Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >
Oct 12, 2012 10:29 AM

What some good books about food production, science and history?

I can offer up the first two:

"Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond - Has an extensive section about the earliest human domestication of food organisms explaining how we ended up with the pig, chicken and cow but not the rhino, gazelle or elephant. It also talks about how the earliest human crops were mutations of wild crops that would have been at a disadvantage in the wild; thin seed husks, for example, are bad for wilderness survival but good for attracting curious human farmers. It's a high-level overview but to an amateur like me it was fascinating.

"Salt, A World History" by Marki Kurlanksy - I haven't finished this one yet but it is highly readable and I strongly recommend it. These days salt is so cheap it's almost free, so it's easy to forget that for most of human history it was an irreplaceable resource that people fought and died over just like we do over petroleum today.

I'd like to get some recommendations from the readers on Chowhound. I'm especially interested in aquaculture and early efforts at food preservation like canning and curing but all books are welcome here.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'm not so smart about science or aquaculture, but I'm especially interested in food history, its evolution and the way it enriches our life. Any recommendations?

    1 Reply
    1. re: pearlyriver

      Here's one I've read... good, though a little academic in parts:
      Food: The History of Taste, edited by Paul Freedman

      And here's one still on my "to read" list:
      Feast: Why Humans Share Food, by Martin Jones

    2. Robb Walsh has 'Sex, Death, and Oysters', the most factual and interesting of my 11 oyster books.

      1. I also enjoyed Salt.

        Bottlemania (can't remember the author) is fantastic. It is about the country's drinking water systems, the development of the bottled water industry and the impact on the environment.

        1. Science; On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee

          Food Politics by Marion Nestle

          USA History; Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky

          Social Economic; Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, How to Cook a Wolf: M. F. K. Fisher, or On a Dollar a Day. Not only about food, but it plays a huge part in them.

          1. On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee