Today the things we eat and drink have crossed oceans, continents, and even airspace before reaching the dinner table. The complex systems and technologies devised throughout the centuries to deliver our food supply reveal surprising things about politics, culture, economiesand our appetites. In Mumbai, India's chaotic commercial capital, men use local trains, bicycles, and their feet to transport more than 170,000 lunches a day from housewives to their husbands, with almost no mix-ups. Modern shipping containers allow companies to send frozen salmon to China, where it can be cheaply thawed, filleted, and refrozen, before traveling back to the United States where it's sold in supermarkets as fresh fish. Moveable Feasts takes a novel look at the economics, logistics, and environmental impact of food, and brings new perspective to debates about where we get our meals.
Murray, a Financial Timescontributor, takes a look at the literal journey of food through multilayered essays of the history of food transportation. From the banana export business of Central America (which was rife with America's economic gain and political manhandling) to the creation of the barrel (which revolutionized transcontinental trading and contributed a new dimension to the art of winemaking), the dozen chapters each start with a straightforward item-the shipping container, a tin can, a tub of yogurt, etc.-and delve into topics of greater significance like globalization, empire building, localized farming and food aid programs. For example, her essay on the amphora, a container used to carry olive oil throughout the ancient Roman Empire, not only depicts the social and economic importance of olive oil in Roman times but also leads into the contemporary debate of regional designation of origins for foods like Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or Newcastle brown ale. Erudite and thoroughly researched, this is a fascinating read for both foodies and those who love how the minutiae of life often provide a fresh lens with which to view the world. (Nov.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information