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Meals to Come

A History of the Future of Food

Warren Belasco (Author)


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In this provocative and lively addition to his acclaimed writings on food, Warren Belasco takes a sweeping look at a little-explored yet timely topic: humanity's deep-rooted anxiety about the future of food. People have expressed their worries about the future of the food supply in myriad ways, and here Belasco explores a fascinating array of material ranging over two hundred years—from futuristic novels and films to world's fairs, Disney amusement parks, supermarket and restaurant architecture, organic farmers' markets, debates over genetic engineering, and more. Placing food issues in this deep historical context, he provides an innovative framework for understanding the future of food today—when new prophets warn us against complacency at the same time that new technologies offer promising solutions. But will our grandchildren's grandchildren enjoy the cornucopian bounty most of us take for granted? This first history of the future to put food at the center of the story provides an intriguing perspective on this question for anyone—from general readers to policy analysts, historians, and students of the future—who has wondered about the future of life's most basic requirement.

1. The Stakes in Our Steaks
2. The Debate: Will the World Run Out of Food?
3. The Deep Structure of the Debate

4. The Utopian Caveat
5. Dystopias

6. The Classical Future
7. The Modernist Future
8. The Recombinant Future

Selected Bibliography
Warren Belasco, Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, is author of Appetite for Change: How the Counterculture Took on the Food Industry and Americans on the Road: From Autocamp to Motel and coeditor of Food Nations: Selling Taste in Consumer Societies.
“Belasco's book makes us intimately aware of how much of the rhetoric around tummy issues was laid out way before our time. . . . If that skeptical awareness alone makes us more able to think critically about the meaning of what we eat, Belasco's history has earned its meal ticket.”—Bookforum
“Belasco has written a history that is both valuable and accessible. He has an ear for the tidbit that will entertain while it edifies.”—Jeffrey P. Miller, Colorado State Univ. Enterprise & Society
“Extensive in scope. . . . Filled with fascinating detail.”—Gastronomica: Journal Of Food & Culture
“At its frequent best negotiates a dizzying web of issues with subtlety and balance, not to mention polish and verve. Mr. Belasco’s sense of the ridiculous — recommended equipment for any study of futurology — coexists with a rueful awareness that we can’t see ourselves today as others will see us tomorrow. “How do we keep a grip on reality while still allowing ourselves to dream of a better future?” he asks. One way for some of us to start is to read this book.”—New York Times
“Belasco’s prose is easygoing and professorially humane.”—New York Times Book Review
“The discussion is smart and comprehensive.”—Publishers Weekly
“An ingenious analysis of the way in which optimists and pessimists alike use food to illustrate their vision of the future.“—The Economist
“Much to instruct. . . . A succinct account of views on the shrinking planet over the past century, gathered from theorists, think tanks and from science fiction too.”—The Guardian
"Warren Belasco is a witty, wonderfully observant guide to the hopes and fears that every era projects onto its culinary future. This enlightening study reads like time-travel for foodies."—Laura Shapiro, author of Something From the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America

"In his insightful look at human imaginings about their food and its future sufficiency, Warren Belasco makes use of everything from academic papers, films, and fiction to journalism, advertising and world’s fairs to trace a pattern of public concern over two centuries. His wide-ranging scholarship humbles all would-be futurists by reminding us that ours is not the first generation, nor is it likely to be the last, to argue inconclusively about whether we can best feed the world with more spoons, better manners or a larger pie. Truly painless education; a wonderful read!"—Joan Dye Gussow, author This Organic Life

"Warren Belasco serves up an intellectual feast, brilliantly dissecting two centuries of expectations regarding the future of food and hunger. Meals to Come provides an essential guide to thinking clearly about the worrisome question as to whether the world can ever be adequately and equitably fed."—Joseph J. Corn, co-author of Yesterday's Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future

"This astute, sly, warmly human critique of the basic belly issues that have absorbed and defined Americans politically, socially, and economically for the past 200 years is a knockout. Warren Belasco’s important book, crammed with knowledge, is absolutely necessary for an understanding of where we are now."—Betty Fussell, author of My Kitchen Wars

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