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Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives Paperback – September 9, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Exuberant, provocative... her desire that we understand better and think more about our food, how much we waste, how much energy it consumes and how we dispose of it... It is - in the real sense of the word - vital" -- David Aaronovitch The Times "Hungry City is a sinister real-life sequel to Animal Farm with the plot turned upside down by time in ways even George Orwell could not have foreseen" Observer "Lively, wide-ranging, endlessly inquisitive... Hungry City is a smorgasbord of a book: dip into it and you will emerge with something fascinating" Independent "Absolutely crammed with eye-opening facts and figures, a hugely readable account of the part we individually play in a global problem. Highly Recommended" Publishing News "She can precis her specialist sources briskly, and her own direct research (e.g. a mega kitchen for cooking ready meals) is lively" -- Vera Rule Guardian

About the Author

Carolyn Steel is an architect, lecturer, and writer.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Random House UK; Reprint edition (March 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099584476
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099584476
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By V. Wiegel on December 9, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read the book and absolutely loved it - bought it to give as a present to friends.
The book presents a view on the relationship between cities and the way we relate to our food (production, processing, transportion, consumption). It places the relationship in a personal, historical, social-economic perspective.
Carolyn Steel present a story that is rich in detail and in concepts. Her writing style keeps a good balance, neither wooly or academic nor infantile. The reader is challenged. For anyone interested in the way we shape our world (with some of its excesses) and how it came about will find lots of interesting ideas.
One of the details I liked, for example, is about the number of apple varities in the UK (over 2000) originally grown and how nowadays most apples consumed are just two (Golden delicious and Granny smith) varieties - neither indigenous. All that because these two sorts fit the logistic, commercial requirements best though neither are particular tasty. Based on this, and many other examples, Steel shows how a particular myopic logic has led us to a situation in which we are 'poorer' in many respects.
In the discussion she doesnot spare the reader/consumer/politicians/enterpreneurs without becoming vindicative or pedantic.
The book has a strong UK outlook. For non-UK readers some more example from other countries would have been nice. I enjoyed enormously the book nonetheless.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Georgia Riepe on February 10, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Carolyn Steel wonderfully illustrates the history of our cities and their food systems from Ancient Greece and Rome through to contemporary agribusinesses, marking the path through this history with insightful commentary on the intersections of food, culture, government, and urban planning. As a British architect, she pays particular attention to ideas of modern utopia; she drives the reader to question how culture can better devise and live out sustainable cities. Anyone who is interested in broadening their perspectives of food will enjoy this, especially those who have exhausted the current base of American authors on the politics of food (Pollan, etc.). Steel's a joy to read and very hard to put down.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Greet on February 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I realy liked this book. It opened my outlook on our relation with food. At times it's scary to see that we have given power over what will be on our plate to big food concerns and the agro-industry.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author gives an intriguing account of how our relationship with food has, through the ages, shaped the environment that we live in. She tells a vivid tale that started way back when our ancestors were still hunter-gatherers. Our quest for food has determined where and how our cities are built. The processes of farming, raising animals, sourcing, storing, transporting, selling and buying, cooking, etc make up a complex network with which we are intricately linked. The evolving roles of meals shared at home or in the community tell an interesting story. As an architect, the author also has interesting insights on how food has influenced architecture and city planning.

The lively story turns rather bleak when we come to look at modern food preparation and logistics. The extent to which a few big food businesses have come to monopolise food supply in supermarkets in modern cities is truly disturbing. These conglomerates have taken over from us decisions on what foods to grow or raise, limiting varieties to those that are most suited for mass production and quick monetary return. I, for one, have given little thought to the issue before reading this book (although I have mumbled now and then about supermarkets stocking only tomatoes that are tasteless). Worse still, the great deal of processed food that the industries churn out contribute not so much to nutrition as to obesity.

For anyone interested in the subject matter, this should be a delightful read, with sobering food for thought (pardon the pun) nonetheless.
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Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives
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