From breakfast toast to evening wine, yeast is the microscopic
thing that we cannot live without. We knew what yeast did as an
invisible brewer and baker long before we had a clue about the
existence of microorganisms. Ten thousand years ago, our ancestors
abandoned bush meat and wild fruit in favor of farming animals and
cultivating grain. Leaving the forests and grasslands, our desire
for beer and wine produced by the fungus was a major stimulus for
agricultural settlement. It takes a village to run a brewery or
tend a vineyard. We domesticated wild yeast and yeast domesticated
us. With the inevitable escape of the fungus from beer vats into
bread dough, our marriage with yeast was secured by an appetite for
fresh loaves of leavened bread. Over the millennia, we have adapted
the technologies of brewing, winemaking, and baking and have come
to rely on yeast more and more. Yeast produces corn ethanol and
other biofuels and has become the genetically-modified darling of
the pharmaceutical business as a source of human insulin and a
range of life-saving medicines. These practical uses of yeast have
been made possible by advances in our understanding of its biology,
and the power of genetic engineering has been used to modify the
fungus to do just about anything we wish. We know more about yeast
than any other organism built from complex cells like our own. To
understand yeast is to understand life. In this book Nicholas P.
Money offers a celebration of our favorite microorganism.
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Review This Product
Wed, 27 Jun 2018 | Review
by: Tanya K.
I love this book. It has actual science for intelligent people in it, with witty and amusing observations. This book takes a look at man's ancient co-dependence with yeast (the sugar fungus) and how that relationship is still going strong in the 21st century.
The author first starts off with "Yeasty Basics" - a bit of yeast biology, biochemistry and history. The role of yeast in ancient and modern alcoholic beverages (beer, wine) and food (bread, marmite) is examined. True to the subtitle, the author explains how yeast's ability to ferment sugars cultivated the beginnings of civilization. The author also expands of the role of yeast beyond just brewing and baking - yeast is also been used extensively in biologicaly research and biotechnology, such as biofuel production, synthetic silk production, and the production of some medicines (e.g. insulin, blood products, vaccines, ocriplasmin). In a chapter title "Yeasts of Wrath", the role of yeasts in human health and disease has been explored. A chapter is also dedicated to different types of yeast in the wild.
I found this book wildly entertaining, extremely interesting, educational and a joy to read.
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