What foods changed the world?

In 1789, Paris broke out in riots over bread prices (. The American Revolutionary War began after angry Bostonians threw tea into the harbor (. Spam really is a type of food that is loved or hated, but even if you're embarrassed to think about it, you should give it the credit it deserves. Hormel launched Spam in 1937, in a world on the brink of war.

Timing is everything, and the Smithsonian says that, while national countries adopted spam because of its versatility, affordability and convenience, they welcomed it with equal enthusiasm on the other side of the world. Spam became crucial to the survival of allied troops, and more than 150 million pounds of spam went to war. It was a staple food found in the rations of American soldiers, but entrepreneurial troops also found other things to do with it. They could also use the grease to waterproof their equipment and keep their weapons lubricated.

While it's not clear if that's what Hormel had in mind when he started supplying the military, it helped make spam a global staple and a cultural icon. Spam, in turn, helped maintain a fighting force that might otherwise have been unsustainable. Garum is one of the oldest condiments in the world and, although it no longer exists in its original form, National Geographic says that we have a version in today's fish sauce. It was a staple of Roman cuisine, prepared with fermented fish tripe and salt, and was used alone, for cooking or even for medicinal purposes.

It sounds disgusting, but it was incredibly popular. The garum was in such high demand in the ancient Roman world that it helped spur the creation of important commercial networks. The coastal cities were built around fisheries and fish processing factories, which were equipped with everything from fishing boats to huge storage facilities for fermentation vats. These original cities were located along the Mediterranean coast and along the migratory fish routes, and the outposts were then connected by land and sea routes open to the garum trade.

Over time, that helped form the backbone of the enormous Roman Empire, with branches of the network reaching as far as Hadrian's Wall. Tea is one of the quintessential British beverages that exist, and has been so since the 19th century. At the time, Britain controlled large parts of the world, but one thing they didn't have much control over was the price of tea that was imported from China. Their murky solution changed entire countries.

Rum is still one of today's favorite liqueurs, but it played a very important role in shaping the world, especially between the 15th and 17th centuries. In case you're not aware of your history, that particular time is the Age of Exploration, and that's when Europe was moving farther and farther away to establish the connections that would ultimately unite us all. Rum was a staple drink on those long sea trips, says National Geographic, and it's also credited with the rise of the British Navy. Great Britain equipped ships and sailors not only with rum, but also with grog.

This rum-based drink was dosed with lime or lemon juice, which meant that sailors were less likely to die from the scurvy that plagued fleets in other countries. Once travel to the colonies opened, New England built entire economies based on rum production. From there, it was an important component that made possible the so-called Triangle Trade (through ThoughtCo). Rum was shipped to the west coast of Africa and exchanged for slaves.

Those slaves were taken to the West Indies and exchanged for molasses, which was then taken to New England and used in the production of rum. It's impossible to imagine what the world would be like without potatoes, because there are an alarming number of times that they have helped to shape history. The Incas had been growing potatoes for generations (through Sploid), and when explorers brought the humble potato to Europe, it changed the rules of the game. Potatoes are a massive and resilient crop that can feed a lot of people, and the Smithsonian states that newly planted potato crops not only ended famines in Europe, but also allowed countries to feed ever larger populations.

In turn, that gave them a greater labor reserve, greater military power, and an advantage during industrialization. This new freedom was a good thing, but at the same time television dinners were becoming popular, as was television itself. These conveniently packaged meals allowed entire families to eat more easily in front of the television instead of around the table, and it's a change in meal times that never went back. When the banana industry consolidated, it was under the umbrella of United Fruit (which later became Chiquita).

Koeppel says that it was one of the first multinational companies and, from seed to shelf, the industry that grew around bananas shaped Latin America. In 1911, a new government was installed in Honduras. It was United Fruit that put them there, after the previous government crossed the corporation. Strangely enough, that often happened at the same time that the company was clearing the jungle, discovering Mayan ruins, building railroads, exiling dictators, and overthrowing entire countries.

Koeppel says that the big banana companies were as ruthless as the big oil companies, and that they weren't even above massacring hundreds of workers who dared to go on strike. Alton Brown (via Mic) says that Instagram's gastronomic culture is having an enormous impact on the amount of food waste produced by society, and it's not just about attempts to get the perfect image. He says that there is more and more ugly food that is not being sold and, ultimately, thrown away, because it is not as photogenic as people want. The problem is enormous, and to show how enormous it is, just look at the bananas.

The UK throws away 1.4 million bananas a day, and that's crazy. Potatoes themselves are one of the most incredible foods that changed the world, with a history and meaning that go back thousands of years, and contradictory theories about their original origin (Peru and Chile are at the forefront). French fries have had a similar impact on our eating habits and a similar controversy over their origins. Some gastronomic historians believe that they were invented in Belgium in the 17th century, while another theory is that Thomas Jefferson's French chef served French fries to the president, creating the term French fries.

What we eat changes history, and the history of food has always been closely related to progress and social inequality. For better or worse, food is literally the fuel that feeds human society. The third season of the popular nonfiction series “The Food That Built America” will satisfy viewers' appetites by sharing the origin stories of a new group of bold pioneers behind the most emblematic gastronomic empires in the United States, such as Orville Redenbacher, Ettore “Chef” Boiardi, Wally Amos, Debbi Fields and Tom Carvel, among others. Before these brands became household names, they came from brilliant, sometimes ruthless visionaries who revolutionized food and changed America's culinary landscape forever.

Through dramatic re-enactments, fascinating facts and expert commentary, this season delves into the incredible stories of determination, creativity, and determination of these culinary entrepreneurs whose tireless innovation helped them succeed. Organizations such as the Red Cross and the World Food Programme are dedicated to ensuring that much-needed food deliveries reach the line of fire. However, in terms of popularity and cultural importance, it's as American as apple pie and has changed trends toward fast food. Pollan argued that technological progress that had made all food available all the time in globalized consumer markets was responsible for the destruction of the environment and for a fundamental rupture between food and culture.

As a result of a combination of investments in frontier farmland, the growing global demand for cheap food and the reduction in the number of global food companies that dominate the market, it has spread to most processed foods. Food has been preserved by canning it in glass jars and bottles since the 18th century and has been sealed in cans since 1810, a system patented by the Englishman Peter Durand, who later supplied canned food to the Royal Navy. And with dozens of individual food stories piled up on the shelves, it's more clear that it won't be a single food that will change the world. Many foods have been invented as a way to run out of leftovers and, in a way, television dinners are following the trend.


Hazel Guanio
Hazel Guanio

Award-winning tv advocate. Hipster-friendly pop culture aficionado. Proud food lover. Certified beer ninja. Hardcore tv aficionado. Freelance zombie scholar.