THE WAY WE EAT NOW

HOW THE FOOD REVOLUTION HAS TRANSFORMED OUR LIVES, OUR BODIES, AND OUR WORLD

Though not a complete picture, this book is an entertaining choice for naturalists, foodies, and health-conscious readers.

A wide-ranging look at how food today is killing us through its abundance.

British food historian Wilson (First Bite: How We Learn to Eat, 2015, etc.), who writes a monthly column on food for the Wall Street Journal and has been named BBC Radio’s food writer of the year, avers that diets are getting worse across most of the world. “We snack more, we eat out more, and yet we often enjoy food less,” she writes. In her view, we are in the fourth stage of diet transitions, following the low-fat one of prehistoric hunter-gatherers to the cereal-rich one of the agricultural revolution to the third healthier, more varied one that followed. In stage four, diets are getting sweeter, fatter, and meatier—and not just in the rich countries. The author has talked to researchers, economists, and other experts, gathering data from around the world. Happily, she presents the data in an appealing, informal, almost chatty fashion. If readers want to know more about, say, the decline in cooking oil prices in China or the rising cost of green vegetables relative to ice cream in the U.K., a few charts provide this information. More interesting is Wilson’s discussion of trendy foods, where she exposes frauds and fads; she gives close attention to such foods as quinoa, yogurt, skyr, kale, pomegranate juice, and coconut water. The author also explores the dilemma of eating out versus cooking at home and examines the rise in popularity of meal kits, which provide customers with all the ingredients and instructions for making a home-cooked meal. She optimistically predicts that we may be entering another dietary transition to healthier foods, and she offers tips for enjoying our food while waiting for this new food culture to emerge. Though Wilson offers an enjoyable reading experience, her failure to consider potential future food shortages as climate change reduces arable land and the population grows makes some of her predictions questionable.

Though not a complete picture, this book is an entertaining choice for naturalists, foodies, and health-conscious readers.

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-465-09397-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Basic Books

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

THE CULTURE MAP

BREAKING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES OF GLOBAL BUSINESS

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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