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--Jennifer 8. Lee, author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles
"Evan Fraser and Andrew Rimas vividly recreate centuries of spice-filled ships and grain silos to show that while the pen and the gun may be the visible tools of diplomacy, the knife and fork are often the true instruments of human change. Their unsentimental march through our history and into the future reaches a conclusion that is both inspiring and unnerving: civilization is what we eat."
--Sasha Issenberg, author of The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy
"Empires of Food deals with a subject of grave importance and profound implications for the political economy of the world. Although the subject is serious, it is written in a compelling and readable style. While not pedantic or ponderous in any way, it is of impressive academic rigor. This book needs to be read and thoughtfully considered by policy-makers and citizens everywhere. And if you enjoy lunch, don't fail to read it!"
--John Manley, former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada
"With a breathtaking sweep, Empires of Food takes us on a rollicking culinary journey through the ecological history of civilization. The result is a rare treat: hard-hitting analysis cooked to read like a captivating novel. For pure pleasure or a deeper understanding of why civilizations rise and fall, it's a perfect choice for any curious mind."
--Peter Dauvergne, Professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of British Columbia, author of The Shadows of Consumption
"This isn't just first class scholarship, it's energetic writing. Fraser and Rimas have a knack for the little detail that unveils the big thought. Empires of Food is a must-read for anyone who wants to know why every night a billion people got to bed obese and another billion go to bed hungry."
--George Alagiah, author of A Passage To Africa and A Home From Home
"Empires of Food is a panoramic and prescient book which presents the challenges that civilizations have faced with agricultural production and societal fashions for food. The authors approach the issue with refreshing pragmatism and urge us to move towards a "glocal" approach to consumption norms. Their compelling narrative recognizes the value of efficient global food systems while also appreciating the importance of local connections to reduce ecological impacts. Such a vision for our palates holds much promise in balancing the debate on food ethics and sustainable development."
--Saleem H. Ali, author of Treasures of the Earth: Need, Greed and a Sustainable Future
“In offering a compelling portrait of the interplay between imperial expansion and food systems across the millennia, Empires of Food lays before us the fragility of a 21st century food system beset by climate change, rising fuel costs and a shrinking agricultural frontier and wonders whether, like the empires of the past, we will sustain a delusion of a superabundance as we careen toward a world of famine and insecurity or whether we will we find the wisdom and the means to avert catastrophe.”
--Raymond C. Offenheiser, President, Oxfam America
"Forget the old stages of human history, the familiar stone, bronze, iron age sequence: University of Guelph geographer Fraser and journalist co-author Rimas make a convincing case that food—or rather, food surpluses—best explain the rise and fall of civilizations. If cultures produce more than farmers eat, and find a way to store, transport and exchange that extra, then urban centres can flourish. Trouble is, food empires have always, so far, grown to the limits of their carrying capacity, hanging on precariously until the weather changes or pests strike, and the whole thing collapses. It’s happened everywhere, as Fraser and Rimas demonstrate in their entertaining tour of past disasters. And maybe it’s happening again: in five of the past 10 years the world has eaten more than it has produced, causing us to draw down on our grain stocks. There may yet be a lot more food to wring out of technological progress; then again, there may not be." --Mclean's
"This is a book with a big thesis and panorama. Whether writing about ancient Rome, the Mayans, China, or mediaeval Europe, 19th century Britain and 20th century USA, the authors draw us inexorably to question whether the 21st century globalizing food system is poised to be punished for forgetting the laws of ecology. Fraser and Rimas propose that seemingly impregnable societies can falter and fail if they ignore the sustainability of their food supplies." --Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy, City University, London
Loved the book start to finish. Should be interesting for anybody who eats; makes one appreciate the complex web of interactions between the farm gate and the plate.Published 12 months ago by pieter kroon
A frustrating book to read. The writers couldn't decide what sort of book to write. A history book with a grand vision of how civilisations grow and fall to the rhythm of their... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Tony O'Brien
I'm sure much research went into this book, and it is filled with interesting tid-bits of information, but as a whole, it is incoherent and inconsistent. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Michelle De Stefano
"About our food empire, the doomsayers will continue to grumble while the optimists put their faith in technology or God. The pessimists at least have the backing of history. Read morePublished on November 12, 2011 by Paul Tognetti
This book wasn't bad, but it was not what I anticipated. Based on the title and reviews I read prior to picking it up I was expecting something more along the lines of Guns, Germs,... Read morePublished on October 25, 2011 by Burgundy Damsel
I can give this book nothing but an excellent rating. One review of this book presents a strong bias giving a bad rating. Read morePublished on April 1, 2011 by Beau
It's a fascinating read! I love history and the green movement of growing food and picking up this book I feel I'm reading more than just history of people, I'm reading about the... Read morePublished on October 24, 2010 by Tiffany Ann Laufer
This is the most comprehensive book to date on the history of food systems and their important (and usually neglected) role in the collapse of civilizations. Read morePublished on August 10, 2010 by Susan