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
Illustrations viii Preface ix Prologue: Questions of choice? 1 References 5 1 The Creation of Food Worlds 7 Making the ancient world food map 8 The origins of domestication, agriculture, and urbanization 11 Food worlds at 5000 BP 15 Seven claims 29 References 31 2 Genetics and Geography 35 Genetic modification, ancient and modern 36 Prohibitions and taboos 43 Geographical redistribution 47 Three claims 53 References 53 3 Forest, Farm, Factory 57 Forest gardens 58 Crop farming landscapes 62 Industrialized agriculture 70 Five claims 77 References 78 4 Hunting, Herding, Fishing 81 Hunting 83 Herding 91 Fishing 94 Two claims 100 References 100 5 Preservation and Processing 103 Ancient preservation 103 Ancient processing 106 Modern milling 108 Packaging 111 Freezing and chilling 112 Milk, butter, yoghurt, and cheese 115 Three claims 123 References 123 6 Trade 125 Ancient trades 126 Modern trades 131 The global supermarket 136 Two claims 140 References 141 7 Cooking, Class, and Consumption 143 Cooks 143 Cooking 146 Eating places 149 Meals and mealtimes 156 References 158 8 National, Regional, and Global Cuisines 161 Cuisine, high and low 164 The origins of cuisines 168 Megaregions and pan-ethnicity 182 Global foods 185 Three claims and counterclaims 188 References 188 9 Eating Well, Eating Badly 191 Nutrition and diet 191 Stature 195 Obesity 199 Dieting 203 Denial 204 Vegetarianism 207 References 211 10 Starving 215 Famine 217 Famine foods 224 Survival strategies 226 Food aid 228 Impact 232 Two claims 234 References 235 Conclusion: Cornucopia or Pandora's Box? 237 References 241 Suggested Further Reading 243 Index 251
“. . . an excellent short introduction for the general reader.” (BBC History Magazine, 1 October 2012)
B. W. Higman is Emeritus Professor of the Australian National University and Emeritus Professor of the University of the West Indies. He has published several books on the history of slavery and the social and economic history of the Caribbean. He has taught courses on world food history, and is the author of Jamaican Food: History, Biology, Culture (2008).
Food is at the center of life, and as such, it is a vital driver of cultural and political development. It is only recently that some societies have started to enjoy food security and year-long abundance. By asking why we choose to eat what we eat, How Food Made History examines how this transition occurred, and why these developments have varied over time and between societies. Crucially, in demonstrating the centrality of food to human development, the book illuminates broader patterns of global history. How Food Made History offers a wide-ranging overview of 5,000 years of global history, a period dominated by agriculture and urbanization. It 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. The author also charts the changing technologies that have increased crop yields, enabled the industrial processing and preservation of food, and made possible trade and transportation. Higman places recent trends, such as the co-existence of abundance and famine, obesity and dieting, into historical context and provides a fresh understanding of the importance of food in world history for modern readers.
‘How Food Made History is a magisterial work. Using an impressive array of sources, Higman situates the 20th-century green revolution within the context of the agricultural revolution that occurred in prehistory and offers surprising insights into our relationship with the natural world. This book argues convincingly that our food choices today remain remarkably similar to those that faced our distant forebears. A must-read for anyone interested in the larger history of food.’ —Darra Goldstein, Editor in Chief, Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture ‘Higman has done an admirable job of synthesizing a vast array of material into a readable account spanning millennia… a very impressive book and an enjoyable read.’ —Rebecca Earle, University of Warwick ‘A fascinating history of food but more as well: an exploration of how human beings have interacted with and affected their environment in trying to obtain enough to eat as well as seeking pleasure and variety.’ —Paul Freedman, Yale University
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