Waste Not, Want Not: Food Preservation from Early Times to the Present Day

Waste Not, Want Not: Food Preservation from Early Times to the Present Day

Waste Not, Want Not: Food Preservation from Early Times to the Present Day

Waste Not, Want Not: Food Preservation from Early Times to the Present Day

Excerpt

Famine is still a grim reality in the Third World, and for many centuries it was a reality in this country too. The varied ways in which surplus food has been conserved in former times to make it available for the seasons of scarcity form the subject of our book.

Today we are not seriously affected if crops grown in the British Isles fail through drought or excessive rain, or if over-fishing leads to a dearth of fish from the seas around us. Any dearth of local foodstuffs can be overcome through trade with other countries in other climatic regions; and we pay for both necessary and luxury foods brought into our ports by exporting a wide range of goods and services, some of them, like computer-related skills, far removed from the realm of food production.

It is true that even in our affluent society there are still some people who suffer from malnutrition, usually linked with poverty and an unwillingness to live on a diet based on the cheapest foodstuffs because they tend to be boring, stodgy and untempting to the appetite. Yet today the poorest people are not likely to practise food preservation, buying cheaply at times of glut; for even gluts have a fairly small effect on shop prices when high labour and transport costs and high rents have to be built into the equation. Moreover, the poorest people often lack the equipment, storage vessels and space necessary for preserving food on a worthwhile scale. Today the favourite type of domestic food preservation is probably deep-freezing. This requires . . .

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