Friday, April 24, 2009

"Dying for a hamburger"

What a fascinating and highly readable book--when was the last time you raced through a non-fiction treatise?

Dr. Waldman and Ms. Lamb have written a winner, and I'm sorry to see it buried in the Amazon stacks without notice or acclaim. I don't even remember how I stumbled on this title but I'm glad I did. In the process of explaining how a hamburger may permanently alter your brain--for the worse--the authors take the reader through the history of cognition and aging as found in scientific textbooks, philosophy, and literature to prove that losing your marbles through the years is a relatively new phenomenon.

Then they move on to cannibalism, horrific neurodegenerative diseases, the germ theory of disease, the biology of prions, the evolving nature of the human diet, the complex relationship of humans to cattle, the meat-packing industry, and international food standards.

Consider the elegance of their explanation of misfolded proteins (the biological basis of neurodegenerative diseases) as seen in the common egg white:

"Imagine a large bowl of raw egg whites. These whites are made of a protein called albumin, which is folded in a unique way.. Because of its shape, this protein is a translucent liquid and can be dissolved in water, Now place a tiny amount of the egg whites in boiling water, where it cooks immediately. The protein is still albumin, but now it is a solid instead of a liquid...there is no way that the cooked egg whites can be made to revert to their uncooked state. All these changes happen because the protein is now folded in a different manner."

Want to better understand how you might possibly cook your brains with a misguided modern diet and the inattention of those to whom we entrust our food supply? Order one of Amazon's bargain-priced, used copies--this book is great food for thought.


Wendy said...

I think I'll pass, thanks. Probably give me nightmares, or I'll stop eating altogether!!
Got any chocolate??

Writer in Residence said...

Hello Doc! I'm the co-author of Dying for a Hamburger. Many thanks for the recommendation. I'm grateful for your bringing it to the attention of your followers. Great blog! Congratulations. Best wishes, Marjorie Lamb

Ellen said...

I just read "Dying for a hamburger". I highly recommend it. A fascinating read for anyone and especially interesting to me since my mom(89) has severe dementia.