Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations
An evocative history that considers how food has shaped our world - and what the future holds
For thousands of years we have grown, cooked and traded food, and over that time much has changed. Where once we subsisted on gritty, bland grains, we now enjoy culinary creations and epicurean delights made with vegetables from the New World, fish trawled from the deep sea, and flavoured with spices from the Orient.
But how did we make that change from eating for survival to the innovations of modern cuisine? How has food helped to shape our culture? And what will happen when global warming and peak oil have their inevitable effect on agriculture?
Empires of Food is an authoritative exploration of the innumerable ways that food has changed the course of history. The earliest cities, after all, were founded on the creation and exchange of food surpluses, and since then trade routes of ever greater sophistication have developed. We've built complex societies by shunting corn and wheat and rice along rivers, up deforested hillsides, and into the stockpots of history.
But we cannot go on forever. As Evan D. G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas compellingly show, the abundance that we all enjoy comes at a price, and unless we think of a more sustainable way to grow, eat and enjoy food, we may find that our civilization reaches its best before date.
“[A] lively history of food”
“It is a dense and intensive read, but the pair's flair for scene-setting rhetoric and well-timed wit lifts it from the drier tones of academia”
Book of the Week, Time Out
“A richly entertaining history of our relationship with the food that we put on our plates”
“This isn't just first class scholarship, it's energetic writing ... a must-read for anyone who wants to know why every night a billion people got to bed obese and another billion go to bed hungry”
“It is an absorbing, fascinating and timely book. The analysis ... is compelling, and their warning is stark. Best of all, it's a rattling good read”
“Food is powerful stuff not to be trifled with. A grand read”
“A lively, informative, panic-free guide to the end of our "food empire" and where we go from here”
Jeremy Harding, Contributing Editor, LRB