Sex on the Kitchen Table: The Romance of Plants and Your Food


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Sex on the Kitchen Table: The Romance of Plants and Your Food Author: Format: Paperback / softback First Published: Published By: The University of Chicago Press
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Pages: 208 Illustrations and other contents: 13 line drawings, 6 tables Language: English ISBN: 9780226574899 Categories: , , , , , , ,

At the tips of our forks and on our dinner plates, a buffet of botanical dalliance awaits us. Sex and food are intimately intertwined, and this relationship is nowhere more evident than among the plants that sustain us. From lascivious legumes to horny hot peppers, most of humanity’s calories and other nutrition come from seeds and fruits-the products of sex-or from flowers, the organs that make plant sex possible. Sex has also played an arm’s-length role in delivering plant food to our stomachs, as human handmade evolution (plant breeding, or artificial selection) has turned wild species into domesticated staples. In Sex on the Kitchen Table, Norman C. Ellstrand takes us on a vegetable-laced tour of this entire sexual adventure. Starting with the love apple (otherwise known as the tomato) as a platform for understanding the kaleidoscopic ways that plants can engage in sex, successive chapters explore the sex lives of a range of food crops, including bananas, avocados, and beets, finally ending with genetically engineered squash-a controversial, virus-resistant vegetable created by a process that involves the most ancient form of sex. Peppered throughout are original illustrations and delicious recipes, from sweet and savory tomato pudding to banana puffed pancakes, avocado toast (of course), and both transgenic and non-GMO tacos. An eye-opening medley of serious science, culinary delights, and humor, Sex on the Kitchen Table offers new insight into fornicating flowers, salacious squash, and what we owe to them. So as we sit down to dine and ready for that first bite, let us say a special grace for our vegetal vittles: let’s thank sex for getting them to our kitchen table.

Weight0.382888 kg




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"In a funny way, Ellstrand's book could be called the 'secret sex life of crop plants, ' because relatively few people know the ins and outs of avocadoes, bananas, beets, corn, or squash. Sex on the Kitchen Table will help readers understand how crop plants reproduce and why that is so significant when it comes to solving problems in agriculture. I haven't read anything quite like this before. Edifying and entertaining."--Raoul W. Adamchak, Market Gardens/CSA Coordinator, Student Farm, University of California, Davis "coauthor of "Tomorrow's Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food" " "If the title of this book calls to mind the film encounter between Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange in The Postman Always Rings Twice, you should know that the scene had many botanical predecessors. Daily you may grace your kitchen table with the products of plant sex: avocados, tomatoes, and squash betray this origin in the seeds they contain, but a cabbage has a sex life too. Ellstrand shines a spotlight on plant sex, revealing how weird it can be, how promiscuous it often is, and just how mobile plant genes are. All our food plants have wild ancestors, and where wild and crop relatives grow near each other, sex happens. It takes engineering to move genes between unrelated species but, Ellstrand argues, it's sex all the same. His message is wise-up and enjoy plant sex. I love it!"--Jonathan Silvertown, University of Edinburgh "author of "Dinner with Darwin: Food, Drink, and Evolution" "