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Moveable Feasts: From Ancient Rome to the 21st Century, the Incredible Journeys of the Food We Eat Paperback – October 28, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0312428143 ISBN-10: 0312428146 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; First Edition edition (October 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312428146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312428143
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,264,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Murray, a Financial Times contributor, takes a look at the literal journey of food through multilayered essays of the history of food transportation. From the banana export business of Central America (which was rife with America's economic gain and political manhandling) to the creation of the barrel (which revolutionized transcontinental trading and contributed a new dimension to the art of winemaking), the dozen chapters each start with a straightforward item-the shipping container, a tin can, a tub of yogurt, etc.-and delve into topics of greater significance like globalization, empire building, localized farming and food aid programs. For example, her essay on the amphora, a container used to carry olive oil throughout the ancient Roman Empire, not only depicts the social and economic importance of olive oil in Roman times but also leads into the contemporary debate of regional designation of origins for foods like Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or Newcastle brown ale. Erudite and thoroughly researched, this is a fascinating read for both foodies and those who love how the minutiae of life often provide a fresh lens with which to view the world. (Nov.)
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.

Review

"A fascinating chronicle of mankind's efforts to move food throughout history."--The News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina)

"[Murray's] investigations are detailed, sophisticated, and intellectually satisfying."--The Washington Post

"Hugely enjoyable . . . I've read more than my share of books about food, and this one really stands out for being well researched and highly entertaining."--Tim Zagat, cocreator and publisher of the Zagat Survey guides

"Packed with fascinating information."--The Washington Post


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Customer Reviews

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These are the sort of voyages this book describes.
HORAK
I found all of this and much more in Sarah's Moveable Feasts.
Jacquelyn A. Ottman
What a very well written, engaging, informative book!
Dan Diggles

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Cait Murphy on November 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
With a disarming combination of humor, insight and expertise, Sarah Murray tells a wonderful story -- or rather, a bunch of stories - of how food moves. Studded with fascinating examples, she ranges effortlessly from ancient Rome to modern Bombay to show how the movement of food has shaped history, as well as our own times. To be honest, this is not a question I had considered before; since reading this book, though, I find myself looking at the grocery shelves with new appreciation. Moreover, Murray makes a real contribution to the debate over "food miles," arguing persuasively it makes much more sense to look at the life cycle of food production, rather than just how many miles an item has traveled, when judging its environmental impact.
Highly recommended: Foodies, of course, will love it, but so should anyone interested in history and the environment.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By HORAK on October 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Grapes eaten in Iowa may have been on a complicated voyage from Chile. The French beans we consume come from Kenya, flown thousands of miles in refrigerated containers to London. In Beijing or Shanghai people now enjoy Italian olive oil and Japanese noodles, Belgian chocolates and French cheese. The author shows that most of what we consume travels thousands of miles from its origins to the dinner table.
Shipping food across the world has challenged the ingenuity and technical expertise of engineers and inventors of the earliest times. Today, fish is frozen and sent on a ship to China where it is defrosted and filleted before being refrozen and sent back to America or Europe. These are the sort of voyages this book describes. It shows that the movement of food, often over vast distances, has for centuries been part of human life. It also shows the complex tradeoffs that emerge as we try to ensure that our food supply, which relies heavily on fossil fuels, is sustainable. The book is very well documented and readers will realise that the things we eat and drink are eminently moveable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan H. Zeitlin on December 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"Food transport" sounds like a prosaic topic for a book but this work is the product of an intellectually curious mind. Sarah Murray has gone to great lengths to bring readers this entertaining and highly informative read; eating fermented mare's milk in Mongolia, squeezing into crowded train compartments with the Tiffin Wallas of India, and joining a flight crew for an emergency food drop from a UN World Food Transport plane.

My favorite chapter was the author's fascinating retelling of the Berlin Airlift. A topic that most of us learned at school is brought new life and energy by the author's in-depth interviews with the pilots who brought off this logistically flawless operation.

For anybody interested in history, economics, and how capitalism both solves and creates problems, I recommend, "Moveable Feasts." If you liked Tom Friedman's "The World Is Flat," you'll love this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Olivier Griot on December 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Just bought this book last week, and I couldn't put it down. As a history buff, I really enjoyed discovering how much of an impact the food trade has had on the world we live in. Through many lively stories, the author takes you all over the world. I particularly liked the chapter on the Berlin airlift, I had never realized how much what was essentially a humanitarian mission to feed people in West Berlin ended up having such a political significance. There are many other amazing stories in this book, and we should all realize, in the end, all that really matters it what we eat!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David Kloss on September 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is an enjoyable book that combines concrete information and statistics, history, and very interesting anecdotes about what lands on the dinner table. The voyages and cultural context of meals past and present are discussed in a well-written work that is fun to read. Most readers will probably have an "I never knew that!" experience while reading. For those of us that love to read, what could be better?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David Gough on December 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I found this to be an insightful, entertaining and well-written book that provides some of the human context to the debate over the carbon footprint of the food we eat. There are some shrill and ultimately uninformed voices out there: Sarah's is not one of them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard R. Wilk on July 23, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
These days I approach popular food writing by journalists with a good deal of caution. Publishers are hungry for food-related titles and they are putting out a lot of poorly-crafted and superficial work that treads the same ground over and over again. This book was a pleasant surprise, and for a jaded food. Murray is way above the average as a writer, and the theme is an important one - that humans have been moving their food around over long distances for many thousands of years. She therefore comes at the locavore phenomenon from a different direction from most, but she is sympathetic to the goals and ideals that drive the new food movement.
Murray also has an eye for intriguing details. Her chapter on barrels and cooperage is full of surprises. But do not have any illusions that you will see some serious critical scholarship here - her history of the banana trade is pretty much free of ecological catastrophes and starving peasants, and even her re-telling of the CIA-engineered coup that toppled the Arbenz regime in Guatemala is a bit sanitized. You don't sell a lot of books by being a drag and talking too much about CO2 and global climate change, or peak oil. The book hovers somewhere between "don't worry, be happy and enjoy your Chilean grapes" and "oh dear, we will have to do something." It is a serious and indigestible topic, made superficially tasty and palatable with a lot of fascinating detail and a fine sense of irony.
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