ISBN 10: 1405189487 / ISBN 13: 9781405189484
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Inhaltsangabe: Covering 5,000 years of global history, How Food Made History traces the changing patterns of food production and consumption that have molded economic and social life and contributed fundamentally to the development of government and complex societies.   

  • Charts the changing technologies that have increased crop yields, enabled the industrial processing and preservation of food, and made transportation possible over great distances
  • Considers social attitudes towards food, religious prohibitions, health and nutrition, and the politics of distribution
  • Offers a fresh understanding of world history through the discussion of food

Rezension: From the Author: Why food matters more than almost anything else

How Food Made History makes strong claims for the fundamental role of food as a driver of global development. Food has been central to not only human history but also to changes in landscape and environment.

How Food Made History is organized around thirty claims and counterclaims about food, some of them generally accepted and influential and others highly controversial. Here are some examples to get your teeth into:

Cities, conflict, and conquest all have roots in agriculture.

The transformation of food production systems, beginning about 10,000 BP, is the most profound transition in human cultural history. Rather than being at the mercy of the natural environment and its wild resources, humans gained control of their food, manipulating the seasonal cycle of availability and climatic uncertainty. Increased food supplies enabled rapid population growth, sedentary settlement, the development of specialization and exchange, and the growth of non-agricultural economic activity. These changes led directly to stratified social organization and social complexity. Inequality and hierarchy followed inevitably, along with conflict, conquest and war. So did the flowering of art, philosophy and literature.

Philosophy and religion demonstrate cultural power by placing restrictions on food.

Taboos and prohibitions on the consumption of particular foods flourished together with the growth of the world?s major religions and philosophies. The origins of these taboos are difficult to pin down, and the range of prohibited foods varies significantly across belief systems, but generally it was easier to add new items to the prohibited list than to encourage people to consume new foods. The outcome was a further narrowing of the spectrum of potential resources, demonstrating the central role of culture in food systems.

Food production is a major cause of environmental change.

The demand for food and the spread of agricultural and pastoral systems was the major cause of global deforestation. Landscapes were further transformed by intensive farming, irrigation and terracing; by monocultural plantation systems; and ? recent times- factory farming methods. Other forms of environmental change and degradation derived from an increasing use of fertilizers and pesticides, flowing into rivers, lakes and coastal reefs.

Hunted animals are more likely to become extinct than domesticated animals.

Technologies played a greater role in determining productivity levels in hunting and fishing than they did in agriculture and the herding of semi-domesticated animals. Even small increments in capture-capacity derived from superior tools enabled hunters to substantially increase their catch. Frequently, the outcome was severe depletion of stocks and in many cases, extinctions. Domesticated animals, on the other hand, rarely suffered species-wide extinctions. The consequence of this unequal balance was global dependence for meat on a narrow range of domesticated animals, raised on industrial principles.

Culinary style emerges from famine, not abundance.

Whereas some claim that the emergence of high cuisine ? such as French or Chinese ? is a product of abundance, others make the counterclaim that it is the creation of scarcity or deprivation. An alternative way of looking at this conundrum is to argue that regular exposure to famine foods inspires creativity and elaboration of variety and culinary style that carries over into intervening moments of abundance when the lessons learned in hardship can be applied to a brilliant array of superior food resources.

People-- not disasters-- cause famine.

An important claim is that famine is the product of human ? governmental and moral ? failure rather than being caused by natural disasters. Droughts and floods serve as triggers but it is failure to plan and act, in the past as well as the present, that matters most. The consequence is that regional food crises persist in the midst of a connected world marked by global abundance ? cheap transport and cheap food ? but apparently incapable of bridging the gap.

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