Author roots out history-making plants
Plants have been instrumental in driving economies, sparking political change and uprooting people. Social historian Bill Laws looks at their influence in "Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History."
In the book, Laws traces the backgrounds of the plants he profiles and looks at their impact on the world. It's a study of how plants have nurtured us, divided us, provided for us and incited us to action, with varying results.
Among the plants he profiles are the cabbage on which Clarence "Bob" Birdseye experimented to develop a quick-freezing method for food preservation and the tea England taxed, prompting America's fight for independence.
He looks at ferns, which appeared 335 million years ago and eventually became the coal that fueled the industrial revolution while it fouled the air; cotton, which drove the slave trade in the United States; the opium poppy, which gave rise to both beneficial painkillers and devastating illegal drugs; and papyrus, which was used to make the paper on which history itself was recorded thousands of years ago.
"Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History" is published by Firefly Books and sells for $29.95 in hardcover.
Stewart weighs in on 38 power foods
The empire that began with Martha Stewart's catering gigs has grown to include not only the magazine, website and Martha-centric television channel, but niche publications too, including the health-focused Whole Living Magazine.
Now, there's a book: "Power Foods: 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients." (Clarkson Potter, $24.99).
Good health, says Stewart, isn't about self-denial and rules. It's about boosting health and well-being by incorporating the planet's 38 most healthful ingredients into your daily diet.
The magic 38 include sweet potatoes, apricots, dried beans, pecans and artichokes, which are known for their detoxifying properties.
There are pages of photographs and tempting recipes for a vegetarian take on Salad Nicoise, for example, Lemon Chicken With Avocado-Corn Salsa, and a Sweet Potato Hummus that harnesses the beta-carotene appeal of the delicious tubers with the protein, fiber and heart-healthy B vitamins of chickpeas.
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