Science writer and naturalist Susan Allport takes readers on a passionate investigation of how the quest for food shapes our destinies and how our preferences for food were formed. In an engaging mix of in-depth research and personal anecdotes, the author of A Natural History of Parenting presents a delightful feast of facts and reflections on how food affects the lives of every creature, from forest animal to dining room gourmet. How does the gray squirrel find the nuts it buried months earlier? How do Inuit hunters outwit ever-vigilant seals? How do animals manage to consume a healthy mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats? What is the connection between food and love, food and intelligence, food and sexuality?
Chronicling habits of collecting, storing, and consuming food, in parts of the world as different as the Arctic and her own wooded backyard, Allport untangles the links of the food chain, explains how animals learn which plants and animals are safe to eat, and probes connections between food sharing and human evolution, and between food and reproduction. Along the way she examines the habits of chimpanzees, howler monkeys, hummingbirds, and koalas, among a host of other mammals, insects, and birds.
By exploring food as both sustenance and power in societies of hunter-gatherers, Susan Allport reveals important aspects of the human experience that affect us every day. In doing so, she reminds us that food is more than just nourishment: It is a key to understanding the biological universe and a fundamental and essential part of the quality of our existence.