One morning while reading Barrons magazine, Kara Newman took note of a casual bit of advice offered by famed commodities trader Jim Rogers. Buy breakfast, he told investors, referring to the value of rising pork belly and frozen orange juice futures. The statement inspired Newman to take a closer look at agricultural commodities, from the iconic pork belly to the more obscure peppercorn and nutmeg. The results, recorded in this fascinating history, show not only how contracts listed on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange can read like a menu but also how market behavior can dictate global economic and culinary practice.Just as the Slow Food movement revolutionized the farmers relationship to the table, The Secret Life of Financial Food reveals the economic pathways connecting food to consumer, unlocking the mysteries behind culinary trends, grocery pricing, and restaurant dining. Newmans lively and compact history travels back to the markets of ancient Rome and medieval Europe, where vendors first distinguished between spot sales and sales for delivery. She retraces Asias famed spice routes and recounts the spice craze that prompted Christopher Columbuss journey to North America, and she links these developments to modern day Indias bustling peppercorn market. Newman centers her history on corn and its transformation into a ubiquitous commodity, and she uses oats, wheat, and rye to recast Americas westward expansion and the Industrial Revolution. She discusses the effects of such mega-corporations as Starbucks and McDonalds on futures markets, and she considers burgeoning markets, particularly super soybeans, which could scramble the landscape of food finance. The ingredients of American power and culture, and the making of the modern world, can be found in the history of food commodities exchange, and Newman brings this unconventional story to readers eager to understand the how and why of what they eat.
- Publication Date:
- 06 / 11 / 2012