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Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization Paperback – January 13, 2005
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
In making his argument, Manning wanders through numerous disciplines: cultural anthropology, archaeology, evolutionary biology, climatology, cognitive science and ecology, even religion. He begins with an explanation of how agriculture developed and spread despite its apparent disadvantages to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle (worse nutrition, less leisure-time) and then develops these disadvantages more fully, surveying the prevalence of famine in agricultural societies throughout history and moving through the detrimental social and ecological effects of industrial agriculture such as how it enabled the feeding of high concentrations of cheap labor.
`Against The Grain' hits a weak spot in looking at modern agricultural corporations, in particular ADM. At this point, he draws less from his apparent strengths as a writer and person - his awareness and appreciation of nature and his solid understanding of the historical breadth and scope of agriculture's effects - and loses his effectiveness as his underlying anger is displayed.Read more ›
Author Richard Manning sure got my attention with this fascinating book "Against The Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization". Manning argues that for the vast majority of history human beings were "hunter-gatherers". That is, people would migrate to where the food was and partake of a vast assortment of foods, everything from fruits and vegetables, to nuts and legumes and fresh meat. This all began to change about 10000 years ago with the advent of agriculture. Over the centuries people came to rely on fewer and fewer crops for survival. Manning notes that the pattern was virtually identical all over the world. Soon human beings came to rely on just a handful of crops, all high in carbohydrates, for survival. In recent decades the rise of huge conglomerates like ADM (Archer Daniels Midland) has further exacerbated the problem. Corporate entities do not view crops as food. Rather, they view crops as commodities and it is for this reason that family farms have all but disappeared, people in poor nations go unfed despite massive crop surplusses and those in rich nations wind up eating a largely bland and less than nutritious diet.
For those of us like myself who are poorly informed on these issues this book is certainly an eye-opener.Read more ›
Manning then moves on to discuss the social and health ramifications of putting all of our nutritional eggs into the compact grain basket. Corn has proven to be especially egregious in its full manifestations. There is also a very thorough treatment of the political strategies for foisting cheap and destructive grains on the developing world and on our own populace. We always hear about those famous "subsidies" for agriculture, and Manning takes us through exactly what that means.
As with most social criticism, this book is long on description and relatively short on prescription. Manning leaves most of the preaching implicit, with an occasional simple but revolutionary suggestion like, 'stop eating sugar and fat.' But he is clear that our salvation does not lie with more green revolutions from the top down. It will take a bottom-up food revolution, made up of organic farming, nutritional education, the rejection of soda beverages, local farmers markets, etc. Manning's book is a great contribution to the struggle.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is difficult to continue to sort out the aspects of production and political. No question we can make the products and no question that the political mavens can influence the... Read morePublished 10 months ago by judy h upton
I thoroughly enjoyed Manning's look at how agriculture (not food production) has manipulated civilization to where it is today. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Tim Leifer
Manning is a comprehensive writer with a well-documented historical perspective on the anthropology of human farming. Goes beyond the common "green" books. Makes one think.Published 23 months ago by Ric Farrell
All of Manning's writings are both educational and full of theory. His viewpoints about agriculture have changed my outlook on many things. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Noel
I loved the view from fifty thousand feet and eons of time. This book puts presents a high level perspective and megatons of food for thought.Published on November 27, 2013 by Charles F. Tutt
If you're new to this subject you'll enjoy this book as the author writes quite well and has a great command of the subject, the data, and issues. Read morePublished on September 17, 2013 by magellan
Like most books of a commentary nature, Richard Manning spends most of these pages describing how agriculture changed the world, and not with the all too common culture hype. Read morePublished on November 4, 2012 by Jerry
This book is mostly a history of socio-economic effects that agriculture has had on the history of civilization. As that, it is in excellent book. Read morePublished on August 5, 2012 by JDepew