Thursday, July 30, 2009

New Release: An Edible History of Humanity

I'm not sure what I was expecting from Tom Standage's An Edible History of Humanity. It would definitely be a good choice as required reading for a basic cultural anthropology class but for the average reader, it may be a bit dry. Perhaps I should have read his book on beverages at the same time! Ahh ... food humor.

This book begins with a description of hunter/gatherer societies and the human interactions that were typical in this sort of structure. Then it moves on to cultivation of grains and the creation of farm-based cultures. Soon, we have societies that travel to obtain more desirable goods from foreign lands. And finally, we have the struggles of the modern day societies to feed their entire populations. There are, of course, extensive historical examples and anecdotes to illustrate the progression of humankind and its relationship with food.

To be honest, I read about the first fifty pages of the book and then skimmed the rest. It just wasn't the right book choice to get my mind off of this sweltering summer heat. I will definitely hang on to it though and finish it at another time. It's obvious that Standage did comprehensive research and he does a good job of giving a global perspective with examples from many different cultures. I would say that if you have taken any anthropology courses or if you watch the History Channel, you have already probably been exposed to the concepts that he presents in this book. There didn't seem to be any revolutionary ideas here but it's interesting nonetheless and deserves a look if you're interested in this topic.

Heading out for a burger,

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  1. Like your new look! Very spiffy.

    And this doesn't sound like a book I would want to read anyway....

  2. Oh, unfortunate! I have wanted to read this one since hearing about it. I guess I'll have to stick with Michael Pollan.

  3. Thanks, Jenners!

    And thank you Lenore for getting my humor. :)

    Aarti - I know. The cover of this book seems to promise something a bit more amusing than what this book turned out to be.