The Landscape of Food introduces new perspectives on the social history of food by focusing on the food relationships between urban and rural areas in Europe from the late eighteenth century to the present day. The theme is approached by historians, ethnologists and geographers through a series of studies of the Netherlands, Germany, Slovenia, Switzerland, Britain, Finland, Italy, Greece and Norway.
The volume examines a multitude of aspects of the urban-rural interface, such as provisioning of cities and towns with fresh foodstuffs, urban food production, and changes in the diet. The Landscape of Food takes readers back to the nineteenth-century town with its commercial cowsheds, cattle markets, piggeries, and market gardens and its self-provisioning from allotments and backyard chicken coops and rabbit hutches. The environmental problems associated with these activities presented targets for veterinary surgeons and public health reformers.
The emergence in the twentieth century of industrial provisioning of the towns and the preservation of food, with its branded and heavily advertised goods and increasingly standardized recipes and restaurants is discussed, as is the changing role of the countryside. During the second half of the twentieth century, the provision of meals in the home is shown to have developed from the rationing and privation of the Second World War up to the heating of supermarket products in a microwave oven, while cooking, in some urban societies at least, has been reduced to a form of television entertainment. The reaction to this industrialization of the diet is also discussed, particularly in terms of the utilization of 'foods from nature'.