Empires of Food
Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations
Publication Date: March 2012
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Using the colorful diaries of a sixteenth-century merchant as a narrative guide, Empires of Food vividly chronicles the fate of people and societies for the past 12,000 years through the foods they grew, hunted, traded, and ateand offers fascinating, and devastating, insights into what to expect in years to come. In energetic prose, agricultural expert Evan D.G. Fraser and journalist Andrew capture the flavor of places as disparate as ancient Mesopotamia and imperial Britain, taking us from the first city in the once-thriving Fertile Crescent to today’s overworked breadbaskets and rice bowls in the United States and China.
Cities, culture, art, government, and religion were founded on the creation and exchange of food surpluses. Complex societies were built by shipping grain up rivers and into the stewpots of history’s generations. But evenutally, inevitably, the crops fail, the fields erode, or the temperature drops, and the center of power shifts. Cultures descend into dark ages of poverty, famine, and war.
A fascinating, fresh history told through the prism of the dining table, Empires of Food offers a grand scope and a provocative analysis of the world today, indispensable in this time of global warming and food crises.
In a time when "super-sized" and "combo specials" are the way to order, it seems America will never face a food shortage. But a new book, Empires of Food: Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations, takes a hard look at how American habits -- in farming, eating and treating the environment -- could lead to a food famine. Host Guy Raz talks with co- author Evan Fraser about how food empires fail and if America is next. More at NPR.org
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