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If you've ever had food poisoning, you probably feel as if you've looked Death in the face and survived. Many of our ancestors weren't so lucky.

Morton Satin's Death in the Pot (Prometheus Books, 248 pages, $24) takes the reader back through time and chronicles the effects of bad food on society.

Satin, a molecular biologist and director of technical and regulatory affairs at the Salt Institute...

Death in the Pot

... explains how the casualties of the Peloponnesian War succumbed mostly to plague and not battle. The historical record written by Thucydides contains the following description (translated by Richard Crawley):

"... people in good health were all of a sudden attacked by violent heats in the head, and redness and inflammation in the eyes, the inward parts, such as the throat or tongue.... When it fixed in the stomach, it upset it; and discharges of bile of every kind named by physicians ensued, accompanied by very great distress.... Externally the body was not very hot to the touch, nor pale in its appearance, but reddish, livid, and breaking out into small pustules and ulcers..."


Seriously though, there are many similar correlations tying food poisoning to major events in history, from the origin of "St. Anthony's Fire" to modern threats of bio-terrorism. So if you're into food and history... bon appetit!

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This page contains a single entry by Teresa Budasi published on September 4, 2007 7:43 AM.

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