In Combat Ready Kitchen , Anastacia Marx de Salcedo traces the history of food preservation from an american point of view, and demonstrates the co-development of combat rations and modern U.S. supermarket food.
The book takes us through the history of U.S. combat rations, from before the invention of the tin can, through canned, better preserved, but incredibly heavy food to what soldiers have today. It shows how these military innovations have been seeded, purposefully, into the civilian food industry, in order to enable the military to source food from civilian companies for their purposes, in formats that suit them. This also had influence on how the industry preserves food for civilian consumption and enabled a multitude of convenience foods.
While the development of food preservation for military and civilian needs was somewhat systematic, the book is not. It goes through the history not chronologically, but anecdotally, roughly ordered by kind of food, but with plenty of sidelines, side stories and other distractions. It still is an entertaining read, but it makes it hard to put down the book and take stock of what you just learned.
One thing I took away is that food preservation as we understand it today is much more recent than most people think. It is a thing humanity only learned in the late 80ies and early 90ies, and even today fundamental progress is being made. Also, a lot of the stuff we do is not actually bad for the food, the nutrients or the taste, it is in fact perfectly fine. Still, other things amount to basically breaking down the food to constituent parts, and then reassembling something from the parts, and that’s maybe less good, given how little we actually understand what makes a meal nourishing or healthy, even today.
Entertaining and interesting, but structured in a way that makes it harder than necessary for me to pull value out of it.
“Combat Ready Kitchen: How the U.S. Military Shapes The Way You Eat ”, Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, EUR 5.25.