Nina L. Etkin: Edible Medicines: An Ethnopharmacology of Food

The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, Arizona, 2006, 301 pp., ISBN-13: 978-0-8165-2093-0 and ISBN-10: 0-8165-2093-3
  • Gina K. Thornburg
Book Review

In this wide-ranging book, anthropologist Nina Etkin examines the healing properties of an array of foods across many cultures around the globe. Her analysis is informed by the literatures of ethnopharmacology, human evolution, applied biology, food history, nutrition, botany, geography, microbiology, the history of medicine, alternative and complementary medicine, and the science of food and agriculture. Throughout the book she interweaves findings from her 35 years of fieldwork among the Hausa people in Nigeria to bolster her central argument that biocultural and coevolutionary perspectives help to explain the interactions between culture and food and to “understand the health implications of people’s food-centered actions in the context of real-life circumstances” (p. 4). Both perspectives hinge on the principle that food, people, environment, and culture are best understood through their complex and dynamic relationships to one another. The biocultural view understands that the...


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA

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