Subtitled ""How the Foods of the Americas Changed Eating Around the World,"" this is a tedious history of the foods that originated in America and are now eaten worldwide. The subject should be fascinating but the thesis is not particularly profound: ""The exchange of foods between the Americas and the Old World improved the lives of millions. . . . Their diets were more nutritious and much more varied and interesting."" For most readers, there is more information than they ever wanted or needed on the subject of maize, beans, peppers, peanuts, potatoes, tomatoes, chocolate, etc. Johnson (Roses Red, Violets Blue, 1991, etc.) stuffs in as many facts as possible, e.g., in describing beans--""kidney, green, black, navy, pinto, wax, and lima""--she notes that they produce ""flatulence,"" a condition known as ""windiness"" in the 1500s; ""today we commonly call it gas,"" and the discussion doesn't end there. Strictly for research, this history has a redeeming quality: the lovely 16th- and 17th-century black-and-white illustrations and archival prints reproduced from old herbals and antique books.