As a former social studies teacher, I’m well aware that a lot of people think history books are boring. They certainly can be, especially when you’re not particularly interested in the topic. So why not read about the history of something you actually care about? For me, that would be food. And judging by the recent popularity of food history titles, I’m not alone!

Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
What has happened to the tomato? Why are store-bought tomatoes so identically shaped, hard, and tasteless? Author Barry Estabrook investigates what has gone wrong on our quest to make cheap produce available in grocery stores all year long. It’s impossible for this exposé not to change the way you think about tomatoes, and you may never buy one at the grocery store again!

White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf
Alton Brown once said that a rule of thumb for making a good sandwich is that you should use a bread that you would be willing to eat on its own. Upon hearing this, I suddenly realized that I’d never eat store-bought white bread on its own, that I should stop making sandwiches with it, and that I probably should stop consuming it altogether. Beyond exploring what goes into a loaf of white bread and how that came to be, Aaron Bobrow-Strain’s “White Bread” traces the roots of this most popular loaf and what it is has meant to society in terms of race, class, immigration and gender.

Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil
The health benefits and culinary importance of olive oil have been touted for centuries. But apparently these days there’s a lot of fake olive oil going around. Tom Mueller explores how it has become highly profitable to sell imitation extra virgin olive oil at low prices. Turns out, it’s pretty easy to get away with…

Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine
Some of Andrew F. Smith’s exciting turning points include Gail Borden’s Canned Milk, Kelloggs’ Corn Flakes, and McDonald’s Drive-In. Each chapter is a short exploration of a defining moment in American cuisine. With this title, you can enjoy your food history like we should all enjoy our meals: in small bites.

Karen Donovan is a collection development associate at OverDrive.

2 Responses to “Keepin’ It Real: eBooks on Food History”

  1. Mary Ellen

    Fun read. You make these books sound enticing! Where did you find that Alton Brown quote?

    • Karen Donovan

      Thanks, Mary Ellen! The Alton Brown line was from his Unified Theory of Sandwich Physics that was presented in the Good Eats episode “Sandwich-Craft.” A transcript of the episode can be found here.” Best, Karen