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Publisher's Summary

What foods did the human body evolve to eat, and why? How does the food we eat affect our genes and our minds? What foods are (and aren't) optimal for our everyday health? How can we use cutting-edge science to end world hunger?

In these 36 lectures, get eye-opening answers to these and other perplexing questions about the evolution of the human diet and its relationship to our bodies. Bringing together insights from a range of fields including history, anthropology, nutrition, economics, biology, and sociology, this exciting partnership between The Great Courses and National Geographic lays bare what science can teach us about food.

Taking you far beyond the supermarket and the laboratory, these lectures cross cultures, span time, and hop around the world from the most underfed to the most overfed human societies. Bringing a broad range of disciplines to these lectures, Dr. Crittenden offers an intriguing and illuminating catalog of some of the most pressing questions and concerns.

You'll compare and contrast food-related crises from mass starvation to obesity. You'll explore food trends and ideas, from the Mediterranean and MIND diets to the farm-to-table movement and the controversy surrounding GMOs. You'll bust common myths about how food acts on the body and mind. And you'll gain powerful scientific insights that will always be there in the back of your mind, every time you get hungry.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2017 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2017 The Great Courses

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Misleading Title

I was really excited about this book as I really wanted to learn more about food, science, and the human body, but sadly this book had very little of the science it advertised. If you are interested in actual food science, avoid this course. This course is 3/4 anthropology with the remaining 1/4 being personal anecdotes about the author's experiences doing things in the world abroad. There is very little science in this course. Plus, the performance is mediocre at best, with at least one or two errors per half an hour lecture.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good info, but what a crummy narration.

This course had so much potential, and did contain very good information, but the narration by Crittendon said countless nonsensical things, really beyond the pale for a University professor. But then, government schools…

Her lousy use of language contained gems like these:

-"A thousand years ago, BC"
-"It can take up to an average of”
-“Percursor"
-FDA, the "Drug & Food Administration”
-"A good day's harvest is 100 pounds picked a day"
-“Geophagy” derives from the latin…
-"High enough levels of curcumin content”
-"The earliest known evidence of the use of a mortar and pestle was found in the south of France around 10,000 years ago.” (Ch 23); she then refers to the creative but nonexistent tool “mortle”.
-"Lactose intolerance is when your body cannot digest lactose, the main sugar in milk, very well into adulthood.”
-"The ability to digest lactase”
-"The Greenland Inuit eat "meat, blubber, and very little vegetables” -True, but given all her previous errors, I wonder if that’s what she meant.
-"Neuronal nerve cells.” -ufff; déjà vu all over again.
-"Starches made by longer saccharide chains"
-"The poverty rate was reduced by 71 million people"
-"Sugarcane has less water content”
-"The diminishing Earth's resources”
-"Sellers don't purchase produce that is aesthetically appealing", and therefore it's thrown away.


...As she Rambles on about waste, she never mentions government agricultural subsidies.

Crittendon works for a State institution and is funded by taxation, so one can understand why she she invariably resorts to government coercion as an answer to food and environmental problems.

But her understanding of economics is at best between paltry and flat wrong. Says says it was the Chinese government’s imposing taxes on salt that propelled its economic development -despite her then mentioning in passing that China houses five types of salt, and developed trade and production technologies that would become the leading methods over the next 2000 years. But no, it was Govt that did it, by taking productive people’s property. …Really.



The class also subjects the listener to the same stupid medical disclaimer at least three dozen times; revealing how afraid of government and suits they are. This casts a pall of cowardice and conformity to government views over the whole course. Those 36 identical disclaimers were weak and shameful, and wasted my time.

22 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Nope<br />

I didn't finish this book. Not what I was looking for. Too slow and was dumbed down.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

easy to listen to and follow

This book was In depth and informative. voice was nice to listen to and easy to follow .

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Worst Audible Decision

Any additional comments?

I've downloaded over 100 titles from Audible and this was one of the few I've regretted opening. I was hoping to learn more about nutrition and the interaction of the food we consume with our bodies. I was looking to use the information to make more informed choices related to my diet and to live a healthier lifestyle.The first couple lectures are anthropology related. While interesting, this is not what I hoped to hear about. However, the lectures soon take a bizarre turn. I stopped listening after Professor Crittenden advocated eating bugs, so I can't say if the course continues to decline from that point. However, this wasn't out of the box advice offered after presenting more mainstream information on the western diet. Bug eating is what Professor Crittenden decided to open with. There are many other offerings that are informative and don't open with encouraging you to go into your backyard and eat bugs. I'm going to try one of those instead with my next Audible credit.

13 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • TS
  • 06-03-18

GREAT Course? Not.

If I could return this purchase, I would. I kept listening, hoping it would get better. There is enough "Food" but almost no "Science" in this "Great Course". I expected the information to be at greater depth than for a high school foods class. I have caught several outright errors. The reading is clunky and artificial, and the frequent mis-spoken words are very distracting. There are many food/history podcasts out there with in-depth information and better stories, narrated by readers with genuine enthusiasm for the subject. Avoid this!

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Solid Read with interspersed nuggets

There was a good amount of knowledge gained from this book, but at the same time still quite a bit of theory of what is believed about food and human past that doesn't stand against knowledge of things that will be uncovered. Loved 80% but remaining seemed still too much of a matter of fact attitude instead of remaining scientific and stating that its our best guess around aspects.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

stupid warning announcement

you will have to skip or listen to 33 warming announcements. nice course. stupid lawyers

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding Infomation

From the history of Foods to it's role in solving world hunger. An invaluable read.

3 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great information

Great research and presentation. All the lectures are on average 30 minutes, which is a small digestible blocks of time, pardon the pun. In addition to a better understanding of nutrition and cause and effect on the human body there are good lectures on the impact on the environment and culture of the development, consumption of food.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • L. J. Carey
  • 06-02-18

I loved it

Highly recommend!
The kids (11 and 9) throughly enjoyed the narration and the info content.
It was fun informative and eye opening

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mrs. E. Scremin
  • 04-26-18

really enjoyed!

much more than expected ! very elucidating with history, biology, anthropology all science giving the full picture in a such clarity way.

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  • elena
  • 01-26-18

masterpiece

Great author and Narrator! Perfectly written and ordered chapter after chapter!!Unforgettable audiobook and deffinitely must reading!! Thank yo!