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What can we learn from the global history of food?

Cook for webIs the desire to cook and share food together the origin of language? Did beer provide the crucial calories and energy that powered the Industrial Revolution? When did Italians begin eating tomato sauce? Do chop sticks have a history?

The Global History of Food, a new undergraduate module in the History department at the University of Warwick is the first of its kind in the UK. The module explores our long history of growing, eating, cooking and selling food, from ancient times to the present, from vegetarianism to the first battery chicken.

Professor Rebecca Earle who teaches the module in the History department at the University of Warwick said:

"Food’s history affects everyone, whether we realise it or not. This module covers topics ranging from the origins of humanity to ‘orthorexia’—a new term to describe the current obsession with ‘righteous eating’. Its aim is both to trace out food’s central place in human history, and also to provide students with tools to think about their own relationship with food."

This long view, together with a global approach, spotlights the longstanding culinary interconnections between different continents and cultures. Eating has been a global activity for a long time. Thinking about food globally, and across time also highlights the differences between how we eat now and and in the past.

The module considers food from multiple, overlapping perspectives - ethics, labour, environment, community, power, health, hunger and science - to help contextualise our current attitudes to food.

Guest speakers such as the architect and food writer Carolyn Steel, author of the highly-acclaimed Hungry City, will bring their expertise to the challenge of understanding how and why eating is both one of our most enduring pleasures, and so intensely troublesome.


Alex Buxton: Media Relations Manager, University of Warwick

Tel: 02476 150423
Mob: 07876 218166