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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Amy Hess-Fischl, MS, RD, LDN, BC-ADM, CDE (University of Chicago Medical Center)
Description: This is the sixth edition of a comprehensive book on the impact of a multitude of cultures on food and nutrition choices. This edition, updated four years after the previous one, provides up-to-date data regarding the different populations as well as additional exercises for students.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide an in-depth look at different cultures and their impact on nutrition and diet. The U.S. population has always been very diverse culturally, and it is our duty to understand the various cultures and be sensitive to their needs.
Audience: The book is written with registered dietitians, dietetics students, and food service workers in mind, since they have the biggest role in meal planning and diet and nutrition education. However, it can certainly be an excellent reference for other healthcare professionals, especially if they are working with a culturally diverse population.
Features: The first four chapters focus on the study of food and culture, while the remaining chapters delve into one culture per chapter, from Northern and Southern Europe to Africa and the Middle East. The final chapter covers regional America, highlighting the food specialties associated with each region. This edition includes updated population and demographic data for each culture, as well as a section for students, called Discussion Starters, that provide questions for them to think about while reading. Chapters on different cultures cover a lot of territory, discussing the cultural perspective and history of each one, traditional beliefs and practices, food habits, meal composition and daily patterns, special occasions, the role of food, and etiquette. Numerous tables detail, for example, the specific foods consumed from the food groups as well as the types of cheeses consumed, and include a figure that highlights the "hotness" of the various peppers consumed. The chapter focusing on regional America is quite fascinating, including as it does maps and tables highlighting the various food specialties within each region. For example, the map notes that the Midwest region (Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin) is known for beer and pickles, while North Carolina is known for sweet potatoes, and Nebraska is known for corned beef brisket.
Assessment: This update provides an excellent review of the various cultures nutrition professionals may encounter, along with impressive detail that will help them be culturally specific when educating clients about nutrition and diet.