How people eat today is a record of food use through the ages—and not just the decadent, delicious foods but the less glamorous and often life-saving foods from periods of famine as well. In Famine Foods, Paul E. Minnis focuses on the myriad plants that have sustained human populations throughout the course of history, unveiling the those that people have consumed, and often still consume, to avoid starvation. For the first time, this book offers a fascinating overview of famine foods—how they are used, who uses them, and, perhaps most importantly, why they may be critical to sustain human life in the future.
In addition to a broader discussion of famine foods, Minnis includes fourteen short case studies that examine the use of alternative foods in human societies throughout the world, from hunter-gatherers to major nations. When environmental catastrophes, war, corrupt governments, annual hunger seasons, and radical agricultural policies have threatened to starve populations, cultural knowledge and memories of food shortages have been crucial to the survival of millions of people.Famine Foods dives deeply into the cultural contexts of famine food use, showing the curious, strange, and often unpleasant foods people have turned to in order to get by. There is not a single society or area of the world that is immune to severe food shortages, and gaining a deeper knowledge of famine foods will be relevant for the foreseeable future of humanity.