Empires of Food: Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations

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9780099534723: Empires of Food: 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.

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About the Author:

EVAN D. G. FRASER teaches at the University of Leeds and does research on farming and the environment. He has first-hand experience with food production in a range of settings, including the UK, Thailand, Belize, British Columbia, and Ontario, and has published many scholarly research articles and book chapters, as well as policy briefs on environmental issues for senior politicians. He lives in the Yorkshire Dales with his wife and three children.

ANDREW RIMAS is a journalist in the Boston area. He is the managing editor at the Improper Bostonian Magazine and has worked as an associate editor and staff writer at Boston magazine. His work has also frequently appeared in The Boston Globe, as well as the Boston Globe magazine, the Ottawa Citizen and other publications. Along with Evan D. G. Fraser, he is the co-author of Beef: The Untold Story of How Milk, Meat, and Muscle Shaped the World.

From Publishers Weekly:

The agricultural system that sustains modern society will eventually destroy it, argues this gloomy ecohistory. Leeds University agricultural researcher Fraser and Boston journalist Rimas survey a range of premodern civilizations, including Sumer, Han China, and medieval Europe, to distill the common features that allowed them to feed large urban populations: farming specialization, surpluses, trade, transportation, and food storage. Alas, the authors contend, these food empires bred soaring populations, exhausted soils, led to deforestation and erosion, which together with a turn in the climate, led to famine and collapse. They apply this neo-Malthusian lesson to our cancerous mega-agriculture, based on artificial fertilizer, fossil fuels, and mono-cropping. The authors' tour of food empires past, framed by an irrelevant narrative of a 16th-century Florentine merchant, is interesting but scattershot. Further, they fail to convince on why technological innovations in agriculture will fail, and lapse into a dubious brief for locavorism. (June 15)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Book Description Cornerstone, United Kingdom, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099534723

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Book Description Cornerstone, United Kingdom, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099534723

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