Review essay: Food and history

  • September 2002
  • Journal of Social History 36(1):165-178+256
  • 36(1):165-178+256
  • This person is not on ResearchGate, or hasn't claimed this research yet.

Discover the world's research

  • 25+ million members
  • 160+ million publication pages
  • 2.3+ billion citations

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.

Elitsa Stoilova

  • Leslie A. Schwalm

Haripriya Rangan

  • Judith A. Carney

Michelle Alexander

  • Christopher Gerrard

Alejandra Gutierrez

  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Peter Scholliers

  • Shannon Lee Dawdy
  • Rossella Ceccarini

Peter J Atkins

  • Giorgio Riello
  • Melissa Graboyes
  • J Global Hist

Kaori O'Connor

  • John C. Super
  • Recruit researchers
  • Join for free
  • Login Email Tip: Most researchers use their institutional email address as their ResearchGate login Password Forgot password? Keep me logged in Log in or Continue with Google Welcome back! Please log in. Email · Hint Tip: Most researchers use their institutional email address as their ResearchGate login Password Forgot password? Keep me logged in Log in or Continue with Google No account? Sign up
  • Thanks to everyone who has been using our form to submit changes/corrections. We still have a backlog on that and we've had a bumpy spring, but we hope to get back on track with that work this fall.
  • We're happy to share that over HALF of the books from Lynne Olver's collection have now been cataloged. Special Collections and University Archives is working on creating some additional shelf space as this work continues. We are so grateful for the work of our colleagues in Metadata Services, who have been instrumental in making this happen!
  • You can view the list of books available so far in this search !
  • While we just got one new item to add, we have processed the manuscript materials and research files from Lynne Olver and the finding aid is online .
  • Happy 2022!
  • Apologies for some minor downtime early this month. We have some behind-the-scenes maintenance in early February that may result in some brief outages, but it shouldn't be a significant interruption
  • We've created a new form to submit broken links, offer link suggestions, and/or offer topic suggestions--see the bottom of the Food Timeline homepage (or access the form directly)!
  • We're a little behind, but we're still working on repairing some broken links this month!
  • The panel about Food Timeline that took place in December is now available online complete with transcript!
  • Our informal survey about Food Timeline is still open. Please feel free to share your thoughts with us between now and early January:
  • The video from our December 3rd panel event is online.
  • During December 2021, we are still working on updating broken links in and from the site. In some cases, we will be able to replace the link with a corrected one or to a similar resource. Unfortunately, becuase of the transient nature of the web, we may not be able to replace all existing broken links with a new one, in which case we have removed the hyperlinks. We are keeping track of links we could not replace and the next iteration of this project will be potentially identifying new resources on those topics! We appreciate your patience as we work on these improvements! Once this is done, we will be implementing a new form on the website for several uses, including reporting broken links.
  • You may notice a slow roll out of a new feature. As we update and/or create new entries for the timeline, we will be including a "date updated" for an entry and, for new entries, a "date created." We hope this will help users see when we've added new content or updated existing content.
  • There are a couple of new blog posts on the History of Food and Drink blog from Special Collections and University Archives at Virginia Tech, courtesy of our Fall 2021 Food Studies intern: .
  • We've put together a short survey to get some feedback on the current iteration of Food Timeline as we think about the future! This survey is availabe online through December 2021 and contains a few short questions: . We appreciate your input!
  • We have an upcoming, free, online event about Food Timeline on Friday, December 3, 2021 12p EST. Join us for a panel discussion featuring Assistant Director, Special Collections and University Archives, Kira Dietz, our first Food Studies program intern, and others, to celebrate Virginia Tech's acquisition of this leading food history website and digital archive and learn more about its future. Register here in advance.
  • We are building a new form to integrate into the website to report broken links, suggest new links or sources, or suggest new topics for the website. We hope to launch in early December, so stay tuned!
  • Please note: During November and December 2021, we are actively working on updating broken links in and from the site. In some cases, we will be able to replace the link with a corrected one or to a similar resource. Unfortunately, becuase of the transient nature of the web, we may not be able to replace all existing broken links with a new one, in which case we have removed the hyperlinks. We are keeping track of links we could not replace and the next iteration of this project will be potentially identifying new resources on those topics! We appreciate your patience as we work on these improvements!

Want to know more about the site's creation and history? See the " About this site " section at the bottom of this page. Want to submit a broken link, offer a link suggestion, and/or offer a topic suggestion? See the bottom of the Food Timeline homepage .


, , &

, &

, &



, &
, &

& , &

, &

& (manioc)


, &

, &
& &



, &


, &

, &


, &
, &


, &

, & &



, &



modern &








in Michigan


& ---1870s---



, &

, &

















, , , &


in LA




, &



(magazine) food ads



, &





& &





, &


Flavr Savr tomatoes &


, &

: pitta & focaccia

, &
& breads

De Re Culinaria (in Latin) & , Apicius



, &
, &
, , &
, feasts!


& &
, in Dutch

, Carolus Battus (in Dutch)

, &
Salad &
& modern version
Jamestown settlers ate (p. 20)

, Magirus (in Dutch)

(first printed Nordic cookbook)

(aka Ryaninjun)

, in Dutch
, Hannah Wooley
, colonial Dutch recipes
, Robert May

John Evelyn's

, &

, Ed. Kidder

, E. Smith




, Elizabeth Moxon




Thomas Jefferson's &
Martha Jefferson's

, from Norway


, Richard Briggs


, Amelia Simmons

, &
, &

Regency English [Jane Austen]

, Susannah Carter

, Mrs. Rundell
Lucy Emerson's

, Frederick Accum's
, & in America
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin's (Note: this is the 1848 edition; the 1826 is no longer available online)
, Margaret Dods (Scotland)

/Child & /Kitchiner

Reform Club chef Alex Soyer's , , &
, Watertown NY
, Eliza Leslie
, N.K.M. Lee

, Mary Randolph
, Sarah Josepha Hale

, Eliza Leslie
, L. Perrault, Montreal


& &
, Judith Montefiore & / Catharine Beecher

, Mrs. Hubbell
California &

, Anna Collins
/Mary Boland

(in Norwegian)
Eliza Acton's
/Simmonds (extreme cuisine)
& ,


, Richmond VA

Sanderson's &

Mrs. Goodfellow's
, Hannah Peterson
, Toronto
, & &


, Jane Cunningham Croly
New Orleans

, from cookbook

, Marion Harland
, Mary Ann Mason
, Henderson
Wilcox's & Kettner's

, Montreal
, Mrs. M. E. Porter

, Maria Parloa
, Abby Fisher

, Lafcadio Hearn
, Mrs. Hattie A. Burr
, Juliet Corson

, F.L. Gillette
, Mrs. Rorer

--> &
, Ella Eaton Kellogg
, Philip Muskett

, Carrie V. Shuman
, from Delmonico's in NYC

, Marion Ohio

, Fannie Merritt Farmer
, Oscar Tschirky (of the Waldorf)
, 35th German edition (in English)
(Swedish and English)
(in German)


, & a href="foodmeats.html#swisssteak">Swiss steak

, St. Andrews Church, Quebec
, CT
, Edwin French
, Mrs. Simon Kander

, Sarah Tyson Rorer


, Celestine Eustis
, Minnie Fox [Kentucky cookery]

& cakes
, &
, Kaleva Michigan (with English translation)
, &
, (San Francisco earthquake)
, May E. Southworth
/Escoffer (English)
, Ali-Bab (French)
, &

, Isabel Gordon Curtis
, Mrs. Mill

Charles Fellows' & Horace Kephart's
/Leith-Ross & Ruxton

, Rufus Estes
, Elvora Bucknum Perkins (vegetarian)
, Fannie Merritt Farmer
, Swift & Company
, Jane Eayre Fryer
, Emma Paddock Telford
, Lydia E. Pinkham

,Sharpe (vegetarian)
, Chong Jan Co. &
, Walter Baker & Co.
, Martha Williams
, Sara Bosse

, Council of Jewish Women
ANZAC biscuits &

, Knox Gelatin Co.
, Florence Daniel
, Exposition fare
, Grace Clergue Harrison

World War I recipes from the
Fannie Farmer's
/E. Lewis Sturtevant [1919]
, Florence Kreisler Greenbaum
, Victor Hirtzler
, Maria Gentile


, Carlotta C. Greer
, &
(with recipes)
, Emma & William McKinney

, Mary Huddleson

George Washington Carver's
, General Electric
(Prohibition cocktails)
& &

& cakes
& &

, &
, Boston MA
/Crosby Gaige
Colonel Sanders' & George Jessel's


& &
MFK Fisher's & cakes

, &
, &
& cocktails

Mr. Truman's recipes , , &

modern American



, , &


& , NYC World's Fair
, &
, &


, &



chicken soup



, &


Lynne Olver created the Food Timeline in 1999 (see the " about this site " below). In 2020, Virginia Tech University Libraries and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences (CLAHS) collaborated on a plan to offer Virginia Tech as a new home for the physical book collection and the web resource. We are beginning to plan for some future development on the site, but in the meantime, we have a few pieces of information to share about Food Timeline:

  • Lynne Olver's book collection is joining the more than 5,000 volumes that Virginia Tech Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) has relating to food and drink history . We now have more than 7,500 books and 125 manuscripts on aspects of cooking, food, drink, and agricultural history!
  • We have a new email address for Food Timeline ( [email protected] ). If you'd like to learn more about this collection or our other materials, are interested in collaborating, or need some reference help, you can reach us there. (We are still checking the existing email, but we will be phasing it out going forward.)
  • SCUA already does virtual and in-person reference as part of our mission and services, and we are happy to try and help you with questions now! We are currently open under mostly normal operations and at this time we are able to offer some reference support. We appreciate your patience as we ramp up this service (garlic pun intended?). If you are local and want to visit us, we are open Monday-Friday from 8a-5p ( appointments are encouraged, but not required) .
  • The Olver book collection is currently being cataloged, so it is not immediately available for use. We'll share more information as that effort progresses. If you are local or want to visit Virginia Tech specifically to work with these materials, please contact us first so we can discuss the options. Otherwise, we are open by-appointment to work with our other food and drink history materials.
  • SCUA is now managing @foodtimeline on Twitter , where we'll post updates about the collection, food history news, info from the Food Studies Program at Virginia Tech, and more!


The Hungry Historian

Food History

Food History Blog Cover

Food History: A Complete Guide Through Time

Food history explores how people have grown, cooked, and eaten food. It can help us learn about different cultures and their traditions. Moreover, it can help us understand how food has influenced health and nutrition. Food history shows food is more than just something we eat to survive. It is also a way of expressing […]

Food History: A Complete Guide Through Time Read More »

National Pumpkin Spice day History

National Pumpkin Spice Day History : Its Amazing & Surprising Story

Learning about the National Pumpkin Spice Day history can help you celebrate this October 1st. Picture this: the warm, comforting aroma of cinnamon, combined with nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves filling the air. These are the spices that make up the beloved pumpkin spice blend. As someone who was introduced to this spice blend over

National Pumpkin Spice Day History : Its Amazing & Surprising Story Read More »

National Gyro Day

National Gyro Day: How To Celebrate Like a Pro

National Gyro Day happens every year on September 1st in USA and other places where Gyros are famous. So mark your food calendars. Gyro is a Greek sandwich. Picture roasted meat layered with a creamy tzatziki sauce, fresh tomatoes, onions in a soft pita bread. National Gyro Day provides us a chance to learn more

National Gyro Day: How To Celebrate Like a Pro Read More »

National Food Holidays

National Food Holidays Calendar: Eat and Drink Year-Round

Did you know there are hundreds of national food holidays in the United States alone? These are days dedicated to celebrating different types foods, ingredients, or cuisines. Some are famous, for instance National Pizza Day or National Apple Pie Day. Others are not famous, like National Lima Bean Respect Day or National Cheese Doodle Day.

National Food Holidays Calendar: Eat and Drink Year-Round Read More »

National Food Days

National Food Days 101: Everything You Need to Know

Do you love food? You’re not alone. Many people celebrate their favorite dishes and cuisines on national food days. These are days for honoring specific foods or culinary traditions. They have fun activities, promotions, and social media buzz. But there’s more to these food days than meets the eye. They have rich and fascinating stories

National Food Days 101: Everything You Need to Know Read More » no longer supports Internet Explorer.

To browse and the wider internet faster and more securely, please take a few seconds to  upgrade your browser .

Enter the email address you signed up with and we'll email you a reset link.

  • We're Hiring!
  • Help Center

paper cover thumbnail

A Cultural History of Food (in Antiquity, in the Medieval Age, in the Renaissance, in the Early Modern Age, in the Age of Empire, in the Modern age)

Profile image of Ken  Albala

A Cultural History of Food presents an authoritative survey from ancient times to the present. This set of six volumes covers nearly 3,000 years of food and its physical, spiritual, social and cultural dimensions. 1. A Cultural History of Food in Antiquity (800 BCE - 500 CE) 2. A Cultural History of Food in the Medieval Age (500 - 1300) 3. A Cultural History of Food in the Renaissance (1300 - 1600) 4. A Cultural History of Food in the Early Modern Age (1600 - 1800) 5. A Cultural History of Food in the Age of Empire (1800 - 1900) 6. A Cultural History of Food in the Modern Age (1920 - 2000) Each volume discusses the same themes in its chapters: 1. Food Production 2. Food Systems 3. Food Security, Safety and Crises 4. Food and Politics 5. Eating Out 6. Professional Cooking, Kitchens and Service Work 7. Family and Domesticity 8. Body and Soul 9. Food Representations 10. World Developments This structure means readers can either have a broad overview of a period by reading a volume or follow a theme through history by reading the relevant chapter in each volume.

Related Papers

Narodna umjetnost : hrvatski časopis za etnologiju i folkloristiku

jelena ivanisevic

history of food essay

Writing Food History. A Global Perspective (eds: K. Claflin & P. Scholliers)

Peter Scholliers

In 2007 I published a survey dealing with research about Europe's foodways in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 1 Rather than being interested in the conclusions of this research, I wished to examine how scholars study food history, which offered an opportunity for testing the application and relevance of interdisciplinarity. Luckily, not only historians but also scholars who were not trained as historians investigate foodways of the past. Studying food in the modern era has indeed attracted a large number of disciplines, ranging from anthropology and sociology to communication sciences and geography. I wished to learn whether and how these approaches, methods, and insights inspired historians. My conclusions confi rmed the extraordinarily thriving interest in Europe's past foodways by an ever-growing number of disciplines, the total lack of common ground of these studies, and their hesitant interest in interdisciplinary approaches. In this chapter I want to expand this inquiry by using recent literature and asking additional questions. I am, fi rst and foremost, interested in the way historians have dealt with the overwhelming attention from other disciplines since the early 2000s. Would they welcome it and explore new themes, methods, and insights, or resist and ignore the loud knock on their door? Also, I consider the question of how amateur historians (i.e., nontrained historians as well as nonacademics) set off with historical questions and debates, apply historical concepts, search for historical sources, and refer to adequate historical literature. This chapter has three sections: the fi rst two form a chronological survey with the year 2005 as a caesura (in order not to replicate my 2007 survey and to emphasize recent developments), while the third section is a lengthy conclusion. Separate Rooms in a Cozy Hut (1960s–1980s) and Accessible Rooms in a Welcoming House (1990s–2005) Broadly speaking, two intellectual loci in food studies existed between 1900 and 1960: that of economic history and that of folklore. 2 The two neglected each other. Economic historians dealt with the food supply, hunger, and prices, while folklorists studied

Heather Stein

Food occupies a central role in all cultures. However, what we eat, how and why we eat it and where it comes from differs remarkably. This intersession course examines the sociohistorical context of food in European societies during the classical, medieval and renaissance periods. Lectures will address such topics as technology, trade networks, political institutions, religious observances, and medicinal/magical applications with respect to both staples, like bread and salt, and luxuries, such as spices and swans (!).

Bruno Laurioux

Peter Scholliers , Allen J Grieco

Peter Scholliers , Sylvie Vabre , Peter Atkins

In projects developed in the area of food history and in the different symposia organised by ICREFH in the past 30 years, the history of the senses has remained in the background. However, the senses of smell, touch, sight, hearing, and taste are appealed to when we deal with the production of foods for consumption. The use of the senses, which is quotidian, but equally ephemeral, seems to be outside of the written scholarship produced by historians. The creation, by elites, of taste, of fashion, of " bon gout " , are familiar areas of discussion today. This symposium, which will be presented for the 30th anniversary of ICREFH, proposes moving forward in our analysis of this area by drawing on recent research. Each sense can be a separate topic of historical research. However, separating each sense activated by food presents a somewhat impoverished image. In fact, all the senses are at work when we are eating. Thus, let us take them as a whole so as to seize a " balance of the senses " (Corbin), a rapport among them which can appear in the form of a hierarchy or of a balance. This ensemble is produced, it grows, it transforms, and then it sometimes disappears. Actually, the enhancement of taste indicates a constructed and deliberate hierarchical organization. In the same way, a crunch activates our sense of hearing initially, with the other senses staying in the background. All of this remains to be explored in order to evaluate and historicise the place accorded to the senses vis-à-vis food by 19th and 20th century society. We shall approach the history of food and the senses by means of an event, a product, a particular source (a family journal, a cookery book...), prohibitions, speeches… On the basis of already familiar archives or by utilising lesser known sources is it possible to generate new avenues of research or to reinterpret previous research? Three main themes have been adopted, but the organizing committee is open to other proposals: 1 – An analysis of the hierarchy of the senses in the 19th and 20th centuries, and their transformations: these can be produced in various ways: • By vocabulary: In this time period how was specific vocabulary constructed (e.g., for wine), how were words for food and the senses created? Some words disappear or change their meaning. • Can we observe geographical food distinctions that arose from the senses? Did the combination of the senses and food play a part in the creation of nations or of nationalism (national dishes and the senses that are particularly connected to them). Can we distinguish between the senses developed at home, and those developed outside of the home? Do there exist places of intensity for the senses (the kitchen, for example)? Seasons? • Is the appeal of the senses a function of social group, stages in life, type, body type (fat or thin, small or large, healthy?). The analogy between body odours or social position and certain dishes and their odours should perhaps be explored: foot odour/ cheese; poverty/cabbage smell; wealth/gameyness. • The industrialization of the senses: a new hierarchy? 2 – Production and construction of norms Are there rules, and how are they applied when it is a question of combining colours, forms, tastes, and odours? We can envisage the roles of regulations, European or national, of specific trades (doctors, cooks…), hygiene and the senses, the media: the press, radio, books, religion…

La corónica: A Journal of Medieval Hispanic Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Emily Colbert Cairns

Cooking Cultures

ishita banerjee

Registration open: ASHF 2019

Joke Mammen

Symposium fee: €90 (until 15 September €75) Reduced fee: €45 (students, Friends of the Special Collections UvA). url: registration: (Post)colonial foodways: creating, negotiating, and resisting transnational food systems Because of its manifold effects on individuals, cultures, and countries, from the 15th century onwards the colonial era had far-reaching impacts on existing foodways. Colonial rulers often imposed exploitative food systems upon the colonized, resulting in relationships that have been perpetuated, mediated, and resisted to this day. Because of their troubling and complex legacy, colonial foodways have become an essential theme in recent histories of transnational food production, consumption and trade practices from early modern mercantilism to the present. By shifting the focus from two-way colonizer-colonized relationships towards (post)colonial networks and their various nexuses, truly transnational histories are emerging that decenter Europe and go beyond traditional narratives. Food history and (post)colonial history intersect in various ways. Theories about exploration and exploitation offer insights into (proto)capitalism and the consumption of commodities, the agency of populations in the Global South, the transfer of food technologies, and the ecological impact of restructuring and repurposing vast areas of land. Studying material culture and (post)colonial food customs, furthermore, advances an in-depth understanding of the historical negotiation of identities and ideologies. The hybridization of national and migrant cuisines, culinary (neo)colonialism, and shifting perceptions of gastronomic 'authenticity' all underwrite the continuing influence of the colonial era on how we speak about food and, subsequently, about ourselves.

Food Culture and Society an International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research

Today, food historians no longer seek to legitimate their scientific interest. This is new. Only some years ago, many food historians felt the need to start their papers and books by apologizing for their subject, after which they continued by listing the very diverse but ever-essential and ...

Loading Preview

Sorry, preview is currently unavailable. You can download the paper by clicking the button above.


tarendra chourasiya

Food in Society: Economy, Culture, Geography

Peter Atkins

International Review of Social Research

Becut Marinescu Anda

Siobhan Watters


  •   We're Hiring!
  •   Help Center
  • Find new research papers in:
  • Health Sciences
  • Earth Sciences
  • Cognitive Science
  • Mathematics
  • Computer Science
  • Academia ©2024

Reviews in History logo

Covering books and digital resources across all fields of history

Like us on Facebook

ISSN 1749-8155

The Oxford Handbook of Food History

history of food essay

The field of food studies has gained significant traction over the previous two decades. Across a range of disciplines, from religious studies to anthropology to history, among others, a growing body of books, articles, and conference papers has explored the history of particular foods. This scholarship has also begun analyzing foodways, meaning how a society understands the practice of eating and imbues meals with cultural meanings. Though still an emergent area of study, enough scholarship about food and foodways has been published that an overview of the field is overdue. Thankfully, The Oxford Handbook of Food History , edited by Jeffrey Pilcher, provides such a resource. Pilcher cooks up a satisfying sampler that captures the richness of food studies from a wide range of perspectives.

Pilcher's carefully edited volume provides a thorough overview of the current state of food studies. The collection is a valuable touchstone for scholarship from various disciplines. Pilcher divides the 27 essays into five parts; these units include food histories, food studies, means of production, the circulation of food, and communities of consumption.

The handbook captures the five main themes of research in food studies via essays arranged 'along thematic and comparative lines in the hopes that national concerns will not become blinders to larger historical processes' (p. xix). Food scholars have been notable in emphasizing the blending of ingredients and cooking techniques across borders that too often limit academic research. Admittedly, much of the scholarship mirrors the disproportional number of works conducted on foodways in the United States. However, this volume succinctly demonstrates food scholars' success in not only expanding the perspectives of numerous disciplines but also breathing fresh air into what seemed exhausted topics, often by emphasizing the porousness of national borders. The field of food studies demonstrates the contribution of food to hegemonic rule, the change of culinary traditions over time, the connections between food and identity, the rise of the modern industrial food system, and evolving beliefs in dietary health.

The handbook roots food studies in scholarship dating to the inter-war period. Historians within the Annales School, namely Lucien Febvre, Marc Bloch, and Fernand Braudel, first noted the importance of food to understanding past societies. The School's scholars focused on food typically as part of works concerned with identifying broader cultural patterns of French society. Their attention to everyday life, the preoccupation with commodities among state leaders, and the values central to civilization guided the Annales historians. Food's importance within this scholarship granted a 'sense of legitimacy' to food studies (p. 12).

The chapters contained within this volume reveal the seminal nature of several more recent studies. Together, the essays provide a fascinating insight into how particular books transcend disciplines and, in this case, give impetus to academic work on food. In 1972, historian Alfred Crosby published The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 . (1) His study showed the devastating impact of disease on the native populations of the Americas. He also elaborated upon the dramatic transfer of crops and animals from the Americas to Europe, Africa, and Asia – basically anywhere imperialist trade carried the goods – and vice versa. For instance, New World tomatoes and potatoes became staples of Italian and Irish diets, respectively, while sheep introduced to Mexico changed local diets and negatively altered the landscape through overgrazing. Anthropologist Sidney Mintz's Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History , published in 1985 (2) , traces the transformative impact of sugar production from the 1600s through the 1800s. Sugar began as a product enjoyed by the rich. However, the development of Caribbean sugar plantations worked by slaves lowered the price of the commodity to the point that, by the 19th century, sugar had become a staple of working-class diets. For the working class, sugar symbolized increasing economic freedom and status even as the commodity lost favor among the wealthy. Mintz demonstrated how the study of a single commodity can expose not only how diets changed but also how labor patterns and class divisions evolved across the Atlantic world. Caroline Walker Bynum's Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women , published in 1988 (3) , argued that women in the Middle Ages used food and its relationship to religious devotion to assert themselves within their families and society. Each of these works demonstrates the importance of food as both a reflection and contributor to historical change, influencing cultural beliefs, social structure, and individual relationships.

The section on food histories offers an impressive recounting of foodways in historical research. The unit largely consists of historical perspectives on commodities and eating practices. Besides Sydney Watts' summary of the Annales School's treatment of foodways, the section contains Enrique Ochoa's look into political histories, Jeffrey Pilcher's analysis of cultural histories, Tracey Deutsch's examination of labor histories, and Rayna Green's critique of public histories. These fine essays reveal clearly how food production, famine, and supply are linked to distribution networks, control of land, and income distribution – especially as the development of empires and consumerism in the 17th century separated the culinary arts from its roots in Medieval medicine.

The section on food studies is similarly enlightening. Carole Counihan explores the role of food in shaping gender conventions. Men, for instance, consume more meat not only for the greater protein intake, but also because consumption of animals is considered more manly than consumption of vegetables. In a particularly insightful essay, anthropologists R. Kenji Tierney and Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney trace their discipline's long interest in eating customs and beliefs about food. Whether rice in Japan, corn in the Americas, or wheat in Europe, diet – particularly staples – define civilizations, providing sustenance and shaping worldviews such as religion. The Christian celebration of wine and wheat as the blood and flesh of Christ via the Eucharist signifies the importance of foods within cultural beliefs. Sierra Clark Burnett and Krishnendu Ray explore the place of food within sociology, a 'policy-focused' discipline largely concerned with the entrenched inequalities in food production and consumption (p. 138). Bertie Mandelbatt examines how geographers treat food by exposing the importance of locality to eating customs and ingredients. As he rightly notes, even those without power, such as slaves and colonial subjects were 'consumers within metropolitan political economies', and as 'knowledge transmitters critical to the functioning of empire' vital to the creation of culinary cultures around the world (p. 158). The study of foodways exposes how the seemingly powerless possessed significant influence around the globe. Charlotte Biltekoff critiques critical nutrition studies with an eye to the 'cultural politics of dietary health' (p. 173). The astute essay examines the three paradigms of nutritional science: the 'New Nutrition' fixated with calories from the 1880s to 1910s (p. 175), the 'Newer Nutrition' concerned with recently-discovered vitamins from the 1910s to 1940s (p. 176), and the 'chronic disease' era in which dieticians and doctors have fretted about rising obesity rates since the 1940s (p. 177). Rightly, she argues that the 'science of nutrition is absolutely inseparable from its moral content' (p. 181). By surveying dozens of syllabi and assignments, Jonathan Deutsch and Jeffrey Miller address the issues arising from university courses devoted to food. Their essay is a pedagogical tour de force that makes for essential reading for teachers interested in the successes and pitfalls of incorporating food into classes. Oddly, the volume lacks an essay on representations of food within literary works. Literary scholars, like their colleagues in other disciplines, have shown an increased curiosity about the uses of food in interpreting novels, poetry, and other creative works.

The essays on the means of production show the dramatic changes in the ways humans have cultivated, processed, and marketed sustenance. Sterling Evans traces the relationship of agricultural production to environmental history. Starting at the dawn of humankind, the essay outlines how the 'increasing substitution of more easily digestible animal proteins in place of plant foods protected by tough cellulose allowed the evolution of smaller digestive tracts and shifting of energy' to the brain (p. 211). Evans then traces the intensification of agriculture under colonialism as the 'solar-based ecology of agrarian empires' reached its limits by 1492 (p. 218). In recent centuries, industrial firms have significantly bolstered food production through genetic manipulation and greater use of chemicals. The consequences are evident in current climate change. Ken Albala details the strengths and weaknesses of cookbooks as historical documents. Cooking guidebooks can provide valuable biographical and cultural insights. Even noticing stains or marginalia can reveal the popularity of recipes and the mindset of former readers. Jayeeta Sharma explores the links between food and empire. From the emergence of canning in France in 1809 to the devastation of the bison herds in North America to both control Native Americans and facilitate the rise of cattle ranchers, Sharma insightfully divulges the links between industrial food production and imperial designs. The rise of industrial food production and processing receives attention from Gabriella M. Petrick. Steve Penfold investigates the emergence of the fast food industry and the incorporation of such foods within cultures around the globe. A Pizza Hut celebrated as an American institution when first opened can, within a generation, become thought of as local fare, leading Korean and other tourists to the United States surprised to see Pizza Huts in America. Though other nations have copied American-style fast food, the industry remains heavily dominated by companies based in the United States with, surprisingly, no foreign chains penetrating the American market.

The circulation of food within human society receives thorough discussion. Donna R. Gabaccia analyzes the linkage of food, mobility, and world history. She notes how a global perspective points 'to trade, to human migrations, and to media as the mechanisms by which particular foods, food practices, food technologies, and food knowledge travel across space, time, and cultural boundaries' (p. 306). Most significantly, she emphasizes that sedentism – the focus on settled civilizations –gives a false view of human history, which involves frequent motion. Paul Freedman scrutinizes the surprisingly wide-ranging medieval spice trade. Rebecca Earle recounts the global impact of the Columbian Exchange. Elias Mandala describes the ties connecting food, time, and history. André Magnan scrutinizes the two food regimes – the grain and meat trade controlled by the United Kingdom from the 1870s through 1910s as well as the politically-constructed international trade in industrialized agrofood shaped by the United States from 1945 to 1973 – that have shaped global food production since the late 19th century. Culinary tourism, in which vacationers pursue experiences with specific foods like wine or culinary cultures, receives attention from Lucy Long. Long highlights the irony that globalization has invigorated local cuisines by both encouraging attention to local products and cooking techniques, while also infusing new ideas into traditional culinary practices.

The final section, which deals with communities of consumption, reveals the centrality of food to identity. Corrie Norman traces the neglected role of food in religious belief and practices around the world. Whereas the study of sexuality has established itself as a vibrant field since the 1970s, food – so often equally regulated by religions – remains underdeveloped. Yong Chen discusses food, race, and ethnicity. Alison Smith reviews the topic of national cuisines. Rachel A. Ankeny analyzes food and ethical consumption. Her look at a wide range of movements from fair trade to veganism to slow food, among others, is a concise yet thorough review of recent concerns about sustainable food consumption. Her work suggests how the moral tone of these movements has come to bear strong religious overtones. Warren Belasco concludes the volume with a discussion of food and social movements.

Overall, this is a vital and timely gathering of scholarship. The topics contained within this collection occasionally overlap from essay to essay, but the differing perspectives offered by each contributor add fresh insight on the material covered. The general public will find this collection a stimulating introduction to the study of food and foodways. Scholars who work on food-related topics will find these essays a thoughtful assessment of the field from multiple perspectives. The range and depth of the essays within this volume reveal the maturity of food studies as a field as well as the exciting avenues available for further analysis.

  • Alfred Crosby, The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 (1972). Back to (1)
  • Sidney Mintz, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History (London, 1985). Back to (2)
  • Caroline Walker Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women (Berkeley, CA, 1988). Back to (3)

The editor would like to thank the reviewer for such a thoughtful and generous review.

  • DOI: 10.1353/JSH.2002.0110
  • Corpus ID: 145152049

Food and History

  • Published 1 September 2002
  • History, Agricultural and Food Sciences
  • Journal of Social History

31 Citations

Introduction: food as medicine, medicine as food, twenty-five years of studying un phénomène social total, information sources for food studies research, a history of local food in australia 1788-2015, food studies and sociology : a review focusing on japan, food studies and the reemergence of lévi-strauss’s structuralism in literary criticism, food, nutrition, and health in romania, ethics & food: food as a strategic commodity or a natural right of the individual.

  • Highly Influenced

Balkan food cultures and traditions

Epilogue: foods of war, and wars on food: the american military commissary and (re)shaping the american diet, 13 references, food in russian history and culture, food in global history, the cambridge world history of food, food and society in classical antiquity: otherness, food and eating in medieval europe, art, culture, and cuisine: ancient and medieval gastronomy, the oxford companion to food, wages and subsistence on spanish treasure ships, 1503-1660, dangerous tastes: the story of spices, conquista y comida : consecuencias del encuentro de dos mundos, related papers.

Showing 1 through 3 of 0 Related Papers

  • Social Justice
  • Environment
  • Health & Happiness
  • Get YES! Emails
  • Teacher Resources

history of food essay

  • Give A Gift Subscription
  • Teaching Sustainability
  • Teaching Social Justice
  • Teaching Respect & Empathy
  • Student Writing Lessons
  • Visual Learning Lessons
  • Tough Topics Discussion Guides
  • About the YES! for Teachers Program
  • Student Writing Contest

Follow YES! For Teachers

Six brilliant student essays on the power of food to spark social change.

Read winning essays from our fall 2018 “Feeding Ourselves, Feeding Our Revolutions,” student writing contest.


For the Fall 2018 student writing competition, “Feeding Ourselves, Feeding Our Revolutions,” we invited students to read the YES! Magazine article, “Cooking Stirs the Pot for Social Change,”   by Korsha Wilson and respond to this writing prompt: If you were to host a potluck or dinner to discuss a challenge facing your community or country, what food would you cook? Whom would you invite? On what issue would you deliberate? 

The Winners

From the hundreds of essays written, these six—on anti-Semitism, cultural identity, death row prisoners, coming out as transgender, climate change, and addiction—were chosen as essay winners.  Be sure to read the literary gems and catchy titles that caught our eye.

Middle School Winner: India Brown High School Winner: Grace Williams University Winner: Lillia Borodkin Powerful Voice Winner: Paisley Regester Powerful Voice Winner: Emma Lingo Powerful Voice Winner: Hayden Wilson

Literary Gems Clever Titles

Middle School Winner: India Brown  

A Feast for the Future

Close your eyes and imagine the not too distant future: The Statue of Liberty is up to her knees in water, the streets of lower Manhattan resemble the canals of Venice, and hurricanes arrive in the fall and stay until summer. Now, open your eyes and see the beautiful planet that we will destroy if we do not do something. Now is the time for change. Our future is in our control if we take actions, ranging from small steps, such as not using plastic straws, to large ones, such as reducing fossil fuel consumption and electing leaders who take the problem seriously.

 Hosting a dinner party is an extraordinary way to publicize what is at stake. At my potluck, I would serve linguini with clams. The clams would be sautéed in white wine sauce. The pasta tossed with a light coat of butter and topped with freshly shredded parmesan. I choose this meal because it cannot be made if global warming’s patterns persist. Soon enough, the ocean will be too warm to cultivate clams, vineyards will be too sweltering to grow grapes, and wheat fields will dry out, leaving us without pasta.

I think that giving my guests a delicious meal and then breaking the news to them that its ingredients would be unattainable if Earth continues to get hotter is a creative strategy to initiate action. Plus, on the off chance the conversation gets drastically tense, pasta is a relatively difficult food to throw.

In YES! Magazine’s article, “Cooking Stirs the Pot for Social Change,” Korsha Wilson says “…beyond the narrow definition of what cooking is, you can see that cooking is and has always been an act of resistance.” I hope that my dish inspires people to be aware of what’s at stake with increasing greenhouse gas emissions and work toward creating a clean energy future.

 My guest list for the potluck would include two groups of people: local farmers, who are directly and personally affected by rising temperatures, increased carbon dioxide, drought, and flooding, and people who either do not believe in human-caused climate change or don’t think it affects anyone. I would invite the farmers or farm owners because their jobs and crops are dependent on the weather. I hope that after hearing a farmer’s perspective, climate-deniers would be awakened by the truth and more receptive to the effort to reverse these catastrophic trends.

Earth is a beautiful planet that provides everything we’ll ever need, but because of our pattern of living—wasteful consumption, fossil fuel burning, and greenhouse gas emissions— our habitat is rapidly deteriorating. Whether you are a farmer, a long-shower-taking teenager, a worker in a pollution-producing factory, or a climate-denier, the future of humankind is in our hands. The choices we make and the actions we take will forever affect planet Earth.

 India Brown is an eighth grader who lives in New York City with her parents and older brother. She enjoys spending time with her friends, walking her dog, Morty, playing volleyball and lacrosse, and swimming.

High School Winner: Grace Williams

history of food essay

Apple Pie Embrace

It’s 1:47 a.m. Thanksgiving smells fill the kitchen. The sweet aroma of sugar-covered apples and buttery dough swirls into my nostrils. Fragrant orange and rosemary permeate the room and every corner smells like a stroll past the open door of a French bakery. My eleven-year-old eyes water, red with drowsiness, and refocus on the oven timer counting down. Behind me, my mom and aunt chat to no end, fueled by the seemingly self-replenishable coffee pot stashed in the corner. Their hands work fast, mashing potatoes, crumbling cornbread, and covering finished dishes in a thin layer of plastic wrap. The most my tired body can do is sit slouched on the backless wooden footstool. I bask in the heat escaping under the oven door.

 As a child, I enjoyed Thanksgiving and the preparations that came with it, but it seemed like more of a bridge between my birthday and Christmas than an actual holiday. Now, it’s a time of year I look forward to, dedicated to family, memories, and, most importantly, food. What I realized as I grew older was that my homemade Thanksgiving apple pie was more than its flaky crust and soft-fruit center. This American food symbolized a rite of passage, my Iraqi family’s ticket to assimilation. 

 Some argue that by adopting American customs like the apple pie, we lose our culture. I would argue that while American culture influences what my family eats and celebrates, it doesn’t define our character. In my family, we eat Iraqi dishes like mesta and tahini, but we also eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast. This doesn’t mean we favor one culture over the other; instead, we create a beautiful blend of the two, adapting traditions to make them our own.

 That said, my family has always been more than the “mashed potatoes and turkey” type.

My mom’s family immigrated to the United States in 1976. Upon their arrival, they encountered a deeply divided America. Racism thrived, even after the significant freedoms gained from the Civil Rights Movement a few years before. Here, my family was thrust into a completely unknown world: they didn’t speak the language, they didn’t dress normally, and dinners like riza maraka seemed strange in comparison to the Pop Tarts and Oreos lining grocery store shelves.

 If I were to host a dinner party, it would be like Thanksgiving with my Chaldean family. The guests, my extended family, are a diverse people, distinct ingredients in a sweet potato casserole, coming together to create a delicious dish.

In her article “Cooking Stirs the Pot for Social Change,” Korsha Wilson writes, “each ingredient that we use, every technique, every spice tells a story about our access, our privilege, our heritage, and our culture.” Voices around the room will echo off the walls into the late hours of the night while the hot apple pie steams at the table’s center.

We will play concan on the blanketed floor and I’ll try to understand my Toto, who, after forty years, still speaks broken English. I’ll listen to my elders as they tell stories about growing up in Unionville, Michigan, a predominately white town where they always felt like outsiders, stories of racism that I have the privilege not to experience. While snacking on sunflower seeds and salted pistachios, we’ll talk about the news- how thousands of people across the country are protesting for justice among immigrants. No one protested to give my family a voice.

Our Thanksgiving food is more than just sustenance, it is a physical representation of my family ’s blended and ever-changing culture, even after 40 years in the United States. No matter how the food on our plates changes, it will always symbolize our sense of family—immediate and extended—and our unbreakable bond.

Grace Williams, a student at Kirkwood High School in Kirkwood, Missouri, enjoys playing tennis, baking, and spending time with her family. Grace also enjoys her time as a writing editor for her school’s yearbook, the Pioneer. In the future, Grace hopes to continue her travels abroad, as well as live near extended family along the sunny beaches of La Jolla, California.

University Winner: Lillia Borodkin

history of food essay

Nourishing Change After Tragedy Strikes

In the Jewish community, food is paramount. We often spend our holidays gathered around a table, sharing a meal and reveling in our people’s story. On other sacred days, we fast, focusing instead on reflection, atonement, and forgiveness.

As a child, I delighted in the comfort of matzo ball soup, the sweetness of hamantaschen, and the beauty of braided challah. But as I grew older and more knowledgeable about my faith, I learned that the origins of these foods are not rooted in joy, but in sacrifice.

The matzo of matzo balls was a necessity as the Jewish people did not have time for their bread to rise as they fled slavery in Egypt. The hamantaschen was an homage to the hat of Haman, the villain of the Purim story who plotted the Jewish people’s destruction. The unbaked portion of braided challah was tithed by commandment to the kohen  or priests. Our food is an expression of our history, commemorating both our struggles and our triumphs.

As I write this, only days have passed since eleven Jews were killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. These people, intending only to pray and celebrate the Sabbath with their community, were murdered simply for being Jewish. This brutal event, in a temple and city much like my own, is a reminder that anti-Semitism still exists in this country. A reminder that hatred of Jews, of me, my family, and my community, is alive and flourishing in America today. The thought that a difference in religion would make some believe that others do not have the right to exist is frightening and sickening.  

 This is why, if given the chance, I would sit down the entire Jewish American community at one giant Shabbat table. I’d serve matzo ball soup, pass around loaves of challah, and do my best to offer comfort. We would take time to remember the beautiful souls lost to anti-Semitism this October and the countless others who have been victims of such hatred in the past. I would then ask that we channel all we are feeling—all the fear, confusion, and anger —into the fight.

As suggested in Korsha Wilson’s “Cooking Stirs the Pot for Social Change,” I would urge my guests to direct our passion for justice and the comfort and care provided by the food we are eating into resisting anti-Semitism and hatred of all kinds.

We must use the courage this sustenance provides to create change and honor our people’s suffering and strength. We must remind our neighbors, both Jewish and non-Jewish, that anti-Semitism is alive and well today. We must shout and scream and vote until our elected leaders take this threat to our community seriously. And, we must stand with, support, and listen to other communities that are subjected to vengeful hate today in the same way that many of these groups have supported us in the wake of this tragedy.

This terrible shooting is not the first of its kind, and if conflict and loathing are permitted to grow, I fear it will not be the last. While political change may help, the best way to target this hate is through smaller-scale actions in our own communities.

It is critical that we as a Jewish people take time to congregate and heal together, but it is equally necessary to include those outside the Jewish community to build a powerful crusade against hatred and bigotry. While convening with these individuals, we will work to end the dangerous “otherizing” that plagues our society and seek to understand that we share far more in common than we thought. As disagreements arise during our discussions, we will learn to respect and treat each other with the fairness we each desire. Together, we shall share the comfort, strength, and courage that traditional Jewish foods provide and use them to fuel our revolution. 

We are not alone in the fight despite what extremists and anti-semites might like us to believe.  So, like any Jew would do, I invite you to join me at the Shabbat table. First, we will eat. Then, we will get to work.  

Lillia Borodkin is a senior at Kent State University majoring in Psychology with a concentration in Child Psychology. She plans to attend graduate school and become a school psychologist while continuing to pursue her passion for reading and writing. Outside of class, Lillia is involved in research in the psychology department and volunteers at the Women’s Center on campus.   

Powerful Voice Winner: Paisley Regester

history of food essay

As a kid, I remember asking my friends jokingly, ”If you were stuck on a deserted island, what single item of food would you bring?” Some of my friends answered practically and said they’d bring water. Others answered comically and said they’d bring snacks like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or a banana. However, most of my friends answered sentimentally and listed the foods that made them happy. This seems like fun and games, but what happens if the hypothetical changes? Imagine being asked, on the eve of your death, to choose the final meal you will ever eat. What food would you pick? Something practical? Comical? Sentimental?  

This situation is the reality for the 2,747 American prisoners who are currently awaiting execution on death row. The grim ritual of “last meals,” when prisoners choose their final meal before execution, can reveal a lot about these individuals and what they valued throughout their lives.

It is difficult for us to imagine someone eating steak, lobster tail, apple pie, and vanilla ice cream one moment and being killed by state-approved lethal injection the next. The prisoner can only hope that the apple pie he requested tastes as good as his mom’s. Surprisingly, many people in prison decline the option to request a special last meal. We often think of food as something that keeps us alive, so is there really any point to eating if someone knows they are going to die?

“Controlling food is a means of controlling power,” said chef Sean Sherman in the YES! Magazine article “Cooking Stirs the Pot for Social Change,” by Korsha Wilson. There are deeper stories that lie behind the final meals of individuals on death row.

I want to bring awareness to the complex and often controversial conditions of this country’s criminal justice system and change the common perception of prisoners as inhuman. To accomplish this, I would host a potluck where I would recreate the last meals of prisoners sentenced to death.

In front of each plate, there would be a place card with the prisoner’s full name, the date of execution, and the method of execution. These meals could range from a plate of fried chicken, peas with butter, apple pie, and a Dr. Pepper, reminiscent of a Sunday dinner at Grandma’s, to a single olive.

Seeing these meals up close, meals that many may eat at their own table or feed to their own kids, would force attendees to face the reality of the death penalty. It will urge my guests to look at these individuals not just as prisoners, assigned a number and a death date, but as people, capable of love and rehabilitation.  

This potluck is not only about realizing a prisoner’s humanity, but it is also about recognizing a flawed criminal justice system. Over the years, I have become skeptical of the American judicial system, especially when only seven states have judges who ethnically represent the people they serve. I was shocked when I found out that the officers who killed Michael Brown and Anthony Lamar Smith were exonerated for their actions. How could that be possible when so many teens and adults of color have spent years in prison, some even executed, for crimes they never committed?  

Lawmakers, police officers, city officials, and young constituents, along with former prisoners and their families, would be invited to my potluck to start an honest conversation about the role and application of inequality, dehumanization, and racism in the death penalty. Food served at the potluck would represent the humanity of prisoners and push people to acknowledge that many inmates are victims of a racist and corrupt judicial system.

Recognizing these injustices is only the first step towards a more equitable society. The second step would be acting on these injustices to ensure that every voice is heard, even ones separated from us by prison walls. Let’s leave that for the next potluck, where I plan to serve humble pie.

Paisley Regester is a high school senior and devotes her life to activism, the arts, and adventure. Inspired by her experiences traveling abroad to Nicaragua, Mexico, and Scotland, Paisley hopes to someday write about the diverse people and places she has encountered and share her stories with the rest of the world.

Powerful Voice Winner: Emma Lingo

history of food essay

The Empty Seat

“If you aren’t sober, then I don’t want to see you on Christmas.”

Harsh words for my father to hear from his daughter but words he needed to hear. Words I needed him to understand and words he seemed to consider as he fiddled with his wine glass at the head of the table. Our guests, my grandma, and her neighbors remained resolutely silent. They were not about to defend my drunken father–or Charles as I call him–from my anger or my ultimatum.

This was the first dinner we had had together in a year. The last meal we shared ended with Charles slopping his drink all over my birthday presents and my mother explaining heroin addiction to me. So, I wasn’t surprised when Charles threw down some liquid valor before dinner in anticipation of my anger. If he wanted to be welcomed on Christmas, he needed to be sober—or he needed to be gone.

Countless dinners, holidays, and birthdays taught me that my demands for sobriety would fall on deaf ears. But not this time. Charles gave me a gift—a one of a kind, limited edition, absolutely awkward treat. One that I didn’t know how to deal with at all. Charles went home that night, smacked a bright red bow on my father, and hand-delivered him to me on Christmas morning.

He arrived for breakfast freshly showered and looking flustered. He would remember this day for once only because his daughter had scolded him into sobriety. Dad teetered between happiness and shame. Grandma distracted us from Dad’s presence by bringing the piping hot bacon and biscuits from the kitchen to the table, theatrically announcing their arrival. Although these foods were the alleged focus of the meal, the real spotlight shined on the unopened liquor cabinet in my grandma’s kitchen—the cabinet I know Charles was begging Dad to open.

I’ve isolated myself from Charles. My family has too. It means we don’t see Dad, but it’s the best way to avoid confrontation and heartache. Sometimes I find myself wondering what it would be like if we talked with him more or if he still lived nearby. Would he be less inclined to use? If all families with an addict tried to hang on to a relationship with the user, would there be fewer addicts in the world? Christmas breakfast with Dad was followed by Charles whisking him away to Colorado where pot had just been legalized. I haven’t talked to Dad since that Christmas.

As Korsha Wilson stated in her YES! Magazine article, “Cooking Stirs the Pot for Social Change,” “Sometimes what we don’t cook says more than what we do cook.” When it comes to addiction, what isn’t served is more important than what is. In quiet moments, I like to imagine a meal with my family–including Dad. He’d have a spot at the table in my little fantasy. No alcohol would push him out of his chair, the cigarettes would remain seated in his back pocket, and the stench of weed wouldn’t invade the dining room. Fruit salad and gumbo would fill the table—foods that Dad likes. We’d talk about trivial matters in life, like how school is going and what we watched last night on TV.

Dad would feel loved. We would connect. He would feel less alone. At the end of the night, he’d walk me to the door and promise to see me again soon. And I would believe him.

Emma Lingo spends her time working as an editor for her school paper, reading, and being vocal about social justice issues. Emma is active with many clubs such as Youth and Government, KHS Cares, and Peer Helpers. She hopes to be a journalist one day and to be able to continue helping out people by volunteering at local nonprofits.

Powerful Voice Winner: Hayden Wilson

history of food essay

Bittersweet Reunion

I close my eyes and envision a dinner of my wildest dreams. I would invite all of my relatives. Not just my sister who doesn’t ask how I am anymore. Not just my nephews who I’m told are too young to understand me. No, I would gather all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins to introduce them to the me they haven’t met.

For almost two years, I’ve gone by a different name that most of my family refuses to acknowledge. My aunt, a nun of 40 years, told me at a recent birthday dinner that she’d heard of my “nickname.” I didn’t want to start a fight, so I decided not to correct her. Even the ones who’ve adjusted to my name have yet to recognize the bigger issue.

Last year on Facebook, I announced to my friends and family that I am transgender. No one in my family has talked to me about it, but they have plenty to say to my parents. I feel as if this is about my parents more than me—that they’ve made some big parenting mistake. Maybe if I invited everyone to dinner and opened up a discussion, they would voice their concerns to me instead of my parents.

I would serve two different meals of comfort food to remind my family of our good times. For my dad’s family, I would cook heavily salted breakfast food, the kind my grandpa used to enjoy. He took all of his kids to IHOP every Sunday and ordered the least healthy option he could find, usually some combination of an overcooked omelet and a loaded Classic Burger. For my mom’s family, I would buy shakes and burgers from Hardee’s. In my grandma’s final weeks, she let aluminum tins of sympathy meals pile up on her dining table while she made my uncle take her to Hardee’s every day.

In her article on cooking and activism, food writer Korsha Wilson writes, “Everyone puts down their guard over a good meal, and in that space, change is possible.” Hopefully the same will apply to my guests.

When I first thought of this idea, my mind rushed to the endless negative possibilities. My nun-aunt and my two non-nun aunts who live like nuns would whip out their Bibles before I even finished my first sentence. My very liberal, state representative cousin would say how proud she is of the guy I’m becoming, but this would trigger my aunts to accuse her of corrupting my mind. My sister, who has never spoken to me about my genderidentity, would cover her children’s ears and rush them out of the house. My Great-Depression-raised grandparents would roll over in their graves, mumbling about how kids have it easy nowadays.

After mentally mapping out every imaginable terrible outcome this dinner could have, I realized a conversation is unavoidable if I want my family to accept who I am. I long to restore the deep connection I used to have with them. Though I often think these former relationships are out of reach, I won’t know until I try to repair them. For a year and a half, I’ve relied on Facebook and my parents to relay messages about my identity, but I need to tell my own story.

At first, I thought Korsha Wilson’s idea of a cooked meal leading the way to social change was too optimistic, but now I understand that I need to think more like her. Maybe, just maybe, my family could all gather around a table, enjoy some overpriced shakes, and be as close as we were when I was a little girl.

 Hayden Wilson is a 17-year-old high school junior from Missouri. He loves writing, making music, and painting. He’s a part of his school’s writing club, as well as the GSA and a few service clubs.

 Literary Gems

We received many outstanding essays for the Fall 2018 Writing Competition. Though not every participant can win the contest, we’d like to share some excerpts that caught our eye.

Thinking of the main staple of the dish—potatoes, the starchy vegetable that provides sustenance for people around the globe. The onion, the layers of sorrow and joy—a base for this dish served during the holidays.  The oil, symbolic of hope and perseverance. All of these elements come together to form this delicious oval pancake permeating with possibilities. I wonder about future possibilities as I flip the latkes.

—Nikki Markman, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, California

The egg is a treasure. It is a fragile heart of gold that once broken, flows over the blemishless surface of the egg white in dandelion colored streams, like ribbon unraveling from its spool.

—Kaylin Ku, West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South, Princeton Junction, New Jersey

If I were to bring one food to a potluck to create social change by addressing anti-Semitism, I would bring gefilte fish because it is different from other fish, just like the Jews are different from other people.  It looks more like a matzo ball than fish, smells extraordinarily fishy, and tastes like sweet brine with the consistency of a crab cake.

—Noah Glassman, Ethical Culture Fieldston School,  Bronx, New York

I would not only be serving them something to digest, I would serve them a one-of-a-kind taste of the past, a taste of fear that is felt in the souls of those whose home and land were taken away, a taste of ancestral power that still lives upon us, and a taste of the voices that want to be heard and that want the suffering of the Natives to end.

—Citlalic Anima Guevara, Wichita North High School, Wichita, Kansas

It’s the one thing that your parents make sure you have because they didn’t.  Food is what your mother gives you as she lies, telling you she already ate. It’s something not everybody is fortunate to have and it’s also what we throw away without hesitation.  Food is a blessing to me, but what is it to you?

—Mohamed Omar, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri

Filleted and fried humphead wrasse, mangrove crab with coconut milk, pounded taro, a whole roast pig, and caramelized nuts—cuisines that will not be simplified to just “food.” Because what we eat is the diligence and pride of our people—a culture that has survived and continues to thrive.

—Mayumi Remengesau, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, California

Some people automatically think I’m kosher or ask me to say prayers in Hebrew.  However, guess what? I don’t know many prayers and I eat bacon.

—Hannah Reing, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, The Bronx, New York

Everything was placed before me. Rolling up my sleeves I started cracking eggs, mixing flour, and sampling some chocolate chips, because you can never be too sure. Three separate bowls. All different sizes. Carefully, I tipped the smallest, and the medium-sized bowls into the biggest. Next, I plugged in my hand-held mixer and flicked on the switch. The beaters whirl to life. I lowered it into the bowl and witnessed the creation of something magnificent. Cookie dough.

—Cassandra Amaya, Owen Goodnight Middle School, San Marcos, Texas

Biscuits and bisexuality are both things that are in my life…My grandmother’s biscuits are the best: the good old classic Southern biscuits, crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. Except it is mostly Southern people who don’t accept me.

—Jaden Huckaby, Arbor Montessori, Decatur, Georgia

We zest the bright yellow lemons and the peels of flavor fall lightly into the batter.  To make frosting, we keep adding more and more powdered sugar until it looks like fluffy clouds with raspberry seed rain.

—Jane Minus, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Bronx, New York

Tamales for my grandma, I can still remember her skillfully spreading the perfect layer of masa on every corn husk, looking at me pitifully as my young hands fumbled with the corn wrapper, always too thick or too thin.

—Brenna Eliaz, San Marcos High School, San Marcos, Texas

Just like fry bread, MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) remind New Orleanians and others affected by disasters of the devastation throughout our city and the little amount of help we got afterward.

—Madeline Johnson, Spring Hill College, Mobile, Alabama

I would bring cream corn and buckeyes and have a big debate on whether marijuana should be illegal or not.

—Lillian Martinez, Miller Middle School, San Marcos, Texas

We would finish the meal off with a delicious apple strudel, topped with schlag, schlag, schlag, more schlag, and a cherry, and finally…more schlag (in case you were wondering, schlag is like whipped cream, but 10 times better because it is heavier and sweeter).

—Morgan Sheehan, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Bronx, New York

Clever Titles

This year we decided to do something different. We were so impressed by the number of catchy titles that we decided to feature some of our favorites. 

“Eat Like a Baby: Why Shame Has No Place at a Baby’s Dinner Plate”

—Tate Miller, Wichita North High School, Wichita, Kansas 

“The Cheese in Between”

—Jedd Horowitz, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Bronx, New York

“Harvey, Michael, Florence or Katrina? Invite Them All Because Now We Are Prepared”

—Molly Mendoza, Spring Hill College, Mobile, Alabama

“Neglecting Our Children: From Broccoli to Bullets”

—Kylie Rollings, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri  

“The Lasagna of Life”

—Max Williams, Wichita North High School, Wichita, Kansas

“Yum, Yum, Carbon Dioxide In Our Lungs”

—Melanie Eickmeyer, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri

“My Potluck, My Choice”

—Francesca Grossberg, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Bronx, New York

“Trumping with Tacos”

—Maya Goncalves, Lincoln Middle School, Ypsilanti, Michigan

“Quiche and Climate Change”

—Bernie Waldman, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Bronx, New York

“Biscuits and Bisexuality”


—Miles Oshan, San Marcos High School, San Marcos, Texas

“Bubula, Come Eat!”

—Jordan Fienberg, Ethical Culture Fieldston School,  Bronx, New York

Get Stories of Solutions to Share with Your Classroom

Teachers save 50% on YES! Magazine.

Inspiration in Your Inbox

Get the free daily newsletter from YES! Magazine: Stories of people creating a better world to inspire you and your students.


Essay on Food

Students are often asked to write an essay on Food in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Food

What is food.

Food is a substance we consume to provide nutritional support for our bodies. It usually comes from plants or animals and contains necessary nutrients, like carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, or minerals.

Types of Food

Importance of food.

Food is essential for life. It gives us energy to grow, learn, play, and stay healthy. Without food, we would not be able to survive.

Healthy Eating

Eating a balanced diet is important. This means having a variety of foods in the right proportions to maintain health and energy.

250 Words Essay on Food

The cultural significance of food.

Food is an integral part of human life, serving not just as a source of sustenance but also as a cultural artifact. It reflects our history, traditions, and identity. A single dish can narrate stories of migration, colonization, trade, and adaptation.

The Science of Food

From a biological perspective, food provides the energy and nutrients required for survival and health. The macronutrients – proteins, carbohydrates, and fats – fuel our bodies, while micronutrients like vitamins and minerals perform crucial roles in bodily processes. Understanding the science behind food can lead to improved health and lifestyle choices.

Food and Sustainability

The global food system has significant environmental implications. It is responsible for approximately one-third of greenhouse gas emissions and plays a major role in deforestation and water pollution. Adopting sustainable food practices, such as reducing meat consumption and wasting less food, can help mitigate these impacts.

Food Inequality

Despite the world producing enough food to feed everyone, millions still suffer from hunger and malnutrition. This highlights the problem of food inequality, where access to food is determined by socio-economic factors. Addressing food inequality requires systemic changes in our food systems.

Food as an Experience

Food is also an experience, a source of pleasure and comfort. The act of cooking and eating can be therapeutic, bringing people together and creating a sense of community. This experiential aspect of food adds another layer to its significance in our lives.

In conclusion, food is a complex and multifaceted topic that touches on culture, science, sustainability, inequality, and experience. Understanding its many dimensions can lead to a deeper appreciation of its role in our lives.

500 Words Essay on Food


Food, a fundamental element of life, is more than just fuel for our bodies. It is a conduit for culture, a medium for social interaction, and a cornerstone of human health. Our dietary choices have profound implications on personal health, environmental sustainability, and socio-economic dynamics.

Food is a powerful symbol of our cultural identities. It reflects our history, geography, and lifestyle. For instance, the Mediterranean diet, characterized by high consumption of olive oil, fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood, is a testament to the region’s climate and coastal location. Similarly, Indian cuisine, known for its rich spices and diverse flavors, is deeply intertwined with the country’s history of trade and cultural exchange. Food, hence, is not just about consumption, but also about preserving and transmitting cultural heritage.

Food and Health

Food and the environment.

Our food choices also have significant environmental impacts. The global food system, from agricultural production to food waste, contributes to about a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock farming, in particular, is a major source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Additionally, intensive farming practices can lead to soil degradation, water pollution, and biodiversity loss. Therefore, sustainable food production and consumption, such as plant-based diets and organic farming, are vital for mitigating environmental damage.

Food and Socio-economic Dynamics

Food is also central to socio-economic dynamics. It is a primary livelihood source for billions of people, especially in rural areas. However, the global food system is marked by stark inequalities. While over two billion people are overweight or obese, nearly 690 million people are undernourished. These disparities are exacerbated by factors like poverty, conflict, and climate change. Hence, achieving food security, defined as access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food for all, is a key development goal.

If you’re looking for more, here are essays on other interesting topics:

Apart from these, you can look at all the essays by clicking here .

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

history of food essay

The Joy of Food

  • The Communal Table
  • Sign In

history of food essay

Previous story

The Evolution of Diet

Carnivore’s Dilemma

history of food essay

By Victoria Pope

Food is more than survival. With it we make friends, court lovers, and count our blessings.

Food is more than survival. With it we make friends, court lovers, and count our blessings. The sharing of food has always been part of the human story. From Qesem Cave near Tel Aviv comes evidence of ancient meals prepared at a 300,000-year-old hearth, the oldest ever found, where diners gathered to eat together. Retrieved from the ashes of Vesuvius: a circular loaf of bread with scoring marks, baked to be divided. “To break bread together,” a phrase as old as the Bible, captures the power of a meal to forge relationships, bury anger, provoke laughter. Children make mud pies, have tea parties, trade snacks to make friends, and mimic the rituals of adults. They celebrate with sweets from the time of their first birthday, and the association of food with love will continue throughout life—and in some belief systems, into the afterlife. Consider the cultures that leave delicacies graveside to let the departed know they are not forgotten. And even when times are tough, the urge to celebrate endures. In the Antarctic in 1902, during Robert Falcon Scott’s Discovery expedition, the men prepared a fancy meal for Midwinter Day, the shortest day and longest night of the year. Hefty provisions had been brought on board. Forty-five live sheep were slaughtered and hung from the rigging, frozen by the elements until it was time to feast. The cold, the darkness, and the isolation were forgotten for a while. “With such a dinner,” Scott wrote, “we agreed that life in the Antarctic Regions was worth living.” —   Victoria Pope

Picture of children sharing an apple

This wartime photograph was published in a 1916 issue of National Geographic with a caption referring to Adam, Eve, and the apple. But more germane is how the image evokes an idyllic British landscape and the childhood pleasure of a snack after play. A. W. Cutler, National Geographic Creative

Picture of Afghan women sharing a meal

Afghan women share a meal of flatbread, goat, lamb, and fruit in the Women’s Garden, a refuge for conversation and confidences outside the city of Bamian. The garden and surrounding park were created to promote leisure activities for women and families­. For this group it includes the chance to bond over food. Lynsey Addario, Reportage by Getty Images

“I got to thinking … about all those women on the Titanic who passed up dessert.” —   Erma Bombeck

Pictures of roadside eateries

After World War I, roadside eateries like the California snack bar at right became popular. At left, from top: In Portugal a truck sells German comfort food; in Washington, D.C., a PETA protester offers meatless hot dogs; in England a beachgoer eats a packed lunch.

Picture of people eating watermelon slices at a picnic

In this 1894 photograph of an outing in the Maine woods, watermelon slices resemble oversize grins. Medieval hunting feasts and Renaissance outdoor banquets were precursors of the picnic, but the activity gained currency after the industrial revolution as a short, economical excursion. Bettmann/CORBIS

“With good friends…and good food on the board…we may well ask, When shall we live if not now?” —   M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

Pictures of people sharing meals

A shared meal binds people together, whether they’re a family saying grace (left), patients in a Croatian clinic (above, top), young men tucking into fried chicken in Accra, Ghana, or Buddhist priests near Shanghai supping on noodles in 1931.

Picture of nuns making marzipan sweets

The Sisters of the Visitation near Beirut, Lebanon, use a paste of almonds and sugar to make marzipan sweets, typically eaten around Easter. Foodstuffs are often a source of income for holy orders; the Trappists, for example, sell beer and cheese. These Maronite nuns make candy shaped like birds and flowers. Ivor Prickett, Panos pictures

“I will marry you if you promise not to make me eat eggplant.” —   Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

Pictures of meals as milestones

Meals as milestones, from top left: A cake marks a birthday in 1934. At the wedding feast of an Armenian couple in Nagorno-Karabakh, the meat dish khorovats is served along with song and dance. Foods are laid out in honor of the deceased in Belarus. At right: A joyful catch is made in Bristol Bay, Alaska.

Picture of a child eating porridge

Four-year-old Seraphin Eskildsen is immersed in a bowl of porridge at his home in Denmark. For many, a favorite childhood food summons fond memories. Chef Jacques Pépin’s was a baguette with a square of dark chocolate. For Julia Child, it was a vanilla-and-chocolate ice-cream sandwich. Joakim Eskildsen

The magazine thanks The Rockefeller Foundation and members of the National Geographic Society for their generous support of this series of articles.

history of food essay

  • Undergraduate
  • High School
  • Architecture
  • American History
  • Asian History
  • Antique Literature
  • American Literature
  • Asian Literature
  • Classic English Literature
  • World Literature
  • Creative Writing
  • Linguistics
  • Criminal Justice
  • Legal Issues
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Political Science
  • World Affairs
  • African-American Studies
  • East European Studies
  • Latin-American Studies
  • Native-American Studies
  • West European Studies
  • Family and Consumer Science
  • Social Issues
  • Women and Gender Studies
  • Social Work
  • Natural Sciences
  • Pharmacology
  • Earth science
  • Agriculture
  • Agricultural Studies
  • Computer Science
  • IT Management
  • Mathematics
  • Investments
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Engineering
  • Aeronautics
  • Medicine and Health
  • Alternative Medicine
  • Communications and Media
  • Advertising
  • Communication Strategies
  • Public Relations
  • Educational Theories
  • Teacher's Career
  • Chicago/Turabian
  • Company Analysis
  • Education Theories
  • Shakespeare
  • Canadian Studies
  • Food Safety
  • Relation of Global Warming and Extreme Weather Condition
  • Movie Review
  • Admission Essay
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Application Essay
  • Article Critique
  • Article Review
  • Article Writing
  • Book Review
  • Business Plan
  • Business Proposal
  • Capstone Project
  • Cover Letter
  • Creative Essay
  • Dissertation
  • Dissertation - Abstract
  • Dissertation - Conclusion
  • Dissertation - Discussion
  • Dissertation - Hypothesis
  • Dissertation - Introduction
  • Dissertation - Literature
  • Dissertation - Methodology
  • Dissertation - Results
  • GCSE Coursework
  • Grant Proposal
  • Marketing Plan
  • Multiple Choice Quiz
  • Personal Statement
  • Power Point Presentation
  • Power Point Presentation With Speaker Notes
  • Questionnaire
  • Reaction Paper
  • Research Paper
  • Research Proposal
  • SWOT analysis

Thesis Paper

  • Online Quiz
  • Literature Review
  • Movie Analysis
  • Statistics problem
  • Math Problem
  • All papers examples
  • How It Works
  • Money Back Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Privacy Policy
  • We Are Hiring

History of Food Preservation, Essay Example

Pages: 11

Words: 3067

Hire a Writer for Custom Essay

Use 10% Off Discount: "custom10" in 1 Click 👇

You are free to use it as an inspiration or a source for your own work.

The origin of food preservation

It is believed that the Middle East and the culture of oriental dynamically dried their foods in the hot sun as early as 12,000 BC; subsequently, cultures left more proof, and every culture had a diverse approach to drying their foods. The surprising reality about preserving foods is that it allowed each culture at almost every moment (Anderson 95). To subsist, the ancient people had to connect with nature. In frozen environments, the ancient man froze seal meats on the ice; in the tropical climate, the ancient man dried their foods in the sun.

Food preservation entailed food processing actions that inhibit the growth of microorganisms like yeast and slow down the oxidations of fat that causes rancidity. Food perseveration might also comprise a procedure that inhibits visual decaying, as enzymatic browning responds in an apple after it is cut during food preparation. By preserving food, food wastes might be managed drastically, which is a vital approach to decaying the cost of production and increasing the effectiveness of the food system. Enhanced food safety, as well as nutrition, might contribute towards ecological sustainability. For instance, it will lead to a reduction of the ecological effect of food productions.

Many procedures aimed at preserving food entail more than food preservation methodologies. Fruits preservation by turning it into a jam, for instance, entails boiling and selling in an airtight jar to avoid recontaminations. Diverse food preservation approaches have diverse effects on the quality of foods and food systems (Badiane and Delgado 129). Some custom approaches to preserving foods have depicted lower energy inputs and carbon footprints contrasted to the contemporary approach. Some of the approaches to preserving food are known to create carcinogens.

Comparing AND contrasting the methods and techniques used to preserve food in antiquity and now.

Traditional Methods of Preserving food

In the past, the sun and the wind was the natural method of drying foods. Proof shows that the vulture of oriental ad the Middle East nation dried their foods in the hot sun. Furthermore, Romans seed to dry their foods using a special “dispensa” made to dry herbs and vegetables. In 1875, drying and the use of salt and sugars were the main approaches to food preservation. In the year 1854, it was approximated that Maine could provide the country with dried apples. The rightness of fruits creation from 1807 to 1875 increased the export of dried fruits produced in the US.

Afterward, the latest drying procedure and types of machinery increased the outputs for the local and international market. In the meantime, caning and refrigeration emerged and were widely used in fruits, preservations, vegetables, meats, and other foods for human usage. The latest approach of food perseveration declined the needs of the dried foods, which turn out to be costly frailties.


Freezing was the ideal food preservation approach in the cold areas. A cave or cool stream was used to preserve the food. In the US, freezing was renovated early, initially with icehouses and afterward the use of iceboxes. In early 1800, powered refrigerators were introduced and immediately used by many people in their households.

Until the beer was invented using come grains of barley being left in the rain, the microorganism fermented the sugar into alcohol. Fermentation not just may preserve food, built it, and create more nourishing food and was employed to make more edible food from less the preferred ingredients. The microorganism accountable for fermentation might produce vitamins during the fermentation process. This produces an extremely nourish and products from the ingredient.

Fermentation is the natural process of chemical changes in foods, which, as observed by the change, was employed many years ago. Fermented fruit lead to wines safe beverages in regions of unsteady supply of water. Another fomentation s the vinegar that was important for pickling meat, fish, and fruit and vegetable—the Japanese and later on the Germans and other European societies fermented cabbages (Desrosier and James 188).  Also, the Egyptians created a raised sourdough pieces of bread, another outcome of fermentation. In some regions and at the time of the year, individuals preserved foods by freezing them, but many years later, before freezing being famous though artificial process in every part of the globe.

This process is preserving foods such as vinegar and other acids, which might have originated when foods were placed in wines or beers to preserve them because both depict a low PH level. There was a huge increase in food perseveration in the 16 th century as a result of the arrival of new kinds of foods in Europe

The early salting was the dehydration; early culture used this approach to aid in desiccating their foods. Salting was frequent by selecting raw salt from diverse sources. In 1800, it was realized that many cultures preferred the approach of food preservation since they realized that sat gave some red coloring rather than the normal unattractive grey color. As a result, many cultures preferred the use of salt as a food preservative approach.

Modern Methods of Preserving food

Pulsed electric field treatment

Preserving bulk food using pulsed electric fields is a new trend that opens the latest perfections in food industries. This procedure might be applied consistently through the products, and it is relevant for the pasteurization of pumbles at reduced temperature. With a strength of 14-31kVcm, microbial cells are deactivated by electroporation of their membrane devoid of substantial temperature increase and any change of short pulse being employed (Joardder and Masud 73). This method of food preservation depends on the microbial actions of strong electrical impulses. When electrical impulses are applied, the osmotic balances of the microorganism exiting are supplied. If the processing environment is selected precisely, microorganisms are deactivated.  Single pulses ought to determine a reduction in plate count surpassing five orders of magnitudes.


The actions of microorganisms and enzymes are modified when foods are frozen, permitting foods and nutrients to be preserved for quite some time. As a result of refrigeration, microbial and enzyme activities are substantially reduced in temperatures of 5 degrees, which is why refrigeration is an effective way to preserve food. While some cultures prefer using caves to preserve their foods and aristocrats created cool houses, most day foods had access to neither. Refrigeration is thus a perfect contemporary approach and an ideal manner of preserving raw foods.

A lot of custom cooking is preferred using glass jar canning. In Europe, the actions of canning homegrown foods in glass jars keep on being practiced till the 1970s. While in Russia, many cultures still have small gardens where they grow most of their foods depending on canning to preserve their foods. Canning spread widely, and in the year 1800, “peter Durand” introduced a can of iron coated with tins; present can are mainly made of steels, with a thin coat of tins, and, normally, a coating lining. Commercial canning started in the US in the year 1819 and seafood in the year 1820. The procession of cooking took nearly 5 hours in ancient times, but this was drastically reduced in 1860 when “Isaac Solomon” added chloride to the water, which raised the boiling point of water. The introduction of pressure cookers in 1874 was an even much more significant development, allowing much more drastic processing. The commercial caning firms afterward introduced machines that might do many jobs that many people initially did by hand.

In extreme concentrations, sugar and the free moisture in foods prevents the growth of microbial. For this to be effective, much sugar is needed. A comparatively latest approach of preserving foods provided that sugar was customarily a rare commodity and costly ingredients that few would manage for day-to-day food preservation.

The changes to food preservation techniques

Ancient man learned to collect naturally preserved foods and aid nature in preserving processes before agriculture and animal farming. The ancient man stored nuts and seeds to be consumed during the winter period and realized that meat and fish might be persevered by drying in the sun. After the recovery of fire, cooking made foods more appealing and was preservation support, because heating killed some of the microorganism and enzyme that causes decay. Smoking meats and fish as an approach of preserving it emerged from cooking (Rahman 175). After developing agriculture, the ancient periods, or the latest Stone Age period, human beings had a more reliant surplus for perseveration. The Native Americans survived on dried corns and beans that they had stored for winter consumption; the pain Indians cut the buffalo meats into a thin strip and tied it in the sun on a wood frame.

12,000 BC: Sun Drying

During the 12,000 BC, the sun and the wind was the natural method of drying foods. Proof shows that the vulture of oriental ad the Middle East nation dried their foods in the hot sun. Furthermore, Romans seed to dry their foods with the use of special “dispensa” which were made to dry herbs and vegetables in

500 BC: Jam

Jam and jelly was a famous food perseveration approach in 500 BC; the ancient Greeks and Romans realized that submerging food in honey would uphold them. Even though it is hard to compare how the process started, the jam has been employed from the time of the merchant in fruits preservation. It was discovered when traders turned the rotten fruits into something important rather than being a waste. The ripen fruits were

1400 AD: Curing

During 1400 AD, it was realized that storing foods in slat solutions might increase their durability during middle age. Like the Egyptians and the Romans, the earliest cultures employed the salting process as a method of food preservations, but like every other approach, this methodology proved effective in curing and storing meat. A piece of meat would be inserted in a salt solution, “brine.” This trigger a procedure called “osmosis,” which leads to the shift of water contents from the meat into the salt solutions

1784 AD: Refrigeration

Refrigeration is a perfect contemporary approach and an ideal manner of preserving raw foods. The actions of microorganisms and enzymes are modified when foods are frozen, permitting foods and nutrients to be preserved for quite some time. As a result of refrigeration, microbial and enzyme activities are substantially reduced in temperatures of 5 degrees, which is why refrigeration is an effective way to preserve food (Toldra 123). While some cultures prefer using caves to preserve their foods and aristocrats created cool houses, most day foods had access to neither.

1809 AD: Canning

During the period 1809 AD, a lot of custom cooking preferred using the glass jar canning. In Europe, the actions of canning homegrown foods in glass jars keep on being practiced till the 1970s. While in Russia, many cultures still have small gardens where they grow most of their foods depending on canning to preserve their foods.

1871 AD: Pasteurization

The approach of food preservation was introduced by “Louis Pasteur” a French scientist, who realized a connection between a microorganism and the spoil of foods. This approach of food preservation was not used until the start of the 20 th century.

1940 AD: Dehydration

The problem like the constantly changing weather trends and inadequacy of sufficiency food supply mainly lead to the invention of the food dehydration approach. It has its begging in the early 1940s that entailed the drying of food products that might be simply getting dehydrated.

2000+ AD: Chemical Preservative

This approach entailed the use of additive like vinegar to kill bacteria ad microbe that causes decompositions, it as well inhibits enzymes activity, hence guaranteeing prolonged food live—using chemicals as a preservative by pre-historic man, who preserved and Improved the flavors of their meats by smoking (those who lived under the caves) or by submerging in water form early many living near oceans. With improvement as time goes by, some preservatives ad additives like salt and sugar started to date.

Why changes were made to how food used to be preserved

 The presence of health regulatory organizations have played a role

In collaboration with food and agriculture institutions of the united nation, World health organizations are accountable for ascertaining the risk to human health from food additives. Independent examines the risk appraisal of food additives. Global expert group. Only those food preservatives that this body has approved are deemed not risky to human beings we approved for use (William Shurtleff 87). And this is how changes were made to how the food we’re used to be preserved to a modern approach

Business decisions

The new business model leads to change in food preservation methods gradually. For instance, a business entity that has invested in seafood required a food preservation model that would have the food preserved for quite a long time, prompting a shift to the contemporary approach of preserving foods, such as the use of canning method or the use of pickling.

How food preservation can be improved today

Consumer demand for superior food with fresh taste and nutrition has led to a substantial interest in creating the latest food processing methods. Interest in creating the latest food processing methodologies has increased drastically over the last decade, mainly due to demand from users of fresh, quality foods. Consumers are also becoming informed of the risks of food-borne disease and are keen on the safety of their foods supplies improvements in non-thermal approaches have been advanced by academics and industrial in an effort of meeting the challenges of producing safe processed foods of superior quality (Zeuthen and Bøgh-Sørensen 127). Therefore, the firms must improve the production of quality foods through the use of non-thermal processing technology. The safety and microbiological standards of processed foods with this technology nonetheless require to be confirmed using “pulse electric fields.”

Preservatives of any sort have been employed for many years. Smoking and salting are two of the latest approaches used though many other approaches are being used presently. Preservatives might be divided into segments as per their functions ;( a) those that can manage or control microbe growths, and (b) those used to manage deteriorative chemical responses like rancidity. Salts are some of the vital microbes that inhibit used ingrowths. Sodium benzoate is especially an effective preservative against yeasts and bacteria’s in high acid food like sauce and fruits. It is as well known for its use in carbonated drinks

Action to be undertaken to reduce the negative side effects that come from the chemicals used in food preservation

Natural Preservatives

These are an ingredient that is employed to preserve food as it is. The chemical content is not changed, and they are not mixed with any artificial items. These as well in many cases, have anti-oxidants components. It is understood that anti-oxidants delay the process of aging of foods to improve their durability. Naturally, coring preservatives comprise oil, sugar, and salt. Pickle might last for many years due to its potential salt and oil mix that act like a natural preservative to the vegetable chunk. Conclusion: There are many approaches employed to preserve food such as curing, freeing, caning, and fermenting.

Synthetic or Chemical Preservative

This preservative is also employed to postpone the decay and contaminations in food, built this is artificially created or artificial in nature. Frequently, this is also an additive on food labels, so a consumer should always check the bale in the food product for the expiry period before buying it. To guarantee that the perseverative is helping to make food safe, their usage is subject to premarket safety appraisal and approval process (Toldra 49). This institution is accountable for safety appraisals, approval and control, and labeling of preservatives.

Safety appraisal of food preservatives is based on appraisals of every existing toxicological information, comprising observation in human and animal models. From the existing information, n utmost additive level, which depicts no obvious toxic effects, is established. This is termed “no observed adverse effect level” and is employed to establish the “acceptable daily intakes,” which provides a bigger margin of safety and infer to the amount of food additive that might be consumed daily in the diets, over some time devoid of any negative implications on health.

There has exit some public outcry that some food additive dep9octs some adverse effects. Even though keen examinations depict that many are based on fallacy instead of recognizable extreme reaction. Amongst the food additive reported to have an extreme effect are some preservatives from the groups of “soliciting” agencies, which comprise of supplies additive and many inorganics that might trigger asthma traits by peering difficulties ion breathing insensitive coughs. (Rahman 68) The relevant institution has provided a comprehensive labelling process for food additives to permit users to make an informed verdict concerning food containing preservatives. Laws also provide that additives are labeled on the packing materials by sections with either name or electronic umbers. In conclusion, preservatives are presently important in ensuring that the safety and assortment of diverse food varieties are existing. They work by delaying the decaying time of the food and avoiding any alteration in their taste. Their appraisals and usage in food varieties are strictly managed.

Why companies do not opt for these methods

Many firms prefer using chemical preservatives since this approach presently is deemed safe for many consumers. Consuming fat foods contains preservatives that will negatively impact the long-term health implications of people. Nonetheless, many companies still believe that these health effects are connected to chemical preservatives within the advised amount. The reason may firm prefer this approach is that the controlling body considers it as safe, in the amounts that it is permitted in the food products. “Safe” for food additives implies “a reasonable” conviction in the mind of skillful experts that the content is safe under the proposed condition of use (Kelvinator Corporation 73). However, many consumers still have some concerns about many companies using chemicals to preserve their foods.

Works Cited

Anderson, Rory.  Survival 101 Raised Bed Gardening AND Food Storage: The Complete Survival Guide To Growing Your Own Food, Food Storage And Food Preservation in 2020 . 2020.

Badiane, Ousmane, and Christopher L. Delgado.  A 2020 Vision for Food, Agriculture, and the Environment in Sub-Saharan Africa . Intl Food Policy Res Inst, 2002.

Chawengkijwanich, Chamorn, and Phikunthong Kopermsub. “Coating Technology for Food Preservation.”  Progress in Food Preservation , 2012, pp. 111-127.

Desrosier, Norman W., and Desrosier N. James.  The Technology of Food Preservation . Avi Publishing Company, 1977.

Joardder, Mohammad U., and Mahadi H. Masud. “A Brief History of Food Preservation.”  Food Preservation in Developing Countries: Challenges and Solutions , 2019, pp. 57-66.

Kelvinator Corporation.  An Authentic History of Food Preservation Through the Ages: From Cave to Kelvinator . 1934.

Rahman, M. S.  Handbook of Food Preservation . CRC P, 2007.

Toldra, Fidel.  Advances in Food and Nutrition Research . Elsevier, 2021.

William Shurtleff, Akiko Aoyagi.  History of the Natural and Organic Foods Movement (1942-2020): Extensively Annotated Bibliography and Sourcebook . Soyinfo Center, 2020.

Zeuthen, Peter, and Leif Bøgh-Sørensen.  Food Preservation Techniques . Elsevier, 2003

Stuck with your Essay?

Get in touch with one of our experts for instant help!

Initial Male Transgender Athletes, Speech Example

Cell Based Therapies for Asthma, Thesis Paper Example

Time is precious

don’t waste it!

Plagiarism-free guarantee

Privacy guarantee

Secure checkout

Money back guarantee


Related Essay Samples & Examples

Voting as a civic responsibility, essay example.

Pages: 1

Words: 287

Utilitarianism and Its Applications, Essay Example

Words: 356

The Age-Related Changes of the Older Person, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 448

The Problems ESOL Teachers Face, Essay Example

Pages: 8

Words: 2293

Should English Be the Primary Language? Essay Example

Pages: 4

Words: 999

The Term “Social Construction of Reality”, Essay Example

Words: 371

Our Meals, Ourselves: A Short History of Food Writing


In many ways, The Physiology of Taste applied the essence of Enlightenment thought to food, cooking, and eating. It is a massive and thorough discourse written by an author supremely confident in his ability to know himself and all of his faculties, from consumption to cognition, in perfect detail. Brillat-Savarin sought to train mankind’s collective palate and teach everyone the joys of cooking and dining through the science of gastronomy. But that science is strangely limited in scope as well. According to Brillat-Savarin, gourmandism is a science of pleasure-making, training in aesthetic judgment, the gifts of the muse Gasterea—and nothing else.

Even though Brillat-Savarin used the language and structure of Enlightenment thought, he followed the dictum of the Greek philosopher Epictetus : “do not discourse how people ought to eat; but eat as you ought.”


After World War II, as the world grew accustomed to frozen vegetables and Jell-O molds, the vast majority of food writing turned anodyne. Food essays tended to resemble extended essays, a sort of verbal channeling of the Platonic form of a particular dish or technique. It was, and still is, the most common kind of food writing, produced by critics and chefs alike, from James Beard to Nigella Lawson . Entertaining (and appetite-whetting) though these may books might be, all of them are fairly low-risk and low-stakes. Most examples are panegyrics to one dish or ingredient or technique, and the rest are simply culinary relativism, an attempt to show that one thing is better than another. It’s the same ground that Brillat-Savarin had covered a century prior.

But a few writers have always aspired to more. In the 60s and 70s, travel writers showed that the “went there, ate that” travelogue could, in fact, have a point beyond mere description: Paul Theroux , for instance, found that the dismal dining cars in the Orient Express mirrored the famous route’s general decline. British food columnist Jane Grigson , meanwhile, wrote miniature biographies of vegetables in an attempt to sketch the outlines of what are now, a bit awkwardly, called “foodways”; her London Times counterpart, Michael Bateman , agitated for better school lunches and exposed food industry malpractices before launching the Campaign for Real Bread, which championed local bakers over the “technological bread” of industrial plants.


Of course, food matters to most of us far more than water management, wildlife preservation, or even global warming: whether it’s three squares a day or the “ efficient, joyless eating ” of Dr. Oz , we are forced to see, smell, taste, and think about food every single day.

And that’s why the best food writing has a unique capacity to tell us something about our social norms and attitudes and even, at a stretch, that nebulous idea called the human condition. Sometimes it’s good: the chefs/civic boosters/cultural ambassadors that Anthony Bourdain manages to find around the world, from Caracas to Dubai; Tony Judt ’s observation that European multiculturalism extended to his own dining table , too.

But food can also lead us to abandon reason in favor of pure hedonism. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Greenberg’s Four Fish , which manages to find culprits everywhere. There’s the tuna fisherman who says, “I love these fish…but I love to catch them. God, I love to catch them. And I know you need some kind of catch limits because I’d catch all of them if I could.” Or the trochus diver on Cook Island who, when caught harvesting out-of-season, began to cry and asked, “Why? Why did you close the season? There are still some left!” And then there’s us, the fish-eating public, for whom a decade of pressure to pay attention to which fish we eat has amounted to exactly nothing, despite the best efforts of environmentalists, journalists, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The moral of the story is the same whether you’re talking about fast food, factory farming, big agribusiness…

Maybe this is why serious food writing has remained blissfully free of moral overtones for much of its existence. As much as we would like to think that we are all Aristotelians (in other words, that we do the right thing without being commanded), when it comes to food, we’ve shown ourselves to be equal parts insatiable and irrational; we’d really rather not think about anything that would threaten that visceral link between food and pleasure. (If anyone needs any further proof—last week, overwhelming consumer feedback forced Frito-Lay to replace its biodegradable Sun Chips bag with a non-biodegradable one simply because it was “too noisy.” Suddenly, we find ourselves fighting a rearguard action: as Michael Pollan shows, we’re cooking much less, we’re eating much worse, and we’re curiously ambivalent the whole thing .

So even though food writing has come a long way from Brillat-Savarin’s little epigrams (“dessert without cheese is like a pretty woman without one eye”), his most memorable claim—“tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are”—is still true. We might like to think about food only in terms of how much pleasure it gives us, whether it’s the collective experience of a good meal or the personal satisfaction of a well-executed dish. But increasingly, food writing prompts us to look beyond the tips of our tongues, and to realize that food can bring out both the best and the worst in all of us.

( Image: Inspecting Tuna, Tokyo Fish Market, 1960s , from jaybergesen’s photostream )

Darryl Campbell lives in Seattle, edits The Bygone Bureau , tweets as @djcampb , and will appear as a contestant on Jeopardy! on June 27, 2013.

history of food essay

Most Anticipated: The Great Spring 2024 Preview

history of food essay

Two Shakespeareans Take Stock

history of food essay

Rise of the Ghost Machines

history of food essay

Gabriel Smith Writes Like He Has Nothing Left to Lose

history of food essay

Adelle Waldman on Her ‘Nickel and Dimed’–Inspired Novel

history of food essay

Night at the Freud Museum

history of food essay

Yael van der Wouden Wants to Touch Everything

history of food essay

Tajja Isen Is Wary of the ‘Personal Essay Economy’

history of food essay

Want to Write Better Fiction? Become a Translator


History of Food Culture

As this cookbook is preserved and turned to an e-book, it shows that food as an inter-disciplinary history is a topic that is valued by an increasing number of historians. In Writing Food History, Amy Bentley said that it is not easy to read more about food history in classes, hence, an increasing interest in this field of study has caused more books to be written about food history through time and place. The book not only discusses about food history in America, but also in other regions of the world. This essay will be covering the food history in America.

This can be seen from the numerous documentaries about the effects, consequences and observances of fast food and the young. The food culture in America has evolved so much in a short period of time. The change that occurs through time is caused by social factors, economic factors, cultural factors and a few other factors. This essay will attempt to identify the food habits in the 1 9th century and compare it with current times presently. Food habits do not include only the consumption of food but also the production of food (Bentley, 2012).

One of the factors that caused this change of home- cooked meals to take-outs is attributed to the standard of living of Americans. As observed from this cookbook, home-cooked meals make up the bulk of it In the 1 9th century this can be attributed to the fact that most women then are homemakers. The standard of living then was not as high as it is now; this applies to most countries and is not exclusive to America only, as such, by having a sole breadwinner was enough to sustain the family day to day living.

To export a reference to this essay please select a referencing style below:

Related essays:

Leave a comment cancel reply.

Food Essay for Students and Children

500+ words essay on food.

Food is the basic human need to stay alive. Moreover, it is the need of every living organism . Therefore it is important that we should not waste food. Our world consists of different types of cultures. These cultures have varieties of dishes of food in them.

Food essay

Thus, all the dishes have different taste. Furthermore, our nature provides us a variety of food. From fruits to vegetables, from Dairy food to seafood everything is available. Different countries have their own specialty of dishes. Therefore some of them are below:

World-famous Cuisines

Italian Cuisines – Italian cuisines is one of the most popular cuisines around the world. Moreover, it is widely available in our India too. Dishes like pizza, pasta, and lasagna own a special place in the hearts’ of people.

Furthermore, restaurants like Dominos and Pizza hut are available all over the country. People of every age love the taste of these Italian dishes. Also, Italian dishes are famous for their’ cheese filling. Every dish is load with cheese. Which enhances the taste of these Italian dishes.

Indian cuisine – Indian cuisine is always filled with a lot of herbs and spices. Furthermore, the specialty of Indian dishes is, it is always filled with curries. Whether veg or non-veg the dishes are in curry form. Moreover, Indian cuisine has so many varieties of food that has further branches. The Branch consists of Mughal cuisine which is mostly of non-vegetarian dishes. Also, almost every Indian love Muglia dishes.

Chinese Cuisine – Chinese cuisine in India is also very popular. There are many Chinese theme-based restaurants here. Moreover, in these restaurants Chinese are preferable chefs because they can only give the perfect Chinese blend. Chinese cuisines have a wide variety of dishes. Some of them are Chinese noodles, fried rice, Dumplings, etc. Dumplings have a different name here. They go by the name of momos in India and people love the taste of it.

These were some of the favorites of Indian people. Moreover, these are in almost every part of the city. You can find it anywhere, whether be it in 5-star restaurants or at the side of the street as street foods.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

Importance of Food in Our Life

We cannot deny the importance of food in our lives. As it is the basic need to survive. Yet some people waste not thinking that there are still some people that do not get any of it. We should always be careful while taking a meal on our plates.

In other words, we should take only that much that our stomach can allow. Or else there will be wasting of food . In India there are many people living in slums, they do not have proper shelter. Moreover, they are not able to have even a one-time meal. They starve for days and are always in a state of sickness.

Many children are there on roads who are laboring to get a daily meal. After seeing conditions like these people should not dare to waste food. Moreover, we should always provide food to the needy ones as much as we can.

Q1. Name any two different types of cuisines available in India.

A1. The two different types of cuisines available in India are Italian and Chinese cuisine. These are famous apart from Indian cuisine.

Q2. How can we not waste food?

A2. You cannot waste food by taking only a sufficient amount of it. Moreover, people should seal pack the leftover food and give it to the beggars. So that they can at least stay healthy and not starve.

Customize your course in 30 seconds

Which class are you in.


  • Travelling Essay
  • Picnic Essay
  • Our Country Essay
  • My Parents Essay
  • Essay on Favourite Personality
  • Essay on Memorable Day of My Life
  • Essay on Knowledge is Power
  • Essay on Gurpurab
  • Essay on My Favourite Season
  • Essay on Types of Sports

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Download the App

Google Play

  • Short Videos
  • Web Stories
  • Crushed by careers
  • Diabetes Dilemma
  • Diet & Fitness
  • Health Diseases
  • Miscellaneous

World Food Safety Day 2024: Check Theme, History And Its Significance

Sambhav Kumar

  • Written by : Sambhav Kumar
  • Updated at: Jun 06, 2024 16:46 IST

World Food Safety Day 2024: Check Theme, History And Its Significance

Theme for World Food Safety Day 2024

The theme for World Food Safety Day 2024 is “Safe Food Now for a Healthy Tomorrow.” This theme emphasises the critical role that safe food plays in ensuring a healthy future for individuals and communities. It underscores the need for sustainable food production systems that can prevent foodborne illnesses and contribute to long-term health and well-being.

history of food essay

History of World Food Safety Day

Key milestones in the history of world food safety day.

  • 2018: The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to proclaim June 7 as World Food Safety Day.
  • 2019: The first World Food Safety Day was celebrated with the theme “Food Safety, Everyone’s Business.”
  • 2020: The theme focused on “Food Safety in the Time of COVID-19,” highlighting the pandemic's impact on food safety and the need for resilient food systems.
  • 2021-2023: Themes continued to emphasise collaboration and the need for innovative solutions to ensure food safety.

history of food essay

Significance of World Food Safety Day

  • Raising Awareness: It brings attention to the importance of food safety and the potential health hazards posed by contaminated food. By raising awareness, it encourages people to take preventive measures to ensure their food is safe to eat.
  • Promoting Global Action: The day promotes international efforts to improve food safety systems. It encourages governments, organisations, and individuals to collaborate and implement strategies that reduce foodborne risks.
  • Encouraging Best Practices: World Food Safety Day highlights the importance of adopting best practices in food production, storage, and handling. This includes everything from farm to table, ensuring that food remains safe throughout the supply chain.
  • Supporting Sustainable Development: Safe food is crucial for achieving many of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly those related to health (SDG 3), hunger (SDG 2), and economic growth (SDG 8). Ensuring food safety contributes to better nutrition, reduces foodborne illnesses, and supports economic development.
  • Empowering Consumers: The observance empowers consumers with knowledge about food safety practices, helping them make informed choices about what they eat and how they handle food at home.

How to Participate in World Food Safety Day

  • Educate Yourself and Others: Learn about food safety practices and share this knowledge with family, friends, and your community.
  • Promote Hygiene: Ensure that you follow proper hygiene practices when handling and preparing food. Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces regularly.
  • Support Safe Food Practices: Choose to buy food from reliable sources that follow safety standards and advocate for better food safety policies in your area.
  • Attend Events and Webinars: Participate in events, workshops, and webinars organised by food safety authorities and organisations to stay informed about the latest developments and best practices in food safety.
  • Share on Social Media: Use social media platforms to spread awareness about World Food Safety Day and the importance of food safety using the official hashtag #WorldFoodSafetyDay.

Inflammation And Cholesterol: Expert Explains The Link Between The Two And Tips For Management

All possible measures have been taken to ensure accuracy, reliability, timeliness and authenticity of the information; however does not take any liability for the same. Using any information provided by the website is solely at the viewers’ discretion. In case of any medical exigencies/ persistent health issues, we advise you to seek a qualified medical practitioner before putting to use any advice/tips given by our team or any third party in form of answers/comments on the above mentioned website.

  • # food safety day
  • # food safety day 2024
  • # world food safety day
  • # world food safety day 2024
  • # food and safety
  • # world food safety day theme
  • # what is food safety
  • # food safety
  • # what is the
  • # best way to prevent poor food safety

Find anything you save across the site in your account

Personal History

Essays and memoirs.

Looking at Art with Peter Schjeldahl

Looking at Art with Peter Schjeldahl

By Steve Martin

How to Eat a Rattlesnake

By John Paul Brammer

Catching the Fire Bug

Catching the Fire Bug

By M. R. O’Connor

His Latex Goddess

His Latex Goddess

By Anna Holmes

Missing My Dad’s Funeral

Missing My Dad’s Funeral

By Emily Ziff Griffin

A Question of Legacy

A Question of Legacy

By David Owen

The Power of Food for People with Dementia

The Power of Food for People with Dementia

By Peggy Orenstein

My Life in the Aftermath of Martin Luther King’s Assassination

My Life in the Aftermath of Martin Luther King’s Assassination

By Clarence B. Jones and Stuart Connelly

Growing Up in the House of Freud

Growing Up in the House of Freud

By Gillian Silverman

Giving Away My Twin

Giving Away My Twin

By Jean Garnett

What’s the Israel-Palestine conflict about? A simple guide

It’s killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions. And its future lies in its past. We break it down.

Nakba 1948 people fleeing

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced many millions of people and has its roots in a colonial act carried out more than a century ago.

With Israel declaring war on the Gaza Strip after an unprecedented attack by the armed Palestinian group Hamas on Saturday, the world’s eyes are again sharply focused on what might come next.

Keep reading

From hubris to humiliation: the 10 hours that shocked israel from hubris to humiliation: the 10 hours ..., fears of a ground invasion of gaza grow as israel vows ‘mighty vengeance’ fears of a ground invasion of gaza grow ..., ‘my voice is our lifeline’: gaza journalist and family amid israel bombing ‘my voice is our lifeline’: gaza ....

Hamas fighters have killed more than 800 Israelis in assaults on multiple towns in southern Israel. In response, Israel has launched a bombing campaign in the Gaza Strip, killing more than 500 Palestinians. It has mobilised troops along the Gaza border, apparently in preparation for a ground attack. And on Monday, it announced a “total blockade” of the Gaza Strip, stopping the supply of food, fuel and other essential commodities to the already besieged enclave in an act that under international law amounts to a war crime.

But what unfolds in the coming days and weeks has its seed in history.

For decades, Western media outlets, academics, military experts and world leaders have described the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as intractable, complicated and deadlocked.

Here’s a simple guide to break down one of the world’s longest-running conflicts:

What was the Balfour Declaration?

  • More than 100 years ago, on November 2, 1917, Britain’s then-foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, wrote a letter addressed to Lionel Walter Rothschild, a figurehead of the British Jewish community.
  • The letter was short – just 67 words – but its contents had a seismic effect on Palestine that is still felt to this day.
  • It committed the British government to “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” and to facilitating “the achievement of this object”. The letter is known as the Balfour Declaration .
  • In essence, a European power promised the Zionist movement a country where Palestinian Arab natives made up more than 90 percent of the population.
  • A British Mandate was created in 1923 and lasted until 1948. During that period, the British facilitated mass Jewish immigration – many of the new residents were fleeing Nazism in Europe – and they also faced protests and strikes. Palestinians were alarmed by their country’s changing demographics and British confiscation of their lands to be handed over to Jewish settlers.

What happened during the 1930s?

  • Escalating tensions eventually led to the Arab Revolt, which lasted from 1936 to 1939.
  • In April 1936, the newly formed Arab National Committee called on Palestinians to launch a general strike, withhold tax payments and boycott Jewish products to protest British colonialism and growing Jewish immigration.
  • The six-month strike was brutally repressed by the British, who launched a mass arrest campaign and carried out punitive home demolitions , a practice that Israel continues to implement against Palestinians today.
  • The second phase of the revolt began in late 1937 and was led by the Palestinian peasant   resistance movement, which targeted British forces and colonialism.
  • By the second half of 1939, Britain had massed 30,000 troops in Palestine. Villages were bombed by air, curfews imposed, homes demolished, and administrative detentions and summary killings were widespread.
  • In tandem, the British collaborated with the Jewish settler community and formed armed groups and a British-led “counterinsurgency force” of Jewish fighters named the Special Night Squads.
  • Within the Yishuv, the pre-state settler community, arms were secretly imported and weapons factories established to expand the Haganah, the Jewish paramilitary that later became the core of the Israeli army.
  • In those three years of revolt, 5,000 Palestinians were killed, 15,000 to 20,000 were wounded and 5,600 were imprisoned.


What was the UN partition plan?

  • By 1947, the Jewish population had ballooned to 33 percent of Palestine, but they owned only 6 percent of the land.
  • The United Nations adopted Resolution 181, which called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states.
  • The Palestinians rejected the plan because it allotted about 55 percent of Palestine to the Jewish state, including most of the fertile coastal region.
  • At the time, the Palestinians owned 94 percent of historic Palestine and comprised 67 percent of its population.


The 1948 Nakba, or the ethnic cleansing of Palestine

  • Even before the British Mandate expired on May 14, 1948, Zionist paramilitaries were already embarking on a military operation to destroy Palestinian towns and villages to expand the borders of the Zionist state that was to be born.
  • In April 1948, more than 100 Palestinian men, women and children were killed in the village of Deir Yassin on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
  • That set the tone for the rest of the operation, and from 1947 to 1949, more than 500 Palestinian villages, towns and cities were destroyed in what Palestinians refer to as the Nakba , or “catastrophe” in Arabic.
  • An estimated 15,000 Palestinians were killed, including in dozens of massacres.
  • The Zionist movement captured 78 percent of historic Palestine. The remaining 22 percent was divided into what are now the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.
  • An estimated 750,000 Palestinians were forced out of their homes.
  • Today their descendants live as six million refugees in 58 squalid camps throughout Palestine and in the neighbouring countries of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt.
  • On May 15, 1948, Israel announced its establishment.
  • The following day, the first Arab-Israeli war began and fighting ended in January 1949 after an armistice between Israel and Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.
  • In December 1948, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 194, which calls for the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

INTERACTIVE - NAKBA - What is the Nakba infographic map-1684081612

The years after the Nakba

  • At least 150,000 Palestinians remained in the newly created state of Israel and lived under a tightly controlled military occupation for almost 20 years before they were eventually granted Israeli citizenship.
  • Egypt took over the Gaza Strip, and in 1950, Jordan began its administrative rule over the West Bank.
  • In 1964, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) was formed, and a year later, the Fatah political party was established.

The Naksa, or the Six-Day War and the settlements

  • On June 5, 1967, Israel occupied the rest of historic Palestine, including the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Syrian Golan Heights and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula during the Six-Day War against a coalition of Arab armies.
  • For some Palestinians, this led to a second forced displacement, or Naksa, which means “setback” in Arabic.
  • In December 1967, the Marxist-Leninist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was formed. Over the next decade, a series of attacks and plane hijackings by leftist groups drew the world’s attention to the plight of the Palestinians.
  • Settlement construction began in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. A two-tier system was created with Jewish settlers afforded all the rights and privileges of being Israeli citizens whereas Palestinians had to live under a military occupation that discriminated against them and barred any form of political or civic expression.

INTERACTIVE What are Israeli settlements

The first Intifada 1987-1993

  • The first Palestinian Intifada erupted in the Gaza Strip in December 1987 after four Palestinians were killed when an Israeli truck collided with two vans carrying Palestinian workers.
  • Protests spread rapidly to the West Bank with young Palestinians throwing stones at Israeli army tanks and soldiers.
  • It also led to the establishment of the Hamas movement, an off-shoot of the Muslim Brotherhood that engaged in armed resistance against the Israeli occupation.
  • The Israeli army’s heavy-handed response was encapsulated by the “Break their Bones” policy advocated by then-Defence Minister Yitzhak Rabin. It included summary killings, closures of universities, deportations of activists and destruction of homes.
  • The Intifada was primarily carried out by young people and was directed by the Unified National Leadership of the Uprising, a coalition of Palestinian political factions committed to ending the Israeli occupation and establishing Palestinian independence.
  • In 1988, the Arab League recognised the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people.
  • The Intifada was characterised by popular mobilisations, mass protests, civil disobedience, well-organised strikes and communal cooperatives.
  • According to the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, 1,070 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during the Intifada, including 237 children. More than 175,000 Palestinians were arrested.
  • The Intifada also prompted the international community to search for a solution to the conflict.

The Oslo years and the Palestinian Authority

  • The Intifada ended with the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 and the formation of the Palestinian Authority (PA), an interim government that was granted limited self-rule in pockets of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
  • The PLO recognised Israel on the basis of a two-state solution and effectively signed agreements that gave Israel control of 60 percent of the West Bank, and much of the territory’s land and water resources.
  • The PA was supposed to make way for the first elected Palestinian government running an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with its capital in East Jerusalem, but that has never happened.
  • Critics of the PA view it as a corrupt subcontractor to the Israeli occupation that collaborates closely with the Israeli military in clamping down on dissent and political activism against Israel.
  • In 1995, Israel built an electronic fence and concrete wall around the Gaza Strip, snapping interactions between the split Palestinian territories.

INTERACTIVE Occupied West Bank Palestine Areas A B C-1694588444

The second Intifada

  • The second Intifada began on September 28, 2000, when Likud opposition leader Ariel Sharon made a provocative visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound with thousands of security forces deployed in and around the Old City of Jerusalem.
  • Clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces killed five Palestinians and injured 200 over two days.
  • The incident sparked a widespread armed uprising. During the Intifada, Israel caused unprecedented damage to the Palestinian economy and infrastructure.
  • Israel reoccupied areas governed by the Palestinian Authority and began construction of a separation wall that along with rampant settlement construction, destroyed Palestinian livelihoods and communities.
  • Settlements are illegal under international law, but over the years, hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers have moved to colonies built on stolen Palestinian land. The space for Palestinians is shrinking as settler-only roads and infrastructure slice up the occupied West Bank, forcing Palestinian cities and towns into bantustans, the isolated enclaves for Black South Africans that the country’s former apartheid regime created.
  • At the time the Oslo Accords were signed, just over 110,000 Jewish settlers lived in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Today, the figure is more than 700,000 living on more than 100,000 hectares (390sq miles) of land expropriated from the Palestinians.

INTERACTIVE Al Aqsa-mosque-compound Jerusalem

The Palestinian division and the Gaza blockade

  • PLO leader Yasser Arafat died in 2004, and a year later, the second Intifada ended, Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip were dismantled, and Israeli soldiers and 9,000 settlers left the enclave.
  • A year later, Palestinians voted in a general election for the first time.
  • Hamas won a majority. However, a Fatah-Hamas civil war broke out, lasting for months, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians.
  • Hamas expelled Fatah from the Gaza Strip, and Fatah – the main party of the Palestinian Authority – resumed control of parts of the West Bank.
  • In June 2007, Israel imposed a land, air and naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, accusing Hamas of “terrorism”.


The wars on the Gaza Strip

  • Israel has launched four protracted military assaults on Gaza: in 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2021. Thousands of Palestinians have been killed, including many children , and tens of thousands of homes, schools and office buildings have been destroyed.
  • Rebuilding has been next to impossible because the siege prevents construction materials, such as steel and cement, from reaching Gaza.
  • The 2008 assault involved the use of internationally banned weaponry, such as phosphorus gas.
  • In 2014, over a span of 50 days, Israel killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, including 1,462 civilians and close to 500 children.
  • During the  assault , called Operation Protective Edge by the Israelis, about 11,000 Palestinians were wounded, 20,000 homes were destroyed and half a million people displaced .

INTERACTIVE Gaza 15 years of living under blockade-OCT9-2023


  1. The Purpose and History of Food Additives for Taste and Appearance

    history of food essay

  2. The First Million Years of Cooking Poster

    history of food essay

  3. Food Essay

    history of food essay

  4. A History of Food in Literature

    history of food essay

  5. Food History Final essay

    history of food essay

  6. The History Of Food

    history of food essay


  1. History of Everything: The Fun and Weird History of Food

  2. Food (1979)

  3. Great Weird Holiday Food Gadget Gift Ideas

  4. Every Style Of Burrito We Could Find Across The United States

  5. The Greasy History Of Denny's

  6. Food Secrets of Past Presidents #history #president #shorts


  1. Food history

    Food history is an interdisciplinary field that examines the history and the cultural, economic, environmental, and sociological impacts of food and human nutrition.It is considered distinct from the more traditional field of culinary history, which focuses on the origin and recreation of specific recipes.. The first journal in the field, Petits Propos Culinaires, was launched in 1979 and the ...

  2. Food History: A Complete Guide Through Time

    People cultivated wheat, barley, peas, lentils, and other crops around 10,000 BCE. They also domesticated sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle. Around the same time, agriculture also emerged in other parts of the world independently. In China people grew rice, millet, soybeans, and other crops around 9,000 BCE.

  3. Review essay: Food and history

    Abstract. This essay deals with three ambitious recent contributions to food history, and with more specialized work. It focuses on the growing range of sources used in this history; the ...

  4. Food Timeline: food history research service

    Food Allergies /ADAM. WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT. Lynne Olver created the Food Timeline in 1999 (see the " " below). In 2020, Virginia Tech University Libraries and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences (CLAHS) collaborated on a plan to offer Virginia Tech as a new home for the physical book collection and the web resource.

  5. Food History

    Food History / October 19, 2023. Food history explores how people have grown, cooked, and eaten food. It can help us learn about different cultures and their traditions. Moreover, it can help us understand how food has influenced health and nutrition. Food history shows food is more than just something we eat to survive.

  6. By John C. Super West Virginia University

    REVIEW ESSAY: FOOD AND HISTORY By John C. Super West Virginia University Historians of food usually find it necessary to explain the significance of their subject. Lest the uninitiated think that food is simply planted, harvested, pro-cessed, transported, sold, and consumed, readers are alerted to the many and

  7. The Embodied Imagination in Recent Writings on Food History

    food history's contributions to recent scholarship, is reconnecting the mind and body, thereby bringing the mental, discursive worlds of cultural history together with a ma-terial, embodied understanding of the past. During the 1960s and 1970s, food had a central role in the scholarly revival of the. Cartesian mind/body dualism, particularly ...

  8. Introduction

    The history of food, long derided as an amateur's avocation, has finally won professional respectability based on a generation of high-quality scholarship. The defensive justifications for studying food often given by the field's pioneers, many of whom labored in obscurity at provincial colleges and universities, has given way to a new self-confidence and recognition. 1 Food matters, not ...

  9. A Cultural History of Food (in Antiquity, in the Medieval Age, in the

    A Cultural History of Food presents an authoritative survey from ancient times to the present. This set of six volumes covers nearly 3,000 years of food and its physical, spiritual, social and cultural dimensions. 1. A Cultural History of Food in Antiquity (800 BCE - 500 CE) 2. A Cultural History of Food in the Medieval Age (500 - 1300) 3.

  10. The Oxford Handbook of Food History

    Pilcher divides the 27 essays into five parts; these units include food histories, food studies, means of production, the circulation of food, and communities of consumption. The handbook captures the five main themes of research in food studies via essays arranged 'along thematic and comparative lines in the hopes that national concerns will ...

  11. Cultural Histories of Food

    Because of its essential role in human life, food has been a part of historical narratives since antiquity. As the proper subject of professional inquiry, however, food gained recognition only in the 1990s with the advent of the so-called new cultural history. Whereas the disciplinary hegemony of culture has begun to fragment and decline, the ...

  12. [PDF] Food and History

    This essay deals with three ambitious recent contributions to food history, and with more specialized work. It focuses on the growing range of sources used in this history; the increasing attention to processes of diffusion and to cultural reactions to "other" foods; and the examination of cuisine and manners as part of food history. Findings about nutrition, issues of periodization and the ...

  13. Six Brilliant Student Essays on the Power of Food to Spark Social

    From the hundreds of essays written, these six—on anti-Semitism, cultural identity, death row prisoners, coming out as transgender, climate change, and addiction—were chosen as essay winners. Be sure to read the literary gems and catchy titles that caught our eye. ... Our food is an expression of our history, commemorating both our ...

  14. The Role of Food in American Society

    collection of essays, these decisions have shaped American society, culture and the environment in significant ways. Inspired by readings in food history, this collection of essays was produced in Spring 2010 by a group of students from the University of Kansas. Our collective work has come to focus on food's role as an agent of social change ...

  15. History of Food

    History of Food. WILD FOOD. HISTORY. About 8000 BC gathering was the main basis of food. Round 10,000 BC, in the New Stone Age, people started farming, and then spent a smaller amount of period gathering. Present they cultivated grain as a replacement for gathering it. People also started to grow figs and lentils and parsnips and peas.

  16. Essay on Food

    Speech on Food; 250 Words Essay on Food The Cultural Significance of Food. Food is an integral part of human life, serving not just as a source of sustenance but also as a cultural artifact. It reflects our history, traditions, and identity. A single dish can narrate stories of migration, colonization, trade, and adaptation. The Science of Food

  17. The Joy of Food

    The sharing of food has always been part of the human story. From Qesem Cave near Tel Aviv comes evidence of ancient meals prepared at a 300,000-year-old hearth, the oldest ever found, where ...

  18. Global Food History

    Global Food History publishes on food and drink from a historical perspective, as well as the relationship between food history and food studies. Browse; Search. Close search. ... These should be essays of 8,000 to 10,000 words, which use primary source research to make new arguments, engage with scholarship in the field, and which deal with ...

  19. History of Food Preservation, Essay Example

    1871 AD: Pasteurization. The approach of food preservation was introduced by "Louis Pasteur" a French scientist, who realized a connection between a microorganism and the spoil of foods. This approach of food preservation was not used until the start of the 20 th century. 1940 AD: Dehydration.

  20. Our Meals, Ourselves: A Short History of Food Writing

    Food essays tended to resemble extended essays, a sort of verbal channeling of the Platonic form of a particular dish or technique. It was, and still is, the most common kind of food writing, produced by critics and chefs alike, from James Beard to Nigella Lawson. Entertaining (and appetite-whetting) though these may books might be, all of them ...

  21. History of Food Culture

    The food culture in America has evolved so much in a short period of time. The change that occurs through time is caused by social factors, economic factors, cultural factors and a few other factors. This essay will attempt to identify the food habits in the 1 9th century and compare it with current times presently.

  22. Food Essay for Students and Children

    A2. You cannot waste food by taking only a sufficient amount of it. Moreover, people should seal pack the leftover food and give it to the beggars. So that they can at least stay healthy and not starve. Share with friends. Previous. Next. Kalpana Chawla Essay for Students and Children.

  23. World Food Safety Day 2024: Check Theme, History And Its Significance

    2019: The first World Food Safety Day was celebrated with the theme "Food Safety, Everyone's Business.". 2020: The theme focused on "Food Safety in the Time of COVID-19," highlighting ...

  24. Personal History

    Missing My Dad's Funeral. At thirteen, I went to sleepaway camp, consumed by crushes, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and my father's worsening battle with AIDS. By Emily Ziff Griffin. February 21 ...

  25. What We're Reading

    What We're Reading. There's so much more to discover! Browse through lists, essays, author interviews, and articles. Find something for every reader. ReadDown.

  26. What's the Israel-Palestine conflict about? A simple guide

    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced many millions of people and has its roots in a colonial act carried out more than a century ago.