Food, Society, and Environment

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9780130305664: Food, Society, and Environment

This book concerns itself with food and hunger issues, primarily in America, but also as America is located in both history and a broader global system today. It focuses on food consumption and production in relation to history, society (including politics and economics), environmental impacts, and some ethical and social justice issues surrounding food. Chapter topics look at: Food as a Human Value and Problem; The Biological Base: Food, Humans, and Well-Being; Food and History: From Hunter-Gatherers to the Preindustrial West; Food and America: Early Industrial Era Transformation; Food in America and the World 1945-2001: Continuing Transformations; Foodways, Eating and Cuisine in America; Food, Population, and Environment; and Food, Ethics, and Social Justice. For individuals who find food issues fascinating because of their relationship to universal and basic human concerns.

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The title Food, Society, and Environment came from conversation. When people asked us "what is your book about?" that's exactly what we told them—mentioning a bit about how we treated the three terms as important qualifiers. Our book is addressed to two kinds of readers. First, to those who find food issues fascinating because they relate to such universal and basic human concerns, and particularly those who may appreciate the insights of the humanities and social sciences "about food." Second, to those in educational settings—students and faculty—for whom food issues are important because they relate to other human concerns. As an early reviewer of our project said: "Food is a topic critically important to many fields, but one which often slips through the cracks of conventional analysis." Specialized food scholars will find little new in this book, though we hope to have accurately incorporated some of their important findings and insights. As we explain in the following introduction, rather than a very specialized approach, we attempt to discuss the important links between food issues from different perspectives and areas of scholarship, insights, and perspectives.

That is indeed a challenge—but one that we found fascinating and engaging. It also extended a long-standing friendship and collegial relationship. Given our intended readers, we have written in an informal style, because we think that reading should be more like a conversation between authors and their readers.

We thank the College of Arts and Sciences of Creighton University for providing sabbatical leaves, which provided the time and resources making our project possible. In particular, we thank Prentice Hall Publisher Nancy Roberts, who decided to publish the work, and also Chris DeJohn, Sharon Chambliss, and Christina Scalia, and all of the Prentice Hall staff who supported its development. We thank the following Prentice Hall reviewers for their suggestions and comments: David Kozak, Fort Lewis College; Amy Bentley, New York University; Harold C. Furr, University of Connecticut; Ken Albala, University of the Pacific. We thank our academic colleagues and students, who encouraged us, as well as suffered us while it was being completed. Last but not the least, we thank our wives Anne and Chris, who both encouraged and suffered us individually through this and other projects over the years.

We are interested in your insights and responses, and encourage you to contact us if you wish.

Charles Harper
Bryan Le Beau

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