New Book: Feeding the People by Rebecca Earle

Published online: May 13, 2020 Articles, New Products
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Only two things in the world are too serious to be jested on: potatoes and matrimony.

           —Irish Proverb

The connections between everyday life, individualism and the state forged in the late 18th century, of which the history of the potato forms a part, continue to shape today’s debates about how to balance personal dietary freedom with the health of the body politic. The seductive promise that, collectively and individually, we can somehow eat our way to health and happiness remains a powerful component of our uneasy global world.

Mashed, fried, baked, turned into pancakes, made into pies—the potato is a global staple and is eaten daily, for all meals, around the globe. The potato is the fourth-most important food crop in the world, and there is not a single country where the potato is not grown.

Published by Cambridge University Press, Feeding the People: The Politics of the Potato is Rebecca Earle’s brilliant and delicious (with unusual potato-centric recipes woven throughout) exploration of the history of the potato: the best and only way to tell the story about how everyday eating practices became a part of modern politics. Taking a tour through the world and time, Earle expertly illustrates how the “earth apple” played an important part in all wars, and that yesterday’s peasant agriculture has greatly contributed to the food security of today.

Legend has it that Europeans (with the exception of the Irish) originally avoided eating potatoes for over 200 years because the potato was never mentioned in the Bible and thus was not a food designed for man by God. Throughout its 308 pages, Feeding the People traces the potato from obscurity to being one of the planet’s most beloved staples, and reminds us that everyday people often make history in unforgettable ways that continue to shape our lives centuries later.

Feeding the People will be available June 2020. Visit or search on Amazon to order your copy.