Food, Genes, and Culture
5.5 x 8.25
5.5 x 8.25
Vegan, low fat, low carb, slow carb: Every diet seems to promise a one-size-fits-all solution to health. But they ignore the diversity of human genes and how they interact with what we eat.
In Food, Genes, and Culture, renowned ethnobotanist Gary Nabhan shows why the perfect diet for one person could be disastrous for another. If your ancestors were herders in Northern Europe, milk might well provide you with important nutrients, whereas if you’re Native American, you have a higher likelihood of lactose intolerance. If your roots lie in the Greek islands, the acclaimed Mediterranean diet might save your heart; if not, all that olive oil could just give you stomach cramps.
Nabhan traces food traditions around the world, from Bali to Mexico, uncovering the links between ancestry and individual responses to food. The implications go well beyond personal taste. Today’s widespread mismatch between diet and genes is leading to serious health conditions, including a dramatic growth over the last 50 years in auto-immune and inflammatory diseases.
Readers will not only learn why diabetes is running rampant among indigenous peoples and heart disease has risen among those of northern European descent, but may find the path to their own perfect diet.
"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
"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."
"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 provides substantial food for thought."
Andrew Weil, M.D., author of "The Healthy Kitchen" and "8 Weeks to Optimum Health"
"[Nabhan] takes the reader on a trail of discovery…thought-provoking…the book is well worth reading, for it should stimulate an important debate about what constitutes dietary adaptations and sensitivities."
Chapter 1. Discerning the Histories Encoded in Our Bodies
Chapter 2. Searching for the Ancestral Diet
Chapter 3. Finding a Bean for Your Genes and a Buffer Against Malaria
Chapter 4. The Shaping and Shipping Away of Mediterranean Cuisines
Chapter 5. Discovering Why Some Don't Like It Hot
Chapter 6. Dealing with Migration Headaches
Chapter 7. Rooting Out the Causes of Disease
Chapter 8. Reconnecting the Health of the People with the Health of the Land
In this special episode to take place on the birthday of the late E.O. Wilson (1929 - 2021), we will explore the voices of conservationists engaging from their faith, and indigenous knowledge and native wisdom, informing ecological restoration and species protection in the US.
E.O. Wilson once shared, “I express the belief that science and religion joined in an alliance…can save Creation, that is , life in the natural world. On behalf of Science, I will be so bold, to offer the hand of friendship.”
Faith-based communities have long held a connection and reverence for the natural world. Today, the species extinction crisis provides a platform to elevate actions taken to restore and protect habitat framed not only by science, but a religiosity based in individual faith. The Laudauto Si’ of the Catholic faith, Quaker Earthcare Witness and the Transition Movement reveal intersections with community and governmental goals of protecting biodiversity. Their voices make a key contribution to the success of 30x30 and create a rich pathway for the next installment in the Places and Voices discussion series.
- Gary Nabhan, PhD, Ethnobotanist, Author of Food From the Radical Center, MacArthur Fellow
- James Lockman, Senior Restoration Ecologist, Tierra Data
- Ruah Swennerfelt, The Transition Movement, Quaker EarthCare Witness
- Moderator: Paula J. Ehrlich, DVM, PhD, President & CEO, E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, Co-Founder, Half-Earth Project