Top positive review
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Not just for scientists - a well-thought out guide for anyone with an interest in where our food comes from
on 15 October 2009
Not just for scientists - a well-thought out guide for anyone with an interest in where our food comes from and the nutritional content of plants.
This thoroughly updated and expanded edition is a really useful reference source for information about the plants that we eat. Grains, nuts, oils, fruits, herbs, peas and much, much more are all covered in depth. Plant entries are grouped together by type, which makes the book easy to follow and plants easy to find, and each entry is well-written giving information on plant use, history, when the plant was first known to be used as a food source (if known or documented), and some brief nutritional information. Latin names and common names are also given (useful I would imagine for horticulturists / botanists etc).
As a general lay reader with an interest in the food that I eat - where it originates from, how it's produced, how far it has travelled to get to my cupboard, and so on - I have found the book to be really interesting. As someone with food allergies I've also found it useful in increasing my awareness and understanding of certain ingredients (especially grains), their nutritional value and differences or similarities and how they might be useful to me in cooking. I was expecting the book to be full of complex information or terms I didn't understand but have actually found it surprisingly easy to use. Botanical and nutritional glossaries help with terms I don't understand.
For anyone with more scientific needs than mine I have absolutely no idea how useful or not this book will be, but I have found it to be packed full of useful information on all of the edible plants I can think of and I have been surprised by how easy the book is to use and read. I must also mention that each page (or section) is perfectly complimented by a corresponding page of lovely botanical illustrations, which are intricately detailed and give an accurate indicator of size, i.e. an illustration might be described as "life-size" or "two-thirds life-size", and so on. Nutritional tables are inserted at the back of the book, although I can't honestly say I've done anything more than glance at these.
As more and more of us are becoming aware of what we eat, due to sport, fitness, lifestyle, food-allergies, intolerances, illness etc., as well as becoming more and more aware of how far our food has travelled and what it has cost the environment in terms of green miles, this is a book that I think many people are going to gain a lot of mileage from, and will find it useful to refer back to time and time again. My only criticism is that I wish the book had been printed on slightly thicker paper as the pages crease quite easily (but that's the slightest of quibbles - and it's to do with production rather than content). Overall - 5*s from me.