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Against The Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization

1 rating: 5.0
2004 non-fiction book by Richard Manning

In this provocative, wide-ranging book, Richard Manning offers a dramatically revisionist view of recent human evolution, beginning with the vast increase in brain size that set us apart from our primate relatives and brought an accompanying increase … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Nonfiction, Economics, Ecology, Sustainability, Agricultural History
Author: Richard Manning
Genre: History, Agricultural Sciences
Publisher: North Point Press
Date Published: Febraury 15, 2004
1 review about Against The Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked...

Thoughtful assessment of the sorry state of agriculture

  • Dec 13, 2008
  • by
Walk into to any supermarket and you probably feel very good about all of the choices you have.  After all, the average supermarket carries more than 45000 items these days.  But if you are like most people, the vast majority of the items you will wind up purchasing are highly processed and contain precious little in the way of nutritional value.  Did you know that nearly 2/3 of the calories the average American consumes come from just three crops--corn, wheat and potatoes?

Author Richard Manning certainly got my attention with this fascinating book "Against The Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization".  Manning points out that for the most of history human beings were "hunter-gatherers".  People would migrate to where the food was and partake of a vast assortment of foods.  The diet of "hunter-gatherers" included everything from fruits and vegetables to nuts and legumes and fresh meat.  This all began to change about 10000 years ago with the advent of agriculture.  Over the centuries people came to rely on fewer and fewer crops for survival.  Manning notes that the pattern was virtually identical all over the world.  Soon the diet most human beings consumed would consist of  just a handful of crops, all relatively high in carbohydrates.  In recent decades the rise of huge conglomerates like ADM (Archer Daniels Midland) has only exacerbated the problem.  Corporate entities do not view crops as food.  Rather, they view crops as commodities and it is for this reason that family farms in our nation have all but disappeared,   In the meantime, people in poor nations go unfed despite massive crop surplusses and those in rich nations wind up eating a largely bland and less than nutritious diet.

For those like myself who are poorly informed on these issues "Against The Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization" certainly proves to be an eye-opener.  Manning not only exposes the serious flaws in our current system but also proposes reasonable fixes to a number of these problems.  Perhaps when we become aware of all those "empty" calories we ingest each day we will begin to think more carefully about the foods we eat.  "Against The Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization" is an extremely well written book that managed my to hold my attention throughout.     Highly recommended!
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