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Here, Walter Gratzer offers a marvelous smorgasbord of stories taken from the history of nutrition, providing an engaging account of the struggle to find the ingredients of a healthy diet, and the fads and quackery that have waylaid the unwary.
Gratzer recounts this history with characteristic crispness and verve. The book teems with colorful personalities, a veritable who's who of medical history, and highlights the brilliant flashes of insight as well as the sadly mistaken leaps of logic in the centuries-long effort to understand how the body uses food. We see the ingenious experiments used to reveal the workings of the stomach, the chemical analyses that uncovered the nature of proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamins, and the slow recognition that malnutrition lay behind such terrible diseases as scurvy, rickets, beriberi, and pellagra. Along the way, we read about the invention of the tin can (which originally had to be opened with a hammer and chisel), learn why ancient Egyptians had thicker skulls than Persians, and find out about today's fads and fancy diets--some dangerous, others just daft.
Spiced with colorful anecdotes from the history of medicine and with sharp portraits of the scientists who helped or hindered our understanding of diet and digestion, Terrors of the Table is a must read for anyone interested in food and health.
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