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April 23, 1973

Fringe Benefits on the Fringes of Civilization

JAMA. 1973;224(4):522. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220170048014

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Anyone traveling the bumpy road through the Sinai Desert will find it easy to understand why the promise of a land of "milk and honey" held such an appeal for the children of Israel in their 40 years of wandering. Goats and camels are scarce, cows are almost nonexistent, and flowers for the bees to feed on can be found only in the rare oasis.

Does the lacteous-mellifluous bait still retain its beckoning luster in our coronary-conscious age with cholesterol, pre-β-lipoproteins and, possibly, sucrose as acknowledged culprits? Is our contemporary desert nomad willing to enrich his diet and adopt civilized customs even at the risk of atherosclerosis? The answer is—at least in part—in the affirmative. Many Bedouin tribesmen are now finding employment in the rapidly growing desert cities, where a varied and palatable diet is available along with other benefits of modern living.

Not unexpectedly, the primitive tent dweller edging