Get Involved
About Us
Our Members
New Book Profiles

Let Thy Food Be Thy Medicine: Plants and Modern Medicine by Kathleen Hefferon. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2012. Hardcover, 240 pages. ISBN: 978-0-19-987397-5. $55.00.

In her latest book, scientist and author Kathleen Hefferon, PhD, presents an overview of the process of identifying plants with healing properties and turning them into useful and accessible medicines for a rapidly increasing global population. The book begins with a brief discussion of the history of medicinal plant use and continues with an explanation of the process of locating potential medicinal plants — often with the help of ethnobotanical research — through modern chemical analyses of phytochemicals and the development of plant-based drugs. The author discusses the often-neglected issue of intellectual property rights of indigenous people who have used such herbal medicines for generations, as well as techniques for improving agricultural practices in a sustainable and responsible manner. Finally, Hefferon looks at the future of the food industry and the challenges facing the development of new medicines.

Dreaming the Future: Reimagining Civilization in the Age of Nature by Kenny Ausubel. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing; 2012. Softcover, 240 pages. ISBN: 978-1-60358-459-3. $17.95.

According to Kenny Ausubel, co-founder of Bioneers — a non-profit organization that uses nature-based ideas and solutions to tackle social and environmental challenges — the world is on the cusp of great change. In Dreaming the Future, Ausubel outlines the state of the earth’s abused ecosystems and suggests that solutions to some of humanity’s most pressing issues already exist and can be found in nature. As he writes in the book’s introduction, “At the same time the world faces escalating climate change and extreme environmental and social disruption, we’re also witnessing a profound transformation taking hold around the globe. It signals the dawn of a human civilization that honors and emulates the wisdom of nature’s design sophistication.…It’s a revolution from the heart of nature and the human heart.” The book is divided into 3 sections: Part 1, “It’s All Alive . . .,” which expands on the idea of the earth as an interconnected, living organism; Part 2, “Hungry Ghost Stories,” which looks at how corporations have affected our current global state; and Part 3, “Value Change for Survival,” which looks at current innovations and ideas at a time when “the shift is about to hit the fan.”

Cereals and Pulses: Nutraceutical Properties and Health Benefits by Liangli Yu, Rong Tsao, and Fereidoon Shahidi (eds.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell; 2012. Hardcover, 328 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8138-1839-9. $199.95.

Cereals and pulses — a term that encompasses legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils — are crops grown around the world that have the potential to provide important nutrients to millions of people. This reference guide examines each of the major cereal and pulse crops in detail and explores their phytochemical properties. According to the book’s summary, “Chapters for each crop discuss methods to improve crop utilization, nutraceutical components and properties, bioactive compositions, antioxidant properties, beneficial health effects, disease prevention activities, and areas for future research.” The book is divided into 19 chapters, each written by experts in their respective fields. Examples of chapters include Chapter 2, “Effects of Barley Consumption on Cardiovascular and Diabetic Risk;” Chapter 9, “Antioxidant and Health Promoting Properties of Wheat (Triticum spp.);” and Chapter 16, “Soy Isoflavones and Bone Health.”