May 18, 2009

An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage

Tom Standage’s AN EDIBLE HISTORY OF HUMANITY is exactly that--it is a digestible broad account of humanity through the scope of food. The book is broken up into sections that explain how time and again food changed the face of humanity. For example food is credited with civilization, exploration, and industrialization. Since humans have to eat, this book not only explores the evolution of food, but also how food helped evolve culture. This would be a great book for students at online universities who are earning degrees in nutrition or culinary arts.

Standage is particularly apt at explaining terms, and theories so the book is an informative introduction to beginning food historians. He’s also included some helpful illustrations, charts and photos. The writing tends toward academic, and the breadth of tens of thousands of years of human consumption leaves little room for detailing more than a few examples. He does take some under substantiated leaps in his theories, but the man managed to condense the known history of food into just over 270 pages. This book does compactly explain everything one should know about food history, so if you think Maize is a natural wonder or need to brush up on your facts about the effects of fertilization, definitely pick this up.


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