There have been more reviews of “An Edible History of Humanity” in the Financial Times, Scotland on Sunday, the Toronto Star and the National. As a result I was asked to go on the BBC Radio 4 “Today” programme. This pushed the book to #68 on Amazon.co.uk — not that I am checking obsessively, you understand.
It also prompted a rather odd editorial from the Guardian, which seems to think that I am opposed to agriculture in all its forms (when I am, in fact, merely interested in why anybody originally adopted it, given the relative drawbacks of farming compared with hunting and gathering). Jared Diamond, among others, has argued that the adoption of agriculture was the worst mistake in the history of the human race. It’s a convincing argument, when you compare the lifestyles of hunter-gatherers with those of early farmers. But agriculture is, of course, the basis of civilization as we know it. So we can hardly object — particularly those of us who live in industrialised societies, the very definition of which is that most people are no longer farmers. Living in the rich world, as I do, I can safely say that agriculture is a good thing. People trapped in a life of subsistence agriculture in the developing world may well feel otherwise, however, and might well agree with Diamond.