Knowledge for better food systems

Book: Meat makes people powerful: a global history of the modern era

Wilson Warren outlines the history of how meat became so popular, with a particular focus on government influences on meat-eating in East Asia.

Publisher’s summary

From large-scale cattle farming to water pollution, meat—more than any other food—has had an enormous impact on our environment. Historically, Americans have been among the most avid meat-eaters in the world, but long before that meat was not even considered a key ingredient in most civilisations’ diets. Labour historian Wilson Warren, who has studied the meat industry for more than a decade, provides this global history of meat to help us understand how it entered the daily diet, and at what costs and benefits to society.

Spanning from the nineteenth century to current and future trends, Warren walks us through the economic theory of food, the discovery of protein, the Japanese eugenics debate around meat, and the environmental impact of livestock, among other topics. Through his comprehensive, multifaceted research, he provides readers with the political, economic, social, and cultural factors behind meat consumption over the last two centuries. With a special focus on East Asia, Meat Makes People Powerful reveals how national governments regulated and oversaw meat production, helping transform virtually vegetarian cultures into major meat consumers at record speed.

As more and more Americans pay attention to the sources of the meat they consume, Warren’s compelling study will help them not only better understand the industry, but also make more informed personal choices. Providing an international perspective that will appeal to scholars and nutritionists alike, this timely examination will forever change the way you see the food on your plate.

 

Reference

Warren, W.J. (2018). Meat Makes People Powerful: A Global History of the Modern Era. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.

Read more here. See also the Foodsource resource Focus: the difficult livestock issue.

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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