An Edible History of Humanity

An Edible History of Humanity

Book - 2009
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Throughout history, food has done more than simply provide sustenance. It has acted as a tool of social transformation, political organization, geopolitical competition, industrial development, military conflict and economic expansion. An Edible History of Humanity is an account of how food has helped to shape and transform societies around the world, from the emergence of farming in China by 7,500 BCE to today's use of sugar cane and corn to make ethanol.


Food has been a kind of technology, a tool that has changed the course of human progress. It helped to found, structure, and connect together civilizations worldwide, and to build empires and bring about a surge in economic development through industrialization. Food has been employed as a military and ideological weapon. And today, in the culmination of a process that has been going on for thousands of years, the foods we choose in the supermarket connect us to global debates about trade, development and the adoption of new technologies.


Drawing from many fields including genetics, archaeology, anthropology, ethno-botany and economics, the story of these food-driven transformations is a fully satisfying account of the whole of human history.

Publisher: New York : Walker & Co., c2009
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9780802715883
0802715885
Branch Call Number: 394.12 S785e 2009
Characteristics: xiii, 269 p. : ill. ; 25 cm

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AL_RACHEL Mar 09, 2017

Much of this book spoke of the involvement of food in political and military campaigns. What I was hoping for was a history of the foods rather than a history of politics surrounding food.

e
elmcsea
Jul 09, 2016

Excellent story of how food shaped human progress around the world.

s
sherit
Feb 11, 2014

A very informative book written in a rather dry style. Surely you could get more entertainment from watching the Kardishians (if that's your idea of entertainment), but you may get just a little bit smarter by reading this book.

z
zipread
Aug 27, 2011

A history of people and the plants and animals and how their existence has become intertwined over the years. I am reminded of Cultural Geography 201, circa 1965. If you took the course the content is old hat --- if you didn’t then the content may be new to you. The approach is encyclopedic --- it’s an overview. Any of the subtopics could have lent themselves to a fat book in their own right --- for example the section on food preservation, specifically canning, has been dealt with other others writing in a popular vein elsewhere. For most high school students, this material might be new. But will it hold their interest? It didn’t hold mine. You could spend your time profitably reading this book --- but you could do better.

j
jbohan
Jan 19, 2011

A well-written history of mankind and agriculture and how each has influenced the other. This is not a scholarly account, but one written for the general reader, so is short on citations, although it does have a nice bibliography. Standage's account is most interesting when he discusses the pre-Columbian and immediately post-Columbian world, least interesting when he wades into modern day food policy. He clearly has little understanding of the local food movement (he seems to think the entire movement is comprised of people who won't eat ANYTHING from outside their immediate vicinity, when this is a minority of localvores). All in all, worth a read, but only if the topic is very new to you. If it interests you, dip into some of the works in his bibliography.

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