"The History of Food"

I decided to be a little "off the wall" with this particular Publisher's message for one of our annual Food & Dining issues. I hope you enjoy it...

With this issue devoted to local foods and recipes, I felt it was only appropriate to review with you the entire history of food from the dawn of man to the present in a hundred words or less. We really don't reflect on this as much as we should, especially in view of the fact that wars have even been fought and entire populations relocated over the need for food. The following is not based on any scientific research, but as you read it you will know I'm right...

Primitive man had to eat to survive. Wild animals and danger certainly made eating an adventure, and the food much appreciated when shared with others. It was even OK to throw food on the floor.

Soon man discovered grains and began cultivating plants and raising animals for food. Health food fanatics pushed the growing of fruits. Children were first sent to bed at this time for not eating their vegetables.

It was discovered that certain people were better at gardening than others. These folks became farmers, selling their foods to dummies like me who didn't have green thumbs. The "farmers market" was born!

As people traveled, they needed to eat. Some people ate "fast foods" from street vendors. Others went to the first "restaurants," where they could sit and actually order food from a "menu," unless it was in French, in which case they just pointed and hoped for the best.

Transportation improved and people traveled even farther from home. They wanted some of the unique foods they had eaten elsewhere. Soon food was being sent all over the place in packages and bottles, and restaurants featuring ethnic specialties opened. The first Taco Bell opened in Nairobi!

As people prospered, dining out became popular. Guys took girls out for romantic dinners, got married, and then tried to prevent their kids from having food fights at the table. Rich people showed their wealth by paying big bucks to eat fancy foods served in small portions on big plates by snooty waiters.

The television brought us TV dinners and, as we all got busier, the modern "fast food" restaurants were born. I still remember the first McDonald's in Lancaster...the golden arches and over 43 hamburgers sold!

We've learned to irrigate, process, freeze, microwave, etc. Whole businesses have been founded around single foods, like ice cream and coffee. World travelers return to dazzle us with their gross food stories. "I can't believe you actually ate that!" And men have returned to the primitive practice of cooking meat over an open flame as their ancestors did. Of course, they wear aprons now.

So there you have it, thousands of years in a nutshell. Amazing, isn't it?

Much of what happens in our lives combines social and religious activities with food. The Amish do it on a grand scale sometimes, such as at Amish weddings. The rest of us do it in our own distinctive ways, too. Today, our biggest challenge is often trying to get the entire family to actually sit down and eat TOGETHER. So as you visit our area, enjoy eating with your family and friends, but also introduce yourself to strangers. Be brave and try something new. Feel free to sample our typical foods, explore our ethnic restaurants, or stop by a roadside stand. And remember, you’re not allowed to go home until you try some shoo-fly pie!

Amish Country News Publisher's Message by Brad Igou (2001)


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