Many consumers have the impression that, until recently, food and food production was something little changed. This mistaken view is understandable considering modern society’s isolation from the production of food, and marketers’ penchant for using romanticized imagery and narratives to sell food products.
The truth is that innovation and change have been central to food and farming throughout human history – both before and during the scientific era. One of my goals as a new Forbes contributor will be to tell some of the stories behind interesting and important innovations that have changed what is “on our plates” in very positive ways.
Feast or Famine
From the beginning, a fundamental challenge for humanity has been that sources of food tend to be either over-abundant or scarce. Thus, innovations around food storage and preservation have been key to our survival (e.g. drying, salting, pickling, cheese making, fermentation…). Even the ancient storage of dry grains involved innovations like using herbs to line the urns to reduce damage from insect pests.
Cold storage has been used to spread-out the supply of food beginning with caves or cellars. Later people used stored ice from the winter, and eventually came up with refrigeration.
Another major theme of human food-supply innovation has been “genetic modification.” The “natural,” pre-domesticated forms of our food plants are barely recognizable vs their modern forms. Over millennia, humans consciously or unconsciously selected for more desirable specimens, and in so doing, they achieved dramatic genetic changes even with no understanding of the underlying biology.
The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Does Science Belong On My Dinner Plate?