Jan 13, 2012 11:52 AM EDT
How Carrots Won the Trojan War
by Gill Hudson, Reader's Digest UK
You might not realize it, but in historical terms, this is a golden age for vegetables. As Rupp points out in her introduction to this delightful book, “for a substantial chunk of human history, people have turned their noses up at vegetables.” But that doesn’t mean that our ancestors did without them completely. In each chapter, Rupp (who holds a Ph.D. in biology) takes a different vegetable and explores its significance to human beings over the centuries. Did you know, for example, that in ancient China growers would suspend stones from each end of a cucumber to combat its natural curliness? Or that the high-protein bean may have helped pull Europe from the Dark Ages? Or that Abraham Lincoln spearheaded a short-lived campaign to boost the popularity of cabbage? A fascinating – if mildly eccentric – read.