An Edible History of Humanity

Tom Standage

An Edible History of Humanity

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. 3.9 out of 5 based on 4 reviews
An Edible History of Humanity

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre History, Food & Drink
Format Hardback
Pages 368
RRP £19.99
Date of Publication May 2009
ISBN 978-1843546344
Publisher Atlantic
 

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.

Reviews

The Financial Times

Crispin Tickell

...a fascinating history of the role of food in causing, enabling and influencing successive transformations of human society... This is an extraordinary and well-told story, a much neglected dimension to history.

18/05/2009

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The Guardian

Tom Jaine

Of course, it can't live up to its title in 270 pages, but it can give useful pointers. A journalist by profession, he writes with an eye to comprehension and a sure touch with anecdote and illustration. Each chapter can be digested with the ease of a Sunday supplement... For my part, I found him more interesting on the far-flung history than the more up-to-date stuff and consider his account of the shift from hunter-gathering to settled agriculture a masterpiece of summary and explanation.

13/06/2009

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The Scotsman

Richard Bath

The strength of Standage's history is in the detail and in the way in which he persuades the reader to look at historical events through an alternate prism... it's also worth bearing in mind that at times this book, which can read like an endless succession of facts, is not always hugely entertaining. Yet if the author's concise, utilitarian prose occasionally comes across as a little uninspired, this is still a major work worthy of closer inspection.

17/05/2009

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The Sunday Times

Bee Wilson

This is a clever book. It shows how many hidden forces are at work — political, social, economic — when you sit down for dinner. What it doesn’t show is that eating is one of life’s great pleasures. Standage seems curiously closed off from the world of real human experience. His banal and punning conclusion is that “food is certain to be a vital ingredient of humanity’s future”. If something is missing here, it is passion.

17/05/2009

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