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A Movable Feast: Ten Millennia of Food Globalization Hardcover – April 30, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0521793537 ISBN-10: 052179353X Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Recycling much historical material from the magisterial Cambridge World History of Food (which the author co-edited), this slender volume distills 10,000 years of food history into just 300 pages. While the first work was notable for its rich multiplicity of voices and deeply informed scholarship, this one is a bit of a hash, owing to its author's insistence on squeezing a far-ranging narrative into the narrow framework of globalism. Far from being a new economic concept, the globalization of food, asserts Kiple, is as old as agriculture itself (globalization being murkily defined as "a process of homogenization whereby the cuisines of the world have been increasingly untied from regional food production, and one that promises to make the foods of the world available to everyone in the world"). The strongest material examines the spread of agriculture and its ramifications: it's a paradox of civilization that increased food production encourages population growth, which invariably creates food shortages and disease. That said, gastronomes will find scraps to nibble on here and there—who knew, for example, that the Egyptians trained their monkeys to harvest grapes? (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"...this slender volume distills 10,000 years of food history into just 300 pages... The strongest material examines the spread of agriculture and its ramifications... gastronomes will find scraps to nibble on...."
-Publishers Weekly

"...the book is filled with many intriguing culinary facts and tasty tidbits of food history."
-Library Journal

"It is a fascinating tale... it is brimming with curious titbits... Anyone interested in the history of food for whom "The Cambridge World History of Food" seems too large a helping will find Mr Kiple's sprightly summary volume far more palatable."
-The Economist

"In a few short paragraphs, Mr. Kiple summarizes huge ideas...."
-National Post

"...delightful work... There are countless fascinating food and drink details in A Movable Feast . But Kiple's story of globalization is particularly interesting not for its incidentals but for the connections it makes between food-ways and what we would generally describe as real history."
-Jennifer Hewett, The American Interest

"...a smorgasbord of tidbits about our culinary influences, from legumes to Lent to Lindy's restaurant."
-Chicago Sun Times

"Kenneth Kiple has written a delicious history of food, from the pickings our earliest ancestors happened to find under the trees to the amazing range of food available in the nearest supermarket today, from the first domesticated pigs to the prime pork chops we ate for dinner last night. This is a cornucopia of information about food, both profound and fun, a history, a reference book, and a collection of fascinating facts."
-Bunny Crumpacker, author of The Sex Life of Food

"The subtitle suggests a pretty tall order for Mr. Kiple to deliver but he does so in a way that the linkage and connections between our neolithic ancestors and ourselves is neither to be dismissed as progress nor trifled with as evidence of what has gone wrong on our planet and its food chain over the last 10,000 years. "
-Virtual Gourmet

"As the world struggles with food safety and legislating the table, looking back at how far the world's food supply has evolved can give us perspective. Thanks to food historians and authors such as Kenneth F. Kiple we can do that....There's plenty of food for thought in these pages."
-The Toledo Blade

"...plenty of answers to intriguing questions...."
-St. Louis Post

"Is this, then, a volume, you should rush out and buy? If you chief interest is in the nutritional effects of changing diets...you might well find it worthwhile."
-Gastronomica

"I was pleased to find three commendable qualities in this well-produced and reasonably priced volume: it is packed with fascinating information; it is an admirable exposition on the human propensity to elaborate and find meaning in the most mundane daily tasks and material items; and it would be a useful supplementary text for a course in historical or colonial archaeology."
-Jonathan Driver, Simon Fraser University, Canadian Journal of Archaeology

"...Kiple must be congratulated for an informative and unusually entertaining synthesis of ten millennia of history. His expertise in the study of health and disease is apparent, and he is particularly strong when examining the relationship between food preparation, consumption patterns, and well-being."
-Canadian Journal of History

"...a book to savor, and to dip back into again and again to nibble at the storehouse of information within." -Kristen M. Burkholder, H-Atlantic
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 386 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (April 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052179353X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521793537
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,246,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Well researched and well written.
Jose Olivares
This book tracks human history and food from our earliest ancestors up to the present.
V. Kennedy
This book really gets into you, it is hard to stop reading it.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By V. Kennedy on May 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book tracks human history and food from our earliest ancestors up to the present. It's loaded with information. If you've ever been curious about where foods come from and how they've changed the world, you should read this book. I enjoyed it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stephen M. Picca MD on September 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very frustrating book. The subject is fascinating,little known and relevant to anyone that has to eat food. Brief histories of nearly all foods are presented with an emphasis on how the various foods have traveled around the globe, often by accident.The problem is the writing. It is very dry reading, coming across as something between a very knowledgeable person's notebook and the first draft of a book for the public. It is several drafts away from being ready for a popular audience. Perhaps useful to look up something specific but too poorly written for casual reading.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. C. S. Ryan on August 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A Movable Feast goes on my list of vastly disappointing books. I don't know a lot about the source material, but in the bits that I am familiar with, the writer often gets things wrong, including the spelling of the Jomon period (never mind diacritical and doubled vowel variations, which I'm very generous on, but putting an R in?), claiming that the term "tip" comes from "To Insure Prompt Service"--a linguistic myth that NO writer or researcher should take seriously--and so on. So I wonder how much of the other things are true. Sadly, the fault appears to lie in the source material, the Cambridge World History of Food, and the fact that the author didn't bother to verify any of it before producing this new work based on it. He footnoted "tip" to CWHF, but sorry, that doesn't make it true.

If I were undertaking this kind of endeavor, I would have made sure that the world hadn't moved on and improved the research since CWHF was produced, or that the original contributor hadn't made a mistake. I mean, just because something appeared in black and white with Cambridge's name on it doesn't make it true, and large compilations tend to contain errors (see Nature's report on the error rate in the Encyclopedia Britannica for an example).

Another drawback is that the book purports to have a global perspective (and Cambridge, of course, is British) but the book is heavily US-focused. That's marginally defensible on some topics, such as fast food, although it's bizarre that the book leaves you with the impression that there are literally no non-American fast food chains in the world. However, it's not at all defensible on other topics (do we need a history of regional cuisines in the US if we're not going to get it for Italy or Russia or China?).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Linnea on August 25, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
I had high hopes for this book - alas, 'twas in vain. The author is not shy about his belief that we all should be eating a high-protein & fruit/vegetable diet, and that farming has brought an an onslaught of disease and human misery to the world. Some tidbits, such as the origin and spread of different foods was interesting, but his focus was largely on proving his own theory--that the hunter-gatering lifestyle is far superior to our agricultural-based existence, and how the spread of food-stuffs and preservation methods only made everything worse.

I would have appreciated a tone that was more celebratory of food, and more information about how and why things were prepared and preserved the way they were, the cultural implications of such, etc. Apparently that is for another book (any recommendations?!).
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By Amazon Customer on January 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kiple tells us a chapter of history that most historians forget to: Food Globalization.
With the discovery of the American Continent, the European dietary profited a lot in its caloric intake with better nutrients. Potato, corn, tomato, not to mention the variety of fruits found in Brazil, diversified tastes in Europe.
Sailors, as Columbus, were responsible for spreading the "new food" worldwide, this part of history is really delightful.
The author also dicusses the consequences of bad eating habits, especially in North America. If in the past the most important issue was to feed everyone, once achieved this goal regardless the quality of the food, mankind has to cope with endemic obesity levels.
This book really gets into you, it is hard to stop reading it. When you finish it, perhaps you have the same feeling I had, that this book deserves being read again.
To summarize in a couple of words: TWO THUMBS UP.
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