land and agriculture." (Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse)

"In this fascinating book, Gary Nabhan, a fine scientist and first-rate writer, reminds us that the relationships of our genes and food choices are not random, but rather brilliant demonstrations of biological and cultural evolution in action." (Paul R. Ehrlich, Bing Professor of Population Studies and Professor of Biological Sciences at Stanford University)

"Why Some Like It Hot is a masterpiece of investigation . . . A fascinating survey evolves which will thoughtfully interest any truly dedicated nutritionist, professional chef, or family kitchen cook." (Library Bookwatch)

"[Nabhan] takes the reader on a trail of discovery . . . thought provoking . . . the book is well worth reading." (Nature)

"Nabhan addresses fascinating issues . . . [He] writes compassionately about indigenous groups—like Native Americans and ethnic Hawaiians—that are threatened by globalization." (Washington Post)

"This exploration of the coevolution of communities and their native foods couldn't be more timely. . . . Mixing hard science with personal anecdotes, Nabhan convincingly argues that health comes from a genetically appropriate diet inextricably entwined with a healthy land and culture." (Publishers Weekly)

"The author takes the reader on a fascinating gastronomic tour to show how our genes influence our reactions to food, encouraging readers to become aware of their particular cultural heritage and apply this knowledge in their lives." (BellaOnline)

"Move over Dr. Atkins—here's someone who really understands what a body needs. In a homogenized world, it is delightful to be reminded that our cells and organs follow a much older and more complex set of instructions. Read it before you head out to the market for this week's shopping!" (Bill McKibben, author of "Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age")

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9781597260916: Why Some Like It Hot: Food, Genes, and Cultural Diversity

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Publisher: Island Press, 2006
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