The Cambridge World History of Food

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Overview

An undertaking without parallel or precedent, this monumental, two-volume work encapsulates much of what is known of the history of food and nutrition throughout the span of human life on earth. It constitutes a vast and essential chapter in the history of human health and culture.

Ranging from the eating habits of our prehistoric ancestors to food-related policy issues we face today, this work covers the full spectrum of foods that have been hunted, gathered, cultivated, and domesticated; their nutritional makeup and uses; and their impact on cultures and demography. It offers a geographical perspective on the history and culture of food and drink and takes up subjects from food fads, prejudices, and taboos to quesitons of food toxins, additives, labeling, and entitlements. It culminates in a dictionary that identifies and sketches out brief histories of plant foods mentioned in the text—over 1,000 in all—and additionally supplies thousands of common names and synonyms for those foods.

The essays in this volume are the work of 220 experts in fifteen countries, in fields from agronomy to zoology. Every chapter is accompanied by bibliographical references.

"This outstanding work of scholarship explains what we eat and why we eat it. The multidisciplinary articles discuss both individual foods and topcs such as food fads, famine, and eating disorders."--"Outstanding Reference Sources," American Libraries, May 2001.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Ten years in the making, this compulsively readable two-volume encyclopedia is a smorgasbord of fascinating, fact-packed essays covering a delirious range of topics -- from the evolution of the human diet to issues involving nutrition, medicine, cuisines, cultural and ethnic concerns, even contemporary food-related policies.
Cuisine
An essential addition to the library of any serious chef, culinary educator, or devotee of fine cuisine.
Journal of the American Medical Association
Who can profit from this encyclopedia? All of us! Anyone working in an area related to food will find it useful. While the discussions are not exhaustive, they point the way to the expert literature. Anyone who writes or talks about nutrition or food can dip into these books and come out with some gem that will spice up their presentation. At $150, these volumes are a steal and should be on the shelf of anyone interested in any phase of food science. This reviewer really enjoyed the assignment!
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It seems inconceivable that the editors and 224 international experts who contributed to this tour de force would suggest that our Paleolithic ancestors ate healthier than humans did up to 100 years ago, but they bolster their claim with facts: because they were hunter-gatherers, our Paleolithic forebears did not stay in one place long enough to pollute the local water with waste, nor did they come to rely on one primary source of food (and thus limit their access to vitamins and proteins). In addition to looking at the relationship between what we eat today and what humans ate millions of years ago, Kiple and Ornelas explore every type of food and food supplement, the cultural history of food, opposing views of vegetarianism, and related contemporary policy issues such as the argument over food labeling. With information that is up-to-date, a format that is easy to use and a fresh, engaging approach to their subject, Kiple and Ornelas have prepared a magnificent resource. The only quibble a reader may have, which the editors readily acknowledge, is that despite its claim to be a global study, the primary focus of their work is on the U.S. and Europe, but that is because more information on the history of foods in these areas is available than anywhere else. Serious students of health and anthropology, as well as libraries, provide an obvious market for this two-volume treatise. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Bringing together contributions from 224 experts writing on the "full spectrum of foods that have been hunted, gathered, cultivated, and domesticated," editors Kiple (Bowling Green State Univ.) and Ornelas have created an outstanding new reference source. Divided into two volumes, it is composed of chapters that are then further subdivided to cover a wide range of food- and nutrition-related topics, such as the foods our ancestors ate, the domestication and development of staple plant and animal foods, nutrient deficiencies and surfeits, and contemporary food-related policy issues. The final section is a "dictionary" with brief entries for 1000 plant foods mentioned elsewhere in the text. This reference shares some elements with The Oxford Companion to Food (LJ 10/15/99), but there are also significant differences. In the Oxford volume, for instance, the alphabetically arranged entries include such dishes as karabij, marmalade, and lasagna, while the Cambridge set covers topics like famine, food psychology, and food fads. Even when both books explore the same topic, such as apples, the amount and type of information provided vary enough that most readers would want to look at both sources. Both offer information on the cuisine of different countries, but while the Oxford volume gives each country a separate entry, the Cambridge set discusses some individually and combines others under broader geographic divisions, such as Southeast Asia. When it comes to the foods of different countries and regions, the Cambridge set provides more comprehensive information but on more specialized topics, such as apricots or pears, while the Oxford volume offers more details overall. Small public libraries on a tight budget might have to opt for just the Oxford volume, but all other libraries will want both sources in their reference collections. The Cambridge World History of Food is a remarkable work of scholarship and is highly recommended. (Subject index not seen.) [Until March 31, 2001, the price is $150.--Ed.]--John Charles, Scottsdale P.L., AZ Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Florence Fabricant
...the inquisitive food lover will find much to sift through, from the beginning chapter on what ancient people ate, to one on contemporary food-policy issues....as such works go, this is one of the more thought-provoking.
New York Times
Shawn Sell
The Cambridge World History of Food , edited by Kenneth Kiple and Kriemhild Conee Ornelas (Cambridge University Press, $150) In a word: Wow. Only serious foodophiles need plunk down this much money for this much book--two huge volumes, in fact. But if you're in the market for a totally comprehensive book that serves as the last word on all things gastronomic, here's your nirvana. From the eating habits of early ancestors to food fads to the greatest movie food scene ever filmed (look it up!), the World History of Food is part fascinating reading, part essential reference tool. What's not in here doesn't exist.
—USA Today
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521402149
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1999
  • Pages: 2153
  • Product dimensions: 8.36 (w) x 10.32 (h) x 2.77 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2001

    Wow! What a great book!

    I learned so much about how food really affects the body from this book. This book is well written and comes complete with excellent pictures. I would strongly recommend this book to any enthusiastic reader.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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