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An Edible History of Humanity
By Tom Standage

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An Edible History of Humanity

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An Edible History of Humanity
By Tom Standage
Thorndike Press, Large Print Edition (2009)
ISBN 10: 1-4104-1850-2
ISBN 13: 978-1-4104-1850-0
Genre: History, Social Science

Reviewed by Herbert White - September 14, 2009

Food, like oxygen and water, is a necessity of life. Mankind has, however, elevated food above that of a mere necessity and turned it into an art form. Food comforts us when we are sad and it is used in a celebratory fashion when we are happy. In short, food not only fills our bellies, but it has helped to shape our society and history, and it impacts on both physical and psychological levels. In An Edible History of Humanity , Tom Standage provides an entertaining and informative overview of our relationship with food from the emergence of farming in 7500 BCE to the modern day. Throughout this narrative, Standage illustrates how food moved from being a mere necessity to a way of life, and how it ties people together.

An Edible History of Humanity is divided into six parts, covering:
  1. The Edible Foundations of Civilization
  2. Food and Social Structure
  3. Global Highways of Food
  4. Food, Energy, and Industrialization
  5. Food as a Weapon
  6. Food, Population, and Development
Compelling and eminently readable, Standage offers a unique viewpoint, food, from which to view history. Along the way he shows how the advent of farming laid the foundation upon which civilizations developed, how it shaped social organizations and intertribal and societal interactions, and how nations have used food as a weapon, a tool of colonization, friendship, and power. He also shows how food, and the trade in foodstuffs have served to open lines of communications between groups and has fostered cooperation between groups and even nations. Most important, he examines how food has led to new discoveries (one of the major ones being the New World), and how food, and its production, has aided in numerous scientific advances. In short, this is a book that will make you look at history, and food, in a new light. Food, its production and consumption, has touched every facet of our history and its influence is still felt today. This book will introduce you to some of the varied ways that food has impacted history and provides some keen insights in the role it may play in our future as human populations continue to expand, and as Global Warming hinders our ability to produce enough food to meet the basic needs of the population!


Tom Standage is business editor at The Economist magazine and the author of several books including four works of history, including A History of the World in 6 Glasses, The Turk, and The Victorian Internet. Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, only An Edible History of Humanity is available in large print.


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