Throughout history, food has done more than simply provide sustenance. It has acted as a tool of social transformation, political organization, geopolitical competition, industrial development, military conflict and economic expansion. An Edible History of Humanity is an account of these other, indirect uses of food, which have helped to shape and transform societies around the world, from prehistory to the present.
Food helped to found, structure and bring together civilizations across the world. Food built empires and brought about the surge in economic development that was industrialization. Food has been employed as a military and ideological weapon. And today, in the culmination of a process that has been continuing for thousands of years, the foods we choose in the supermarket are the subject of global debates about trade, development and the adoption of new technologies.
Drawing on genetics, archaeology, anthropology, ethno-botany and economics, the story of these gastronomic revolutions is a deeply satisfying account of the whole of human history.
Tom Standage is business editor at The Economist and the author of The Turk, The Neptune File, The Victorian Internet, and A History of the World in Six Glasses. He lives in Greenwich, London.