Thursday, November 11, 2010

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Food for modern man

Over the past 2000 years there have been substantial increases not only in the quantity but also in the quality of the food available to man. Early inventions such as new forms of plough enabled the cultivation of virgin lands, and practices such as crop rotation, which allowed soil to become reinvigorated between plantings, significantly increased food production. The mechanization of seed planting, harvesting, and threshing during the Industrial Revolution made agricultural production even more efficient.

However, this enhanced production led to a new set of problems, as it demanded innovative storage techniques and improved transport capabilities to avoid the produce spoiling before it was consumed. Salting and smoking had long been known as methods for preserving foods over extended periods of time. Canning was perfected in the early 1800s and quickly became popular as a convenient, cheap, and safe method of conserving pre-cooked food. Chilling or freezing was originally only available as a method of food preservation to those with a ready supply of ice. However, with the invention of ice-making machines in the 1830s, ice became widely available, and fresh fruit, meat, and fish could be conserved. Finally, the advent of fast and refrigerated transportation enabled fresh foods to be delivered in their original form to consumers around the world.

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