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Exploracions pel planeta Menjar (‘Explorations on the Planet Food’) book review

  • Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit
  • November 10th, 2020
Pere Puigdomènech and the book cover.
Pere Puigdomènech and the book cover.

The autor of Exploracions pel planeta Menjar (‘Explorations on the Planet Food’), Pere Puigdoménech, born in Barcelona in 1948, with a doctorate in physical chemistry and biology, was awarded this title at the 25th edition of the «Estudi General» European Award for the Dissemination of Science in 2019 , convened by the University of Valencia and the Alzira City Council, with the collaboration of Edicions Bromera.

Highly recognised both for his merits as a researcher and for his informative role, he has received the Narcís Monturiol Medal for scientific and technological merit from the Catalan Government (1992), the Catalan Foundation for Research Award (2000), the COSCE Award of popular science (2013) and the Vicent Andrés Estellés Prize for Scientific Narrative (2006). The author is the president of the Biological Sciences Section of the Institute of Catalan Studies, and is also a member of the CSIC, the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Barcelona, the European Academy, EMBO and a foreign member of several European academies.

In this story that narrates the evolution of food from the origin of life to current times and future needs, Puigdoménech combines a balanced amenity with rigor and manages to make highly complex subjects easily understood, so that anyone can immerse yourself in this fascinating adventure. Thus, the author combines the description of scientific processes with the contribution of curious data such as that “in 2017 the number of people who died in Spain by choking during meals was higher than the number of deaths from traffic accidents”.

The development takes place through 26 chapters. In the first one, as an introduction, the author presents the world of food and makes the following reflection: “The vast travel literature that we have usually concludes that a trip is worthwhile if the trip itself enriches our personal experience and if on the way back, it allows us to have better criteria that help us enjoy a good life. This is the objective of this book”.

In the 25 chapters that form the book, the author takes us back to the beginning of life, where the first organisms already needed to eat, and describes the great changes that have occurred in the way of eating throughout the history of the human being, culminating in the development of the food industry, the food trade, agriculture and livestock as we know them today, and plant genetic improvement and the creation of genetically modified organisms.

This book makes us realise the pleasure that food entails and the influence of culture in our diet, and it also makes us reflect on the disappearance of some customs such as eating as a family and cooking at home, which are becoming more and more replaced by fast food, ready-made foods in front of a screen.

It also describes the negative consequences of the current way of eating on our planet and our health, through climate change, food and water contamination, the increase in obesity or diseases that can derive from a high consumption of meat and little varied diets. In addition, the world of food has some paradoxes since while a large number of people suffer from hunger and do not have access to food, in other countries there are great problems related to obesity and large amounts of food are wasted.

In the end, the author describes his forecasts for the future to try to avoid hunger in the world, achieve a safe diet, optimise resources, have a balanced diet where fruits and vegetables will gain importance, while meat production will be seen reduced. International food trade will continue to be essential and the demand for food will be linked to cultural and social evolution, but the human population will be aware that food production has effects on the climate and on our health.


Lluís Eixerés



Title: Exploracions pel planeta Menjar.

Author: Pere Puigdoménech.

Publishing house: Universitat de València - Edicions Bromera. 198 pages.