May 2, 2022 – Our food system is a rich, complex blend of biology and culture. From the biodiversity in forests, oceans, and farms to the living weave of long-standing traditions and emerging trends, food touches every aspect of life on Earth. This diversity hasn’t always carried through to agricultural and culinary literatures, but fortunately this is changing. Fresh perspectives are emerging in the literary discussions of food, addressing a range of topics and cuisines. In 2022, Science will share this tapestry in a limited podcast series on science and food. Hosted by journalist Angela Saini, the series will highlight books from around the world that intersect with this theme. A different book and its author will appear monthly on the Science podcast, beginning on 26 May 2022.
Together, the books discussed in these segments expose an entanglement of biology, culinary science, and culture. In Eating to Extinction: The World’s Rarest Foods and Why We Need to Save Them, Dan Saladino addresses biodiversity loss and the future of food. Saladino covers vast swaths of time and space, taking us from wild honey gatherers in Africa to rare Orkney barley as he demonstrates that species loss is linked to cultural loss.
Food literatures also demand that we confront ourselves and our blind spots. T. Colin Campbell’s The Future of Nutrition: An Insider’s Look at the Science, Why We Keep Getting It Wrong, and How to Start Getting It Right explores the evidence of the health benefits of plant-based diets. Crucially, this book exposes the cultural and political inertia protecting animal protein from scrutiny, reminding us that scientific research is never detached from society.