Phytofoodophylogeny…

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Image: Keith Weller, USDA ARS.
Image: Keith Weller, USDA ARS.

Working hard on your behalf, one of my many ‘spies’ has tipped me off about a ‘super blog with phylogenies of food plants and lots of hard details on botany and foods’. Plants and food? Tell me more! Well, espousing the view that ‘a person can learn a lot about plants through the everyday acts of slicing and eating them’, The Botanist in the Kitchen ‘is devoted to exploring food plants in all their beautiful detail as plants – as living organisms with their own evolutionary history and ecological interactions’. The site – which is academic (from Drs Jeanne Osnas and Katherine Preston), but with recipes (from Michelle Fuerst) – has three goals: to share the fascinating biology of our food plants, to teach biology using edible, familiar examples, and to suggest delicious ways to bring the plants and their stories to your table. And it provides great material to underline the real reason botanists study plants – they feed us and almost every living thing we see around us! And to take your sensory pleasures further, why not check out one of 2012’s more intriguingly entitled journals, Flavour, ‘a peer-reviewed, open access, online journal that publishes interdisciplinary articles on flavour, its generation and perception, and its influence on behaviour and nutrition’. Overseen by Editors-in-Chief Peter Barham (University of Bristol, UK) and Per Møller (University of Copenhagen, Denmark), the journal publishes articles ‘from all relevant disciplines including neuroscience, genetics, food chemistry, sensory science, psychology and philosophy’. And to whet your students’ appetite for this new gastroscience fusion diet, why not explore Amy Rowat’s opinion article therein entitled, ‘The molecules we eat: food as a medium to communicate science’, as a hors d’oeuvre [horse? surely best not mentioned in the context of food at present!]? Finally – well, you can have too much food! – is a plug for Michelle’s Accidental Scientist blog. Michelle, from Kaneohe (Hawai’i, USA – the grass skirt state, where ‘the’ President comes from), has a PhD in Biology, but her real passion is food and she describes herself as ‘a scientist noshing and fumbling her way through the food world’. Lots of tasty treats and tit-bits here, many of which are very exotic (from this West Country lad’s perspective at least!).

[The biggest surprise for me – for a new journal in the American-English-spelling-dominated world of global publishing – is that it has been permitted to use the ‘quaint’ English (UK) spelling ‘Flavour’. Maybe this is evidence that English cuisine is still a major force in the kitchens of the world? – Ed.]


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