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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: August 2009

INTRODUCTION: FROM FORAGING TO FARMING

Summary

We will now discuss in a little more detail the Struggle for Existence” said Charles Darwin in his 1859 Origin of the Species – a struggle which Thomas Malthus had earlier called “The perpetual struggle for room and food.”

On Populations (1798)

PLANT LEAVES absorb the sun's energy and construct nutrients through photosynthesis. These are passed along to animals that swallow them when they eat the plants; to animals that eat animals that eat plants; and to other animals, including humans, who eat both plants and animals. Because such nutrients are basic to human survival, finding or producing food has been the most important historical preoccupation of humans and their ancestral species in an evolutionary journey to the top of the food chain.

The pages that follow look at the thousands of years of food finding and food producing that have carried us to the brink of food globalization – the latter a process of homogenization whereby the cuisines of the world have been increasingly untied from regional food production, and one that promises to make the foods of the world available to everyone in the world. Food globalization has grabbed headlines as cultures have circled wagons against the imperialism of multinational companies such as McDonald's and Coca Cola. But such standardized food production in which “McDonaldization” has become synonymous with food globalization is a distortion of the concept that has been going on for some 10,000 years since humans first began to control the reproduction of plants and animals; since the first wild rye was brought under cultivation in one place, wheat in another, and maize in another; since the jungle fowl of southeast Asia was transformed into the chicken of Europe and the wild boar, first domesticated in the eastern Mediterranean, became the pig during its long eastward dispersal (with many more domestications) toward Indonesia, before sailing off with the human pioneers who spread out across the Pacific.

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A Movable Feast
  • Online ISBN: 9780511512148
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511512148
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