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Most Delicious Poison
The Story of Nature's Toxins—From Spices to Vices
Formats and Prices
- Hardcover $30.00 $39.00 CAD
- ebook $14.99 $19.99 CAD
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A deadly secret lurks within our spice racks, medicine cabinets, backyard gardens, and private stashes.
Scratch beneath the surface of a coffee bean, a red pepper flake, a poppy seed, a mold spore, a foxglove leaf, a magic mushroom cap, a marijuana bud, or an apple seed, and we find a bevy of strange chemicals. We use these to greet our days (caffeine), titillate our tongues (capsaicin), recover from our surgeries (opioids), cure our infections (penicillin), mend our hearts (digoxin), bend our minds (psilocybin), calm our nerves (CBD), and even kill our enemies (cyanide). But why do plants and fungi produce such chemicals? And how did we come to use and abuse some of them?
Based on cutting-edge science in the fields of evolution, chemistry, and neuroscience, Most Delicious Poison reveals the origins of toxins produced by plants, mushrooms, microbes, and even some animals, the mechanisms that animals evolved to overcome them, and how a co-evolutionary arms race made its way into the human experience. This perpetual chemical war not only drove the diversification of life on Earth, but is also intimately tied to our own successes and failures. You will never look at a houseplant, mushroom, fruit, vegetable, or even the last 500 years of human history, the same way again.
- “Humans have benefitted for millennia from the wild variety of healing, intoxicating, delicious or stimulating toxins produced by the biological warfare that pervades the natural world. Whiteman provides a wonderful overview of the diversity and ubiquity of these drugs, giving us an inspiring, entertaining look at both the richness of nature and the clever ways humans—and many other species—have learned to exploit it.”—Edward Slingerland, author of Drunk
- “Noah Whiteman expertly reveals the evolution of the toxins that permeate our daily lives in this deeply researched and fascinating book.”—Jennifer Doudna, Nobel Laureate, CRISPR gene editing co-inventor, and Innovative Genomics Institute founder
- “Through captivating storytelling, Noah Whiteman breathes life into the history of nature’s toxins, exploring the pleasures, comforts, and agonies that have shaped human evolution as it has intertwined with the evolution of these vital yet often overlooked organisms.”—Beth Shapiro, author of How to Clone a Mammoth
- “Magisterial, fascinating, and gripping, Noah Whiteman’s Most Delicious Poison is a tour de force. With infectious enthusiasm and deep knowledge, Whiteman opens the curtain behind the substances that affect all of our lives.”—Neil Shubin, paleontologist and author of Your Inner Fish
- On Sale
- Oct 24, 2023
- Page Count
- 336 pages
- Little Brown Spark