Feeding Gotham: The Political Economy and Geography of Food in New York, 1790–1860

Princeton University Press
Free sample

New York City witnessed unparalleled growth in the first half of the nineteenth century, its population rising from thirty thousand people to nearly a million in a matter of decades. Feeding Gotham looks at how America's first metropolis grappled with the challenge of provisioning its inhabitants. It tells the story of how access to food, once a public good, became a private matter left to free and unregulated markets—and of the profound consequences this had for American living standards and urban development.

Taking readers from the early republic to the Civil War, Gergely Baics explores the changing dynamics of urban governance, market forces, and the built environment that defined New Yorkers’ experiences of supplying their households. He paints a vibrant portrait of the public debates that propelled New York from a tightly regulated public market to a free-market system of provisioning, and shows how deregulation had its social costs and benefits. Baics uses cutting-edge GIS mapping techniques to reconstruct New York’s changing food landscapes over half a century, following residents into neighborhood public markets, meat shops, and groceries across the city’s expanding territory. He lays bare how unequal access to adequate and healthy food supplies led to an increasingly differentiated urban environment.

A masterful blend of economic, social, and geographic history, Feeding Gotham traces how this highly fragmented geography of food access became a defining and enduring feature of the American city.

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About the author

Gergely Baics is assistant professor of history and urban studies at Barnard College, Columbia University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Aug 30, 2016
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Pages
368
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ISBN
9781400883622
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Americas (North, Central, South, West Indies)
History / General
History / Modern / General
History / Social History
History / United States / 19th Century
Social Science / Agriculture & Food
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Michael Pollan, the bestselling author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, Food Rules, and How to Change Your Mind, explores the previously uncharted territory of his own kitchen in Cooked. 

Now a docu-series streaming on Netflix, starring Pollan as he explores how cooking transforms food and shapes our world. Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney exectuve produces the four-part series based on Pollan's book, and each episode will focus on a different natural element: fire, water, air, and earth. 

In Cooked, Pollan discovers the enduring power of the four classical elements—fire, water, air, and earth—to transform the stuff of nature into delicious things to eat and drink. Apprenticing himself to a succession of culinary masters, Pollan learns how to grill with fire, cook with liquid, bake bread, and ferment everything from cheese to beer.

Each section of Cooked tracks Pollan’s effort to master a single classic recipe using one of the four elements. A North Carolina barbecue pit master tutors him in the primal magic of fire; a Chez Panisse–trained cook schools him in the art of braising; a celebrated baker teaches him how air transforms grain and water into a fragrant loaf of bread; and finally, several mad-genius “fermentos” (a tribe that includes brewers, cheese makers, and all kinds of picklers) reveal how fungi and bacteria can perform the most amazing alchemies of all. The reader learns alongside Pollan, but the lessons move beyond the practical to become an investigation of how cooking involves us in a web of social and ecological relationships. Cooking, above all, connects us.

The effects of not cooking are similarly far reaching. Relying upon corporations to process our food means we consume large quantities of fat, sugar, and salt; disrupt an essential link to the natural world; and weaken our relationships with family and friends. In fact, Cooked argues, taking back control of cooking may be the single most important step anyone can take to help make the American food system healthier and more sustainable. Reclaiming cooking as an act of enjoyment and self-reliance, learning to perform the magic of these everyday transformations, opens the door to a more nourishing life.
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In Unnaturally Delicious, Lusk makes room for optimism by writing the story of the changing food system, suggesting that technology and agriculture can work together in a healthy and innovative way to help solve the world's largest food issues and improve the farming system as we know it.

This is the story of the innovators and innovations shaping the future of food. You’ll meet an ex-farmer entrepreneur whose software is now being used all over the world to help farmers increase yields and reduce nutrient runoff and egg producers who’ve created new hen housing systems that improve animal welfare at an affordable price. There are scientists growing meat in the lab. Without the cow. College students are coaxing bacteria to signal food quality and fight obesity. Nutrient enhanced rice and sweet potatoes are aiming to solve malnutrition in the developing world. Geneticists are creating new wheat varieties that allow farmers sustainably grow more with less. And, we’ll learn how to get fresh, tasty, 3D printed food at the touch of a button, perhaps even delivered to us by a robotic chef.

Innovation is the American way. Thomas Jefferson, George Washington Carver, and John Harvey Kellogg were food and agricultural entrepreneurs. Their delicious innovations led to new healthy, tasty, convenient, and environmentally friendly food. The creations were unnaturally delicious. Unnatural because the foods and practices they fashioned were man-made solutions to natural and man-made problems.

Now the world is filled with new challenges changing the way we think about food. Who are the scientists, entrepreneurs, and progressive farmers who meet these challenges and search for solutions? Unnaturally Delicious has the answers.

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