Reading this book brought to mind John Walton's Fish and Chips and the British Working Class, 1870–1940 (1992), one of the first books in food history and one that has remained a touchstone in the field. Like Walton, Rioux places working-class people and work at the center not only of the history of food but also of the tectonic shifts in capitalism and the relationship between capital and labor. Where Walton's book drilled down into everyday communities and family diets, Rioux takes a wide view of the transformations in global food distribution and their impacts on working-class food practices from market to table. Changes in distribution, he argues, point to an understudied aspect of political economy but one that was central to understanding capital accumulation. In particular, he says, the urban industrial world, fueled by imports of colonial agricultural commodities, created the need for a “food-related underclass” in domestic as...

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