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From Chapter 1
A one-year-old child will put anything into her mouth, just to taste what it is. As we get older, we get more squeamish and more sophisticated; we say, "Let me see what you've got," not "Let me taste what you've got." But we do continue to stick strange and wonderful things into our mouths and to stick our tongues into, and around in, amazing places, well into adulthood. We call it eating. And the more socially unacceptable our chosen food, the more apt we are to call it gourmet food or health food or an acquired taste, as if its acquisition implied a higher plane of evolution.
Eating is one of the great sensual pleasures of life. It is where that fuzzy sense of mystical at-oneness with the world meets and celebrates hard biological necessity. When we eat we are, quite literally, turning the world outside in. Foods are nothing more or less than pieces of environments: bark, leaves, roots, sap of trees (maple syrup, date palm juice), and animals of all sorts from the land and the sea, even bacteria (think live-culture yogurt), algae. We even eat dirt. I have a report in my files of a woman who habitually ate earth, with its associated beetles and the like, from the graves of priests. She subsequently suffered infection with the cat roundworm Toxocara cati.
Most of us do not eat dirt in that way, of course, although pica (abnormal appetites), which includes the eating of dirt, is more common than we realize. Ever watch a one-year-old child in the sandbox? But even adults are not immune to such behavior, and normality, particularly with regard to food preferences, is very much culturally conditioned. In the end, eating dirt in some African cultures is really no different from eating mineral supplements in North America.
When we eat, we select portions of an environment and bring them into intimate contact with our bodies. They become one with us, and we become one with the earth. What sex is to interpersonal relationships, eating is to the human-environment relationship, a daily consummation of our marriage to the living biosphere.
About the Author-
David Waltner-Toews is a veterinarian and epidemiologist specializing in diseases people get from animals by living with them, sharing their environments, or eating them. He is a professor in the Department of Population Medicine at the University of Guelph in Ontario, founding president of Veterinarians without Borders/Veterinaires sans FrontieresCanada, and author of numerous books of poetry and nonfiction, including One Animal Among Many: Gaia, Goats and Garlic and The Chickens Fight Back. He has also published two textbooks and one work of fiction. He lives in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.
Table of Contents-
Preface to the Second Edition
Preface to the First Edition
French Kissing on the First Date
1. Food, Sex, and Salmonella: What's the Problem?
2. The Voice of the Unseen Guest: How People Get Sick
When She Stays for Breakfast
3. Salmonella Reading in Turkey: Foodborne Infections Caused by Salmonella
4. Cows, Cats, and Pure Country Water: E. Coli and Waterborne Infections
5. The Young and the Retching: Foodborne Bacterial Intoxications (Except Botulism)
6. Grandma's Revenge: Botulism
7. It May Be Worms to You (But It's My Bread and Butter): Parasites
8. Zombies from the Deep: Seafood Toxins
When She Moves In
9. Are We Safe Yet? Transforming Danger into Risk
10. One Person's Cure, Another Person's Coffin: Antibacterials, Pesticides, and Preservatives
11. Dancing Cat Meets Cadmium Carrot: Heavy Metals
12. Breadwiches, Peanut Livers, and Cancer-free Airline Snacks: Mycotoxins
13. There Is a Crack in Everything: Radioactive Contaminants
Spicing Up the Long-Term Commitment
14. Risks, Rights, and Righteous Eating: Revisiting Risk
15. Montezuma Rules the World: Deal with It
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