Fifty Foods That Changed the Course of History

Fifty Foods That Changed the Course of History

Book - 2014
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Firefly Books Ltd

A beautifully presented guide to the foods that have had the greatest impact on human civilization.

Though many of the foods in this book are taken for granted and one (the mammoth) is no longer consumed, these foods have kept humans alive for millennia and theirs is a fascinating story.

Like the other titles in this highly-regarded series, this book organizes the fifty foods into short illustrated chapters of fascinating narratives: the "who, where, when, why and how" of each food's introduction and its impact on civilization in one or more cultural, social, commercial, political or military spheres.

These stories span human history, from our hunter-gatherer ancestors to the transatlantic slave trade, from the introduction of frozen foods, prohibition and the rise of the Mafia, to the powdered milk scandal in China. Another example is golden rice, the first genetically modified food developed for the good of humanity rather than solely for profit.

Most of the foods are familiar and their importance obvious, such as bread, sugar, wine, potato, beef and rice. Others are far less obvious. The fifty foods include:

  • Mammoth - the prehistoric giant hunted to extinction
  • Spartan black broth - the stew that sustained an army
  • Paella - the Moorish origin of jambalaya
  • Hardtack - kept Crusaders and conquerors alive
  • Cassoulet - a French town under siege "makes do" and creates a controversial masterpiece
  • Sugar - European taste for sugar and the transatlantic slave trade that ensued
  • Hamburger - the democratization of the world
  • Bananas - a murky US-EU trade war.

Fifty Foods That Changed the Course of History is an informative and entertaining look at how what we eat has made us who we are.

Book News
Author Price provides a history of the influence that food has had on the nature of society. He delves into the history of the interaction between people and the food they eat, which shows how close the connection is between the food we eat and the way we live our lives. This book is arranged loosely by date and covers food staples from the woolly mammoth during the Pleistocene period to chocolate and its origin during the 4th century CE in Mesoamerica to Swanson TV dinners, Campbell’s soup, and Starbucks coffee. Annotation ©2015 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: Richmond Hill, Ontario : Firefly Books, 2014
ISBN: 9781770854277
Characteristics: 223 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm


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