from the Introduction:
Practicing history helps to cultivate a long perspective. It can be a counterbalance to claims that things have never been this bad before, that a given situation is unprecedented, that the entire future is at stake—for a culture, a nation, humanity or the planet itself—if some particular course of action is not taken immediately. Explorers of history tend to gain a sense of the human past and present as a long series of adaptations, course-corrections, unintended consequences, complex encounters and equally complex compromises, in which occasional outright disasters and dramatic shifts are the exception rather than the rule, and in which predictions of doom have a cyclical history of their own. These are habits of mind that favor slowness, careful reflection, and a reluctance to jump onto bandwagons, qualities that can be extremely valuable in thinking through any pressing challenge.
We are true believers in those values. So we’re aware of the irony of starting this book by talking about the unique urgency of the present moment. Our hope is that we can create a framework for bringing together these seemingly incompatible things—the long, slow perspective of history and the pressing need to act—and to show why food is an exceptional vehicle for bridging the gap between them.