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The Resource Empires of food : feast, famine, and the rise and fall of civilizations, Evan D.G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas

Empires of food : feast, famine, and the rise and fall of civilizations, Evan D.G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas

Label
Empires of food : feast, famine, and the rise and fall of civilizations
Title
Empires of food
Title remainder
feast, famine, and the rise and fall of civilizations
Statement of responsibility
Evan D.G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas
Creator
Contributor
Subject
Language
eng
Review
  • The agricultural system that sustains modern society will eventually destroy it, argues this gloomy ecohistory. Leeds University agricultural researcher Fraser and Boston journalist Rimas survey a range of premodern civilizations, including Sumer, Han China, and medieval Europe, to distill the common features that allowed them to feed large urban populations: farming specialization, surpluses, trade, transportation, and food storage. Alas, the authors contend, these “food empires” bred soaring populations, exhausted soils, led to deforestation and erosion, which together with a turn in the climate, led to famine and collapse. They apply this neo-Malthusian lesson to our “cancerous” mega-agriculture, based on artificial fertilizer, fossil fuels, and mono-cropping. The authors' tour of food empires past, framed by an irrelevant narrative of a 16th-century Florentine merchant, is interesting but scattershot. Further, they fail to convince on why technological innovations in agriculture will fail, and lapse into a dubious brief for locavorism. (June 15) --Staff (Reviewed April 5, 2010) (Publishers Weekly, vol 257, issue 14, p54)
  • /* Starred Review */ A panoramic overview of the vulnerability of global food networks to climate change.In a follow-up to their previous collaboration, Beef: The Untold Story of How Milk, Meat, and Muscle Shaped the World (2008), Fraser (Environmental Studies/Leeds Univ.) and Improper Bostonian managing editor Rimas draw important lessons from the past to inform their study. "For 8000 years, food empires have expanded as far as transport and topsoil and market would allow," they write, only to collapse when faced with the effects of inevitable climate shifts exacerbated by erosion, the deterioration of irrigation systems and the failure to maintain adequate storage facilities. Their message is stark: "A sustainable food empire can only exist if most of its farms are smallish, diverse and serving customers not too far away." The shift from hunter-gatherer to agricultural societies helped create the emergence of large-scale farming of a few cash crops and laid the foundation for the expansion of major empires. Food became a commodity and only profit counted. In today's global economy, "urbanites around the world rely on just a handful of crops—wheat, maize, rice, and soy—to provide the majority of our nutrition," and these are usually grown in just a few primary areas ("Ukraine, the Great Plains and China's river valleys") Overuse of fertilizers and pesticides threaten productivity, and if oil supplies disappear, fertilizer will become unavailable and "[t]hree billion people would lose their daily sustenance." A two-degree rise in temperature would also bring the specter of mass famine despite "all [our] technological talent." Though the topic is serious, the authors provide plenty of enlightening stories, including the adventures of a 16th-century Italian merchant who spent 15 years circumnavigating the globe, and the work of St. Benedict of Nursia, who established a network of monasteries that became "a nucleus of industry and food production," producing agricultural surpluses, creating commercial networks and promoting technological advances such as iron plows and the use of oxen.Spanning the whole of human civilization, this is a compelling read for foodies, environmentalists and social and economic historians. (Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2010)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
357268
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Fraser, Evan D. G
Dewey number
641.309
Index
index present
Literary form
non fiction
Nature of contents
bibliography
http://library.link/vocab/relatedWorkOrContributorName
Rimas, Andrew
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Food
  • Food supply
  • Agriculture
Target audience
adult
http://bibfra.me/vocab/lite/titleRemainder
how civilizations revolve around the dinner table
Label
Empires of food : feast, famine, and the rise and fall of civilizations, Evan D.G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas
Instantiates
Publication
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references and index
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
778944
Dimensions
24 cm
Extent
xiii, 302 pages
Isbn
9781439101896
Isbn Type
(hardcover : alk. paper)
Lccn
2009051513
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other physical details
map
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9781439101896
  • (OCoLC)464593310
Label
Empires of food : feast, famine, and the rise and fall of civilizations, Evan D.G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas
Publication
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references and index
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
778944
Dimensions
24 cm
Extent
xiii, 302 pages
Isbn
9781439101896
Isbn Type
(hardcover : alk. paper)
Lccn
2009051513
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other physical details
map
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9781439101896
  • (OCoLC)464593310

Library Locations

    • Central LibraryBorrow it
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      30.2713021 -97.7460168
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