It seems that comprehensive accounts of vegetables, fruits and beans are in high demand. Or is it a coincidence that histories of potatos, bananas and coffee have recently appeared on the book market? John Reader’s tract on the potato, published in the FAO’s year of the potato, has received a warm review in Nature:
In his account of the Irish famine, Reader offers the central message of the book. Eliminating extreme hunger and poverty is one of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, but the history of the potato shows us that truly eliminating poverty means much more than ensuring the security of food supplies and avoiding hunger; social equity is equally, if not more, important. Science on its own is no panacea for solving social ills.
The other two books are Dan Koeppel’s Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World (see his blog here) and perhaps the more scientific Confronting the Coffee Crisis: Fair Trade, Sustainable Livelihoods and Ecosystems in Mexico and Central America by Christopher Bacon et al., published by MIT press.