Civilization began as a quest for food. Humanity's transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture was the epochal social revolution in history that directly allowed and produced the structures and institutions we call "civilization," next to that of language itself.
In every era, the unfolding of history has been intimately tied to the quest for production and culture of food and medicine. In all major cultures, food use and development paralleled medicine and hygiene. In all major religions, food choice has been an integral part of religious identity. The quest for spices, medicines, and exotic foodstuffs next to gold and silver led to the European discovery of the New World, as well as to the connecting of the entire globe through trade. The potato and tomato changed the course of culinary history.
Food as sustenance and medicine offers a deeply insightful study on human history. Through food culture, we see how primary biological needs have shaped medicine and hygiene in all human lives through the ages. The history of food is the history of human life at its most elemental levels, something usually overlooked in the study of human history. It's also a story of ingenuity, creativity, and medical history as many foods serve different roles as nourishment, medicine, gastronomic delights and disease.
This is an audio course of 36 lectures, 30 min each, with supplemental literature. 25 clock hours.
- Teacher: Maria Popova