Perhaps the most intimate relationship each of us will ever have is not with any fellow member of our own human species. Instead—as you have no doubt already guessed from the subject and title of this special issue—it is between our bodies and our food.
In fact, when our editorial team first discussed pursuing this edition's theme several months ago, we all became intrigued by the intricate reciprocal interactions between us and our chow. On the one hand, we certainly are what we eat. Food constitutes our very being. It can serve up sensory delights, as senior editor Michael Moyer, who organized this single-topic issue, explains in his essay on the nature of deliciousness. It affects our long-term health, as nutrition researcher Gary Taubes discusses in “What Makes You Fat: Too Many Calories, or the Wrong Carbohydrates?” It even helped make us human; explains senior editor Kate Wong's interview with Richard Wrangham of Harvard University in “Case for (Very) Early Cooking Heats Up.”
On the other hand, we intensively manage our sources of sustenance, shaping them to our needs and desires and affecting the environment on a global scale. In “The Truth about Genetically Modified Food” David H. Freedman explains our modern breeding techniques. Culinary expert Evelyn Kim traces “Processed Food: A 2-Million-Year History” that has led to the present-day nutritional outputs of the food-industrial complex. What we ingest can even work as an ecosystem corrective, as chef Bun Lai points out in his story, “Invasive Species Menu of a World-Class Chef.”
As one editor put it, the issue ultimately is about how we play with our food and how food, in turn, plays with us. We invite you to dig in.
Science in Action: Congrats, Elif Bilgin
We have announced the 2013 winner of the $50,000 Science in Action prize, sponsored by Scientific American as part of the Google Science Fair, the annual global competition for students ages 13 to 18: Elif Bilgin, age 16, hails from Istanbul, Turkey. See “Teen Scientist’s Banana-Based Plastic Wins Science in Action Award” to learn about her remarkable work. —M.D.