Edible History of Humanity

Edible History of Humanity

by Tom Standage
3.5 36
Pub. Date:
Walker & Company
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Edible History of Humanity

More than simply sustenance, food historically has been a kind of technology, changing the course of human progress by helping to build empires, promote industrialization, and decide the outcomes of wars. Tom Standage draws on archaeology, anthropology, and economics to reveal how food has helped shape and transform societies around the world, from the emergence of farming in China by 7500 b.c. to the use of sugar cane and corn to make ethanol today. An Edible History of Humanity is a fully satisfying account of human history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802715883
Publisher: Walker & Company
Publication date: 05/19/2009
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 9.56(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.06(d)

Table of Contents


INTRODUCTION Ingredients of the Past....................ix
PART I The Edible Foundations of Civilization 1 The Invention of Farming....................3
2 The Roots of Modernity....................16
PART II Food and Social Structure 3 Food, Wealth, and Power....................31
4 Follow the Food....................48
PART III Global Highways of Food 5 Splinters of Paradise....................63
6 Seeds of Empire....................85
PART IV Food, Energy, and Industrialization 7 New World, New Foods....................107
8 The Steam Engine and the Potato....................129
PART V Food as a Weapon 9 The Fuel of War....................145
10 Food Fight....................171
PART VI Food, Population, and Development 11 Feeding the World....................199
12 Paradoxes of Plenty....................221
EPILOGUE Ingredients of the Future....................238

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An Edible History of Humanity 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Jennmarie68 More than 1 year ago
At first I thought this would be a boring "history" book, one that just rehashes everything I learned in school. Much to my shock and enjoyment it was a pretty good book. This book goes back to the very first humans and shows how food has shaped our future. From being hunter-gathers to present day humans it's amazing, and obvious, how food allowed us to make those important changes. Standage even gives some ideas on how food may shape our future. There was so much information that while not necessarily useful, was at least interesting. I never really thought about the role that food had played in our history, but after reading this book I thought to myself, "How could I not have recognized that important link?" I think food isn't at the forefront of history because it is something that we take for granted. Even when learning of times when food was rationed by different countries throughout history I never realized the role that food played in the political and cultural climates. The writing style was also nice. It wasn't mundane to read, the information was presented with a very nice flow. It wasn't an exciting book, and it wasn't one that I became captivated by, but it was enjoyable. If nothing else the knowledge I gained was worth the read. It was very interesting and I would definitely recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have learned so much by reading this book, and others similar. This author does such a wonderful job of explaining the impact of how food, core crops in particular, has changed the whole history of mankind. Critical timely developments are presented from around the world, and are presented in easy to follow timelines. Not a recipe book by any means, but in some ways more important.
mryoda More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. Very topical and insightful. The beginning and the end of the book were especially relative to the positive and negative aspects of food. I agree with other reviewers and historians that there are other things besides diplomacy and war that shape history and, I believe, that Standage's thesis and ideas are very sound and relative to today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AP World History Review: Brilliantly Unconventional This book begins with an unconventional view of "genetically modified" crops, and continues in kind for the duration of the book. Standage does a brilliant job analyzing the food we eat and how it affects the world. The book provides an escape from the realm of conventional history by analyzing one aspect of life, and showing it's development since the beginning of history.  I would recommend this book to those who desire a new way of thinking and who want to be challenged as it provides a very "outside-the-box" view of history.  His perspective of history, and style of writing provide keep this book unpredictable and intriguing through and through
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my second book from Tom Standage. After reading "A History of the World in 6 Glasses" I knew more or less what to expect. And indeed I was not disappointed. The book shows how human history was influenced by food (being anything from wheat to spices) and human race has changed the nature. And we're not talking about recent few hundred years, but a process that is taking place for last few millennia - see history of maize. The facts are well balanced, I got an impression author tries to show the process itself rather than judge it good or bad. If anything, this book shows the complexity of relationship between food, humans and the rest of the nature. As one of the reviewers said, the book makes you go "Oh... How come I did not realize that?". Very interesting reading and very well told.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book and its interesting take on how food affected history. I would have rated it higher, but the book had so many misspellings, words broken in strange and random places, unindented paragraphs and other errors that should have been taken care of before publication, that I can only conclude that the e-book edition had absolutely no proofreading done to it. It's a shame that an otherwise worthwile book is spoiled by shoddy publishing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You'll never look at corn the same; interesting fact book about the food in your kitchem
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fun look at historical events from the perspective man's pursuit of food and how it played a role in shaping the world today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An Edible History of Humanity: A Fascinating Journey with Food An Edible History of Humanity is an extremely accurate and well researched book that takes readers from the beginning of civilization to the beginning of the 21st century. It talks about the effects of food, such as civilization, war, trade and economic systems, culture, and more. I think that one of the best parts about this book is its perspective. We don't often think of food as a reason for change. It fills our bellies and then we are through with it. However, Standage shows that food can do so much more. Speaking about perspective, I would note that food is the only viewpoint from which Standage explains history. He excels at explaining and backing up facts and opinions, but the history would feel more complete if other areas of study were mentioned. However, it is still a fascinating viewpoint from which to discover world history. I started this book with the expectation of finishing it, writing a book report on it, and being done with it. However, it turned into much more. It became a study guide for me in class. It helped me to understand what we were learning in class in a much more complete way because I was very much interested in it. In fact, another one of my favorite things about An Edible History of Humanity is its relatability. Rather than reading a textbook about things that happened to other people, you can read a story about what is happening to you right now and the reason for it: food. Standage does a very good job of explaining the connection of history to life, which makes the book a more interesting read. The information within the book is divided both by topic and time. By doing this, Standage allows the information to be read quickly and concisely. It does not drag on, and it all connects in a way that makes sense to the reader. I liked reading about how agriculture caused settlement, and settlement caused disease and cities, which then caused war and industrialization, and the chain continues. It is interesting to see how somethin as simple as corn can have an effect that lasts thousands of years. In conclusion, I would recommend this book for anyone who loves food and wants to learn. Not only is it accurate with many sources other than the author's opinion included, but it is also captivating. In fact, one of the most interesting chapters is entitled "Food Fight." From gathering just enough food every day to being able to have excess food for things like genetic modification, the world has changed in so many ways and Standage analyzes it all. He also talks about how food is still involved in history and will continue to be in the future, which really completes the account and gives it a well rounded ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for summer reading for AP World History. It was the most boring book I have ever read. I would only recommend it to people who live and breathe history (and love it). It was not my type of book at all, but it might have been better if I wasnt forced to read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An interesting perspective on how food shaped history and how historical events shaped the world. Given the current (2014-2015) events in the Middle East, I found Chapter 5 on the spice trade fascinating.
justdoingthisforschool More than 1 year ago
“An Edible History of Humanity”, by Tom Standage, is a remarkable book, encompassing the many ways food has affected our society, and how we have affected our food. Standage gives facts I can imagine are only little known to man, but they are important in understanding the world we live in today. He uses the history of people, and their relationship with food, to discuss issues that have affected our current lives, without us even realizing it. Did you know that corn has grown in size since it’s native day, and the reason the early aztecs sacrificed their people was “feed back” the earth, because they believed humans were mostly created of this corn? The less the corn grew, the more people were sacrificed, and vice versa. The story was filled with facts on food that has been grown in England, South America, North America, and the way food has changed to become processed and more appealing to the public’s eye. Carrots, actually use to be purple and white, but we have grown so accustomed to our new orange carrots there is denial about it’s color. In 2001 Britain attempted to sell these white and purple carrots, and failed, when the citizens argued that purple and white carrots were not the correct color and “spoiled”. This story is written with amazing facts, with spectacular insight on how food was once used as currency, as a way of life, more so than today. It is astounding to think that so little people understand the impact of food and it’s new ways of being created, for it has changed almost more than the human race has even changed over the hundreds of years we have inhabited the Earth. Tom Standage tells beautiful stories, lost in the history of time, from the Black Plague and remedies like potatoes, to the first pineapple being brought to Europe from overseas. His book creates of sense of self indulgence, as you lose yourself in the wonders of the world. Highly recommend this to anyone looking for a great read, and to learn.
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AP World History Review: It Was Good, but not for me. As I stated in my title, this book is good, maybe even great depending on what you like. But it just wasn't for me. You can tell that the author, Tom Standage, KNOWS what he's talking about. This is also evident through his credentials, but that is for another time. ANYWAY, the reason I only gave this book three stars was because it was a bit slow and uninteresting for me. At least the information was useful, and I can honestly say I enjoyed learning. Standage, while having many hard facts and opinions about the past, also gives his insight into the not-so-distant future. Standage talks about early humans and "production limits" that they had while hunting and gathering. He also talks about specific regions of the world, like the Americas and Asia, where maize and rice helped them both to flourish, respectively. What I felt was a little unnecessary though, was Standage talking about the Earth's atmosphere and how it could not handle some of the things that us humans are doing to it. Like isn't this book supposed to be about food? Overall, very good book for people who want to learn about how food shaped humanity.
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