A history of food and water

Two articles explore technology and science

By
March 18, 2013

The March 18 issue of the New Yorker has two food-related articles. The first, Jane Kramer's riff on Bee Wilson’s Consider the Fork — a history book recently reviewed on Culinate — is a combination book review, critical essay, and personal memoir built around the history of food technology:

It’s been said that the kitchen was invented when cooking moved indoors. This was a long process. The first kitchens were solitary structures, built far enough from your house to contain a sudden fire. Then they moved to a courtyard, or to a room across the courtyard from where your family lived, and, eventually, like the big Roman-orgy kitchens, to the cellar. In any event, your food was at best tepid by the time it reached the table. It took millennia to bring kitchens safely to where they are now — at most, a pantry away from the dinner table.

The second, David Owen's article about Florida's deadly sinkholes, includes a section explaining how the planet’s aquifers — the source of much of our fresh water — will be adversely affected not just by our direct demands on them (for drinking water, agriculture, and the like) but by climate change.

As the water goes, so does the land: “Farmland in some areas of California subsided more than 30 feet between the 1920s and the 1970s, as underlying aquifers were emptied.” And in Florida, empty aquifers can mean more sinkholes.

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