This talk of food makes me wonder, as I have for the past few years, how is it that we end up eating the foods we do? Not how do they get on our tables, but why do we eat what we eat. Apparently, I should read two books by Harvey Levenstein, social histories of American eating habits. The first, Revolution at the Table, covers American food history from 1880 to 1930, the second, Paradox of Plenty, coverts 1930 to 1990 or so.
I have a hunch that many foods, like white sugar and white flour, started out as delicacies for the rich, making them all the more desirable to the masses, who gradually gained access to them through technological advances. The question remains, to me at least, what did people eat before that? Is that any more healthy than what we’re eating now or is it just what people had access to then? The existence of populations that subsisted on rice in Asia or beans and rice in Latin America or potatoes in Ireland makes me wonder whether those eating habits are just enough to scrape by or whether they’re healthier (whatever that means) than eating at McDonald’s twice a day.