Everyone Eats: Understanding Food and Culture

Everyone Eats: Understanding Food and Culture

Everyone Eats: Understanding Food and Culture

Everyone Eats: Understanding Food and Culture


Everyone eats, but rarely do we investigate why we eat what we eat. Why do we love spices, sweets, coffee? How did rice become such a staple food throughout so much of eastern Asia? Everyone Eats examines the social and cultural reasons for our food choices and provides an explanation of the nutritional reasons for why humans eat what they do, resulting in a unique cultural and biological approach to the topic. E. N. Anderson explains the economics of food in the globalization era; food’s relationship to religion, medicine, and ethnicity; and offers suggestions on how to end hunger, starvation, and malnutrition.

This thoroughly updated Second Edition incorporates the latest food scholarship, most notably recognizing the impact of sustainable eating advocacy and the state of food security in the world today. Anderson also brings more insight than ever before into the historical and scientific underpinnings of our food customs, fleshing this out with fifteen new and original photographs from his own extensive fieldwork.

A perennial classic in the anthropology of food, Everyone Eats feeds our need to understand human ecology by explaining the ways that cultures and political systems structure the edible environment.


When I finished the first edition of this book, in the early twenty-first century, I was cautiously hopeful. The world was producing enough food. Distribution was improving. Structural reforms had forced many people off needed supports and hurt food production in some areas, but they had also freed up food production in many other areas. Above all, governments were showing some awareness that they had to take action to save key natural resources and to make food widely available and affordable or else face mass disasters.

The situation in the subsequent 10 years has been a disappointment, especially the economic crisis that began in 2008. Little has been done for farming.

The world food situation has unraveled, while governments have often—perhaps understandably—acted in ways that relieved shortterm problems (or at least attempted to relieve them) while sacrificing long-term interests. World food supplies have been devastated by urbanization and erosion. Cropland and forest land has been sacrificed . . .

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