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(The) Penguin Atlas of Food: Who Eats What, Where and Why


by Eric Millstone

by Jennifer A. Wickes
other reviews by Jennifer A. Wickes

As industrialization and technology take over our lives, we become more sedentary. Through the riches of our country, we can afford more meat, dairy products and processed foods; thus, contributing to our poor health, "over-nutrition", otherwise known as the Western Diet.

Erik Millstone works at the University of Sussex in Science Policy. He has been working on food-related issues for almost 30 years. Tim Lang is a professor of food policy at City University in London. He is, also, a consultant to the World Health Organization. With the aid of Axel Drescher, a professor of Applied Geography at Freiburg University, they have formulated this educational book about "who eats what, where and why".

While rich industrialized countries thrive in excess and develop diseases from over-consumption (such as, diabetes), these countries are also feeding a bulk of our grain to feed livestock, when over 40 million people a year die of starvation.

This book is filled w ith statistics, bar graphs, charts and miscellaneous graphics that help aid in our understanding of food's role in modern life. The book is divided into five parts: Contemporary Challenges (feeding the population, environmental challenges, disease, nutrition and more); Farming (mechanization, genetic modification, pesticides, sustainable farming and more); Trade (animal transport, fair trade, tariffs and more); Processing, Retailing and Consumption (staple foods, Organic food, fast food, alcohol and more); and World Tables (agriculture and comsumption).

This is not a cookbook, nor a glamorous journey through each country's cuisine, however.

Upon studying this book, I ponder the ideas of vegetarianism for a healthier way of life, and as an objection towards the feeding of livestock in lieu of providing grain for starving nations. I, also, think of how we have looked for ways on simplifying our lives with remote controls, garage door openers, email, kitchen appliances , washers and dryers, and how ultimately, we have complicated it more. This reminds me of a movie I once saw: The Gods Must Be Crazy. Although this movie takes on a more comedic approach of two wildly different cultures in South Africa, still it does demonstrate what both cultures have gained and lost due to industrialization.

Information found in this book can help educate the reader on how the food on their plate came to be and at what cost to society. For anyone that eats, and that is everyone, we should all read this book and become more educated on how we are contributing, both positively and negatively, to our society.

Jennifer A. Wickes
Food Writer, Recipe Developer, Cookbook Revie


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