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An Edible History of Humanity Timeline

By Tom Standage WHAP
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on 24 August 2012

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Transcript of An Edible History of Humanity Timeline

An Edible History of Humanity Timeline
Written by: Tom Standage 1795 The French government offered a prize to anyone who could develop a new way to preserve food. This motivated more people to try to come up with a solution. 1804 The winner of the contest, Nicolas Appert, set up a small factory where he would continue is production of stored food in sealed champagne bottes. 1810 Peter Durand, a business man in London, had been granted a patent for a preservation technique. He sold this to an engineer name Bryce Donkin who set up a company, and instead of preserving food in bottles, he used canisters made of tin (tin can). 1860-1870 In America, the production of canned food went from 5 million cans a year to 30 million. 1860's 1503 The first sugar mill opened on Hispaniola. 1493 Madeira had become the world's largest sugar producer. It had ideal climate for sugar, close to the supply of slaves, and was on the edge of the known world. Columbus realized that the new lands he discovered were well suited for production of sugar, so on his second voyage he brought sugar cane with him to Hispaniola thus introducing it to the New World. 1460 1764 Attemps by the British to restrict imports to New England, in the form of the Sugar Act of 1794, was deeply unpopular among the colonists, causing many disagreements and protests that inevitably led to the Declaration of Independence. 1440's During this time, the Portugese increased sugar production in Madeira by bringing in large numbers of black slaves from Africa. 1530 Europeans had first learned of the potatoes when the Spanish conquistadores embarked upon the conquest of the Inca Empire where potatoes were a mainstay. 1600 Potatoes were being cultivated on a small scale in a few parts of Europe. 1709 I wasn't until famine struck in France that the virtues of potatoes were made starkly clear and the threat of starvation forced people to put aside their prejudices. 1776 The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith was published. It stated that "the food produced by a field of potatoes is not inferior in quantity to that produced by a field of rice, and much superior to what is produced by a field of wheat. 1845 The potato crop failure in Ireland caused by Phytophthora infestans, a fungus from the New World, had affected the whole country. The plants began to wither and rot. Many people had suffered from starvation. 1500 B.C. The practive known as nixtamalization (the process of softening the kernals of corn, but more importantly liberating the amino acids and niacin) had been developed. Without it, great maize-based cultures of the Americas could never have been established. 1850 In China, the arrival of maize along with sweet potatoes accounted for the increase in population from 140 million to 400 million. November 2, 1492 When Christopher Columbus and his crew arrived in Cuba, he sent 2 of his men with local guides. After 4 days, the men returned and failed to find either a city or an emperor. However they had found maize. This was the first time the Europeans had encountered it. 2007 The biofuel made from maize, ethanol, accounted for 40 percent of the the world's production, most of it in the United States. 1520's 300 B.C. Farming was spreading widely. Farmers arriving via the Korean Peninsula from China introduced rice agriculture to Japan for the first time. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) was established where they made high-yield varieties of rice. 1960 1966 A new variety, called IR8, was created. It produced 5 times more rice yields than traditional strains without fertilizer and with fertilizer is could produce 10 tons. It became know as the "miracle rice" as it was quickly adopted throughout Asia. IR8 was soon followed by further varieties that were more disease resistant and matured faster, making it possible to grow 2 crops a year for the first time in this region. 2000 The new varieties of rice accounted for 74 percent of the rice producing area across Asia and 100 percent in China, making it the world's largest rice producer. 1939 Mexico's wheat harvests had suffered from a disease called stem rust. It reduced its harvest by half. 1952 1963 95 percent of Mexico's wheat was based off of Borlaug's newly released seed varieties. It helped increase the wheat harvest by 6 times, and instead of importing 200,000-300,000 tons of wheat a year, Mexico exported 63,000 tons of wheat. In a speech by William Gaud, he highlights the impact that high-yield varieties of wheat were starting to have in Pakistan, India and Turkey. March 1968 "Record yields, harvests of unprecedented size and crops now in the ground demonstrate that throughtout much of the developing world- and particularly in Asia- we are on the verge of an agricultural revolution." 1986 The wheat harvest in India was forty seven million tons, so that in the following year when India had suffered from a drought, they were able to survive. The Green Revolution and wheat helped them become self-sufficient. 1 A.D. It is estimated that Asia accounted for 75 percent of world economic output. This was because there were more people in Asia than in other regions, in large part because rice agriculture supports higher population densities. A wave of expansion began as the spice-trade network came to encompass the entire Old World, with cinnamon and pepper from India being carried as far west as Britain and frankincense from Arabia traveling as far east as China. 641 A.D. Once Alexandria fell to Muslim troops, spices could no longer reach the Mediterranean directly: Europeans were relegated to a commercial backwater by a "Muslim Curtain" that blocked their access to the east where the spices were. They were cut off from the Indian Ocean trade system. Borlaug had heard about the work being done with Norin 10, so he began to cross his Mexican varieties with Norin 10. Within a few years, he had developed a new wheat strain that could produce more than twice the yield of traditional Mexican varieties (with the use of feritlizer). The plague, the Black Death, spread and soon reached France and England. Many French doctors thought spices could help protect people from the plague. For example they recommened that you drink broth seasoned with pepper, ginger, and cloves or to carry pepper and rose petals when going out. However, they were useless and were partly to blame for the arrival and spread of the plague. There was a sudden spike in the price of spices- in England, the price of pepper increased eightfold- which painfully reminded everyone just how dependent they were on their suppliers. All of this fueled the growing interest to find a new way around the Muslim Curtain. 1560 Even though Portugal controlled 10% of the Malabar pepper trade and 75% of the flow of spices to Europe, their attempts to blockade Muslim shipping was never really effective, so the flow of spices taken by Muslim traders to Alexandria had recovered to previous levels. They had succeeded in defining a new model for European trade in the East. 1 500 B.C. 1348 4 1 0 Maize had established itself in several parts of Spain and northern Portugal, and it soon afterward spread around the Mediterranean, into central Europe, and down the west coast of Africa. It became so popular and widespread that its origin became obscured! In Britain, an outbreak of cattle disease prompted people to turn to canned meat from Australia and South America. This helped the spread of canned food and saved Britain from famine.
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