THE PLANTS WE EAT, Rev. Ed. by Millicent E. Selsam


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The title first appeared in 1955, the material has subsequently been recycled in individual volumes on root vegetables, vegetables from stems and leaves, and so on, and even Wexler's photos have appeared in previous Selsam volumes. Nevertheless, this incarnation proves such a sharp, compact, and readable collaboration that another look will not be wasted. Surveying groups of food plants according to the parts we eat, readers will learn just what makes a flower a flower or a fruit a fruit, and how particular plants vary in theft parts and development. Along the way, they'll be treated to tidbits on the plants' origins and history. (Peas, according to Madame de Maintenon, were ""both a fashion and a madness"" in her time; whereas tomatoes, as is better known, had to overcome a reputation for being poisonous.) They'll be reminded that garlic and onions are both bunches of leaves (so are banana tree ""stems"") and that broccoli and cauliflower are members of the cabbage family, which also includes kale and collards--though we eat the flowers of the first two and the leaves of the others. They will be prodded to notice--after several cited examples and a closer look at pruning apple trees--that food plants have been bred selectively since their earliest cultivation. As it stands, a model survey.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1981
Publisher: Morrow