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Potatoes are the world's fourth most important food crop, yet they were unknown to most of humanity before 1500. Feeding the People traces the global journey of this popular foodstuff from the Andes to everywhere. The potato's global history reveals the ways in which our ideas about eating are entangled with the emergence of capitalism and its celebration of the free market. It also reminds us that ordinary people make history in ways that continue to shape our lives. Feeding the People tells the story of how eating became part of statecraft, and provides a new account of the global spread of one of the world's most successful foods.Read more
- Offers a fresh account of how a plant that in 1500 was eaten by less than 5% of the world's population is now the fourth most important global food crop
- Places food (and especially potatoes) at the heart of the profound transformations that have created the world we live in today
- Demonstrates the central role played by ordinary people in shaping how we eat today and the historical importance of mundane activities (such as eating) and ordinary things (such as potatoes)
Reviews & endorsements
‘In following the global travels of the peripatetic potato, Earle brilliantly illuminates both the origins of dietary advice that promised the key to happiness and the everyday ingenuity of farmers and cooks who really do feed the people.’ Jeffrey M. Pilcher, author of Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican FoodSee more reviews
'If they’re delicious when you choose to eat them, but penitentially bland when you’re told you have to, you may be eating potatoes, which, as Rebecca Earle argues in her brilliant study of the shape-shifting tubers, provided the first taste of the tension between personal freedom and public well-being within the modern state.' Joyce E. Chaplin, author of The First Scientific American: Benjamin Franklin and the Pursuit of Genius
'Potatoes have inspired great books and great recipes. Rebecca Earle describes some unalluring dishes, but her history - cultural, culinary, social, political, and environmental - is the cream of the crop: for coverage, scholarship, breadth and depth of erudition, vividness in exemplification, and fluency in writing no previous work can touch it.' Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, author of Out of Our Minds: What We Think and How We Came to Think It
'Feeding the People should be on the menu for anyone interested in the story behind their food.' Orlando Bird, Daily Telegraph
'A fascinating book … (Earle) writes with clarity and grace.' Gerard DeGroot, The Times
'Earle's surprisingly rich history of the potato is about a carbohydrate whose spread around the world didn't just power the people, but was the source of considerable people power.' Oliver Wiseman, The Critic
‘This passionately written book … is a rich, creative, and brilliant analysis of an absolutely not-banal foodstuff, proving once more the relevance of food for l’histoire totale.’ Peter Scholliers, Agricultural History
‘… excellent … the book is engaging and well organized … an excellent addition to any food related history text.’ Mike Timonin, Global Maritime History
‘This is a rich, creative, and brilliant analysis of an absolutely not-banal foodstuff, proving once more the relevance of food for l’histoire totale.’ Peter Scholliers, Agricultural History
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- Date Published: June 2020
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781108484060
- length: 308 pages
- dimensions: 235 x 158 x 22 mm
- weight: 0.58kg
- contains: 33 b/w illus.
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
List of figures
List of recipes
List of abbreviations
Introduction. Pouring ourselves a large gin
1. Immigrant potatoes
2. Enlightened potatoes
3. Free-market potatoes
4. Global potatoes
5. Capitalist potatoes
6. Security potatoes
Conclusions. Parmentier, peasants and personal responsibility
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