Review by Choice Review
This collection of essays by various contributors is a valuable addition to the literature on the history of foods. Remarkably free of food history myths, this comprehensive work contains sections that cover prehistoric and historic food patterns of various peoples; foods by broad categories such as grains, nuts, spices and flavorings, and animal foods; specific nutrients; nutrition-related disorders; and historic food habits for broad geographical areas of the world. The relationship of nutrition and health, both past and present, is discussed. The last section is a dictionary of the world's food plants with extensive cross-references. The extensive subject index includes Latin names, and there is also a Latin name index and a personal name index to literature citations within the text. The information is highly interdisciplinary, and the sheer amount of material to cover is so vast that even a work of this size cannot give in-depth coverage of all aspects. However, the material is a well-balanced coverage of the subject. Tables, graphs, and black-and-white pictures; chapter bibliographies. Recommended for any library. All levels. N. Duran Illinois State University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
Kiple, who edited the well-reviewed Cambridge World History of Human Disease (1993), has turned his attention to the subject of food. As culinary art struggles to become an academic discipline, Kiple and his co-editor (and wife) Ornelas are aiding in the quest with the help of more than 200 contributors. The majority of the writers are academic faculty with specialties in history, anthropology, medicine, and nutrition. The two volumes are arranged in eight parts covering the diet of early man, staple foods, dietary liquids, nutrients and food-related disorders, food and drink around the world, nutrition and health, current food-related issues, and concluding with a dictionary of plant foods. The parts are subdivided into 170 chapters. The majority of the chapters are at least five pages in length and provide extensive, current bibliographies. They may also include notes, tables, graphs, maps, diagrams, black-and-white photographs, or line drawings. Some of the chapters are very scholarly and technical. The discussion of the early history of food in the Caribbean, for example, includes a diagram of the "isotopic reconstruction of Lucayan consumption." Other chapters are quite readable and filled with interesting facts for the layperson. Part 5, "Food and Drink around the World," includes discussions of the Arctic and subarctic regions and diets and disease prevention in the Mediterranean, among other topics. The Russian chapter surveys the history of the region from early times but says nothing about the post-Soviet era. Part eight, the dictionary, has more than 1,000 entries of varying lengths: cress is defined in four sentences, while coffee takes a page (in addition to extensive coverage in Part three, "Dietary Liquid"). Most entries give the Latin name, and there are a number of see and see also references. The complete table of contents is included in each volume, but the indexes (subject, author, and Latin names) are found only in volume two. Food: A Culinary History (Columbia, 1999) has a similar title but emphasizes European culture, and the essays are written with a chronological perspective. The A^-Z arrangement of The Oxford Companion to Food [RBB Ja 1 & 15 00] makes that title a more accessible ready-reference tool. The Cambridge World History of Food is a thorough study of a topic that is eternally popular. It should become a standard source in reference collections of academic and large public libraries.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
It seems inconceivable that the editors and 224 international experts who contributed to this tour de force would suggest that our Paleolithic ancestors ate healthier than humans did up to 100 years ago, but they bolster their claim with facts: because they were hunter-gatherers, our Paleolithic forebears did not stay in one place long enough to pollute the local water with waste, nor did they come to rely on one primary source of food (and thus limit their access to vitamins and proteins). In addition to looking at the relationship between what we eat today and what humans ate millions of years ago, Kiple and Ornelas explore every type of food and food supplement, the cultural history of food, opposing views of vegetarianism, and related contemporary policy issues such as the argument over food labeling. With information that is up-to-date, a format that is easy to use and a fresh, engaging approach to their subject, Kiple and Ornelas have prepared a magnificent resource. The only quibble a reader may have, which the editors readily acknowledge, is that despite its claim to be a global study, the primary focus of their work is on the U.S. and Europe, but that is because more information on the history of foods in these areas is available than anywhere else. Serious students of health and anthropology, as well as libraries, provide an obvious market for this two-volume treatise. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
Bringing together contributions from 224 experts writing on the "full spectrum of foods that have been hunted, gathered, cultivated, and domesticated," editors Kiple (Bowling Green State Univ.) and Ornelas have created an outstanding new reference source. Divided into two volumes, it is composed of chapters that are then further subdivided to cover a wide range of food- and nutrition-related topics, such as the foods our ancestors ate, the domestication and development of staple plant and animal foods, nutrient deficiencies and surfeits, and contemporary food-related policy issues. The final section is a "dictionary" with brief entries for 1000 plant foods mentioned elsewhere in the text. This reference shares some elements with The Oxford Companion to Food (LJ 10/15/99), but there are also significant differences. In the Oxford volume, for instance, the alphabetically arranged entries include such dishes as karabij, marmalade, and lasagna, while the Cambridge set covers topics like famine, food psychology, and food fads. Even when both books explore the same topic, such as apples, the amount and type of information provided vary enough that most readers would want to look at both sources. Both offer information on the cuisine of different countries, but while the Oxford volume gives each country a separate entry, the Cambridge set discusses some individually and combines others under broader geographic divisions, such as Southeast Asia. When it comes to the foods of different countries and regions, the Cambridge set provides more comprehensive information but on more specialized topics, such as apricots or pears, while the Oxford volume offers more details overall. Small public libraries on a tight budget might have to opt for just the Oxford volume, but all other libraries will want both sources in their reference collections. The Cambridge World History of Food is a remarkable work of scholarship and is highly recommended. (Subject index not seen.) [Until March 31, 2001, the price is $150.DEd.]DJohn Charles, Scottsdale P.L., AZ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.