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An Edible History of Humanity

Chapter 1
• Modern Maize and cereals evolved from ancient plants with
very different characteristics by proto-farmers planting seeds
from plants with desirable traits.
• Such mutations made them more practical as foodstuffs but
unable to survive in the wild.

Chapter 2
• Proto-farmers actually worked much harder than hunter-
gatherers got provide enough food, and many even suffered
from malnutrition.
• The average height also fell in farming communities.
• However, to the proto-farmers, the slow shift from hunting
and gathering to agriculture seemed logical.
○ Hunter-gatherers had been planting small crops in
certain frequented areas to ensure sufficient supply.
○ As groups became more sedentary, the full transition
to farming seemed logical after success with basic
ecosystem manipulation.
○ Sedentism also caused a population growth, which
may have made agriculture more attractive, though this
theory has holes.

Chapter 3
• As more food than necessary became available, and certain
“Big Men” used food influentially until socially stratified cities
emerged, leading to civilizations.

Chapter 4
• Before food was as plentiful as it is today, it was used as
unofficial currency.
• Rulers taxed food production to sustain the army and other
of the elite’s activities.
• Foods, along with humans in some cultures, were often
sacrificed to the gods, with the belief that it nourished them.
Some leaders were also thought to have power over a
harvest.

Chapters 5 and 6
• Spices
○ Spices initially commanded such high prices because
of the mystery surrounding them, as well as their
strong flavors and strong, pleasant scents.
○ Spices may have been a large cause of the spread ot
the Plague.
○ Battles were fought over control of the spice trade,
especially by the Portuguese, but in the end, as people
grew tired of over spiced food, and the mystery
surrounding the spice’s origins were discovered, spices
greatly decreased in value.
○ However, the spice trade influenced explorers to go out
in search of new trade routes to cut out Muslim
middlemen, discovering new routes to Asia and even
the discovery of the Americas.

Chapter 7
• Soon after landing in modern-day Cuba, he expected large
Arabic cities.
• He found none, but found a food the Indians called Maize.
• Maize proved to be tasty and well suited to Mediterranean
soil, even soil other traditional plants weren’t.
• Columbus’ attempts in shipping sugar proved successful as
well, and sugar in turn proved an excellent sweetener for
new drinks like tea, cocoa, and coffee.
• Attempts to restrict trade in New England were one of many
reasons the Declaration of Independence was signed.
• While Maize thrived among Mediterranean countries,
potatoes were met with prejudice do to its ugly appearance,
but eventually became a staple of Ireland, who used the
calories to provide wheat for England.
• New crops increased output pin the same area of land,
allowing England to have plenty of food and land and export
enough to begin industrialization.

Chapter 8
• Coal further increased production in Britain, allowing it to
collect large enough profits in industrial goods to import food,
freeing up land.
• The Potato Famine
○ A widespread failure of the potato crop for multiple
years caused starvation in Ireland unlike anything ever
seen.
○ Finally England repealed laws constraining imports to
Ireland finally replenished food lost in the famine.

Chapter 9
• Efficiently gathering food from the land proved to be an
effective way to move quickly for Alexander the Great, a
strategy that greatly contributed to Napoleon’s great
success, and his mistake in food that caused his downfall.
• However, gathering was rendered less useful when canned
food and steam locomotive systems.

Chapter 10
• When Germany was split, the U.S. and Britain flew food into
Soviet Germany until the conflict ended.
• Both Stalin of the U.S.S.R. and Mao of China attempted the
collectivization of crops from farmers to prove the
advantages of Communism.
• Their efforts failed, made worse by their ignorance in taking
grain from farmers as if it was working.

Chapter 11
• The discovery of how to create Ammonia caused the
creation of much more effective fertilizers, in turn causing a
large population boom.
• However, to fully take advantage of fertilizers, crossbred
“dwarf” breeds of crops were grown to support the weight of
enlarged seeds from Maize and cereals, increasing
production even more.

Chapter 12
• The industrialization of the western world has, for the first
time, caused Asia to lose its spot as the wealthiest area of
the world.
• However, recent trends show Asia returning to its place of
power.
• Modern conveniences and increased industrialization has
reduced the appeal of numerous children, sure to cause the
world population to peak relatively soon.
• The Green Revolution and industrialization have allowed
humanity to progress at a much greater rate, but has caused
environmental problems that need to be the focus of our next
step forward.