For thousands of years we have grown, cooked and traded food, and over that time much has changed. Where once we subsisted on gritty, bland grains, we now enjoy culinary creations and epicurean delights made with vegetables from the New World, fish trawled from the deep sea, and flavoured with spices from the Orient.
But how did we make that change from eating for survival to the innovations of modern cuisine? How has food helped to shape our culture? And what will happen when global warming and peak oil have their inevitable effect on agriculture?
Empires of Food is an authoritative exploration of the innumerable ways that food has changed the course of history. The earliest cities, after all, were founded on the creation and exchange of food surpluses, and since then trade routes of ever greater sophistication have developed. We've built complex societies by shunting corn and wheat and rice along rivers, up deforested hillsides, and into the stockpots of history.
But we cannot go on forever. As Evan D. G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas compellingly show, the abundance that we all enjoy comes at a price, and unless we think of a more sustainable way to grow, eat and enjoy food, we may find that our civilization reaches its best before date.
Since the beginning of human history, cattle have been central to our existence, not only as a source of food and labour but also as an inspiration for art, warfare and religion. In Beef, an exuberant, panoramic view of the cow's rich history, Andrew Rimas and Evan Fraser tell the surprising story of our relationship with an animal that we have worked alongside, consumed and even worshipped for thousands of years.
Rimas and Fraser examine the bovine legacy in its entirety, from breeding to braising, from hunting to worshipping, from ancient Mediterranean bullfighting rings to the rugged pastures of eighteenth-century England. Seasoned with anecdotes and recipes from across the globe, this entertaining tale serves not only as a compelling story but also as an indictment of the perilous state of beef production in Europe and the US - a situation closer to a health and economic emergency than most would like to believe. Readers will never look at a steak the same way again.