Foodways in World History

CornHow has the history of human society been driven by the need for food? What can regional cuisines tell us about the histories of human migration, trade, and political interactions?

This teachers’ institute explored the history of foodways as a theme for K-12 classrooms. Leading scholars in the field presented case studies from around the world addressing topics of food cultivation, consumption, security and culture from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. 

photo credit: Tortillas, Tlayudas, Pozoles, Esquites, Tamales... via photopin (license)

Presenter Videos

Food: The Ultimate Active Learning Tool

Fasting in World History

Food for the Nation: Understanding Russia's Post-Soviet Transition

Agriculture in Prehistoric Mexico

Rice and Rice Farmers in West Africa's Upper Guinea Coast

Agricultural Production in the Ancient Near East in the last 7,000 Years

Sacred Grain - Rice and Religion in East and Southeast Asian Perspective

Food, Famine, and Moral Choice in Nineteenth-Century China and Ireland

Fables of Famine in India during the British Colonial Period

Online Resources

Food History Timeline

See the development of various crops and domesticated animals on one side, with associated recipes on the other.

Gastronomica: The Journal Of Critical Food Studies

A magazine featuring critical inquiries into the history of food and its role(s) in societies.

"Pictures to Draw Tears from Iron"

An essay about the North China famine of 1876 - 79. It includes woodblock images and describes the use of Chinese media to try to address the crisis.

Southern Foodways Alliance

Oral histories and apodcastabout foodways in the American South. Of note: several stories that show migration and globalization via food history.

Agriculture: Complex Civilization Begins

A short video about the beginnings of agriculture from theBig History Project.

Big Food: Health, Culture and the Evolution of Eating

A short film about obesity, health, and food sustainability.

Drunken Monkeys

A short video and article about alcohol and human evolution.