Self Help

Edible Economics - Ha-Joon Chang

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Matheus Puppe

· 34 min read

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  • Garlic is deeply ingrained in Korean culture and cuisine. Koreans consume huge amounts of garlic - around 7.5kg per person per year. This dwarfs the consumption of famously garlic-loving countries like Italy and France.

  • The story of garlic is linked to the mythical founding of Korea by Hwanoong. According to legend, a bear and a tiger were given the chance to become human by living in a cave for 100 days eating only garlic and leaves. The tiger gave up but the bear persevered and became a woman who later married Hwanoong.

  • When the author Ha-Joon Chang left Korea for the first time in 1986 to study in Cambridge, he realized how much garlic Koreans consume compared to the British, who view garlic as an exotic and even suspicious ingredient.

  • The book aims to use different foods to reveal insights into economics and challenge ingrained assumptions. Just as the Koreans’ love of garlic contrasts with British suspicion of it, the book will use examples from around the world to shake up established economic thinking.

The author moved from Korea to Britain in 1982, which was an extremely long trip at the time. Flights from Korea could not fly over communist countries, so he flew to Alaska, then Europe, before finally reaching London - a 24 hour journey.

Upon arriving in Britain, the author experienced intense culture shock, especially regarding the food. British cuisine was very conservative and bland compared to Korean food. Ingredients like garlic were viewed with skepticism. The author struggled to eat British food and missed the flavors of home.

Over time, the author’s knowledge of cuisine expanded as foreign influences reached Britain and a food revolution took hold. However, the author’s own cooking skills lagged behind his growing food knowledge. It was not until after getting married in 1993 that the author began cooking in earnest to try new dishes. Through authors like Claudia Roden, the author’s cooking improved and he learned to make foods from around the world. Despite early difficulties adjusting to British food, the author came to appreciate diverse international cuisines.

  • I learned many great British recipes, especially from famous chefs like Delia Smith, Nigel Slater, and Nigella Lawson. I rarely cook Korean food, since my wife Hee-Jeong is an excellent Korean cook.

  • In the 1990s, Britain had a culinary revolution and acknowledged that its traditional food was not good. This allowed Brits to embrace cuisines from around the world without bias. Now London offers diverse and high quality global cuisine.

  • In contrast, economics has become dominated by neoclassical economics since the 1980s, reducing the diversity of perspectives. This intellectual narrowing impacts policy, human behavior and values, industrialization and society.

  • Economics influences who we are by shaping human nature assumptions and by affecting how society develops. Different economic theories have different boundaries on what counts as economics.

  • Economics matters because it impacts inequality, rights, cooperation and conflict. Diverse economic perspectives are needed, just as diverse cuisines are celebrated.

  • Acorn, the nut of the oak tree, is not typically considered a choice food. Some Native Americans and Japanese have eaten it out of necessity when lacking finer sources of carbohydrates.

  • Koreans eat acorns by making a savory jelly called dotori mook, which has a nutty and slightly bitter taste that is brought out by the salty and sharp yangnyum ganjang sauce. The author enjoys eating dotori mook.

  • Acorn is transformed into a delicacy when fed to Ibérico pigs in Spain, whose legs are used to make jamón Ibérico ham. The finest quality jamón Ibérico de bellota comes from free-range pigs that eat only acorns, resulting in a deep nutty flavor.

  • The author considers jamón Ibérico to be the world’s best ham, even better than the renowned prosciutto di Parma from Italy. Ham is central to Spanish culture and identity.

  • The main point is that something considered a lowly food like the acorn can be elevated into an elite delicacy through particular cultures and food production processes, as seen in the cases of Korean dotori mook and Spanish jamón Ibérico. Even unremarkable ingredients can become highly prized foods.

  • Pork became a symbol of Christian identity in Spain, as Christians distinguished themselves from Muslims and Jews by eating it. Converted Jews were forced to eat pork to prove they had genuinely converted.

  • The Spanish Inquisition used the lack of chimney smoke on Saturdays as evidence that suspected Jews were still observing the Sabbath and hadn’t truly converted.

  • The Ottoman Empire was more tolerant of religious minorities like Jews compared to Spain. Jews expelled from Spain fled to the Ottoman Empire.

  • Negative stereotypes of Islam as militaristic, uninterested in science, and lacking social mobility are inaccurate. Islam has positively influenced scientific advancement, commerce, contract law, and social mobility.

  • Cultural stereotyping, whether positive or negative, often misses the true causes of a society’s socio-economic outcomes. Confucianism has been positively stereotyped as encouraging hard work and education, but this ignores conflicting historical accounts and other cultural elements.

  • The summary focuses on the use of pork as a symbol in Spain, religious tolerance in the Ottoman Empire versus Spain, dispelling stereotypes about Islam, and problems with cultural stereotyping in general.

  • Okra originated in Northeast Africa and spread to other regions like the Middle East, South Asia, and the Americas through the slave trade.

  • The author first encountered okra in a South Asian restaurant in the UK, where it was served as bhindi bhaji (“sautéed lady fingers”). He did not initially like the slimy texture.

  • His appreciation for okra grew after having it prepared in other styles, like tempura in Japan and in gumbo, a Southern American stew where okra is a key ingredient.

  • Okra was brought to the Americas by enslaved Africans along with other crops like rice, bananas, and black-eyed peas. The names “okra” and “gumbo” come from African languages.

  • The large-scale enslavement of Africans supplied cheap labor that enabled European capitalist countries and the US to access resources like gold, silver, and cotton to fuel economic growth. Over 12 million Africans were enslaved, with at least 2 million dying in the process.

  • The author argues the US could not have become an economic superpower without the labor of enslaved Africans and their descendants.

  • Enslaved Africans provided critical labor and capital that allowed the US economy to develop in the 19th century. Cotton and tobacco accounted for a large share of US exports. Slaves were also used as collateral for loans that financed economic growth.

  • The Haitian revolution led France to sell the Louisiana Territory to the US in 1803, doubling the size of the country. This enabled westward expansion to the Pacific and made the US a continental power.

  • Slavery formally ended in the US in 1865 after the Civil War, though unfree labor continued for decades after through indentured servitude.

  • Advocates of free markets often prize economic freedom, especially for property owners, over other freedoms. But capitalism has become more humane as limits have been placed on proprietors’ economic freedoms.

  • The story of okra connects the history of slavery and economic development in the US, showing how they were interdependent. Unfree labor was critical to early US economic growth despite claims that capitalism equals freedom.

Here is a summary of the key points about coconuts:

  • Coconuts symbolize the bounty and richness of the tropics in many people’s minds, as evidenced by the imagery used for products like Bounty chocolate bars.

  • However, there is a common misconception that people in tropical countries are poor because they lack a work ethic, preferring to lie around waiting for coconuts to fall rather than working hard.

  • In reality, this is a false stereotype. People in poor tropical countries actually work much harder than those in rich countries - they have higher labor force participation rates, and children often work instead of attending school.

  • Coconuts are extremely versatile and useful plants that provide food, water, oil, fiber, charcoal, and more. They were likely the first vegetable oil used in British fish and chip shops started by Jewish immigrants.

  • The author’s appreciation for coconuts grew over time after encountering them in delicious drinks like piña coladas and southeast Asian curries cooked with coconut milk. Coconuts symbolize the tropics’ bounty, but the “lazy native” stereotype suggesting that leads to poverty is simply untrue.

  • Anchovy is a small fish that has had an outsized impact on many food cultures around the world, including in Asia, the Mediterranean, and beyond.

  • It is eaten in many forms - dried, fried, cured in oil, etc. Anchovies are used in pasta sauces, spreads, soups, and more.

  • But the most important use of anchovies across cultures is to make fermented fish sauces like garum, nuoc mam, nam pla, and myulchi-jut. These sauces provide essential umami flavor.

  • Anchovies were the basis for economic prosperity in 19th century Peru, not because Peru exported anchovies, but because anchovies nourished the seabird guano that was a prized fertilizer export.

  • The guano was from islands off the Peruvian coast that had massive seabird populations due to the anchovies and other small fish they fed on upwelling from the Humboldt ocean current.

  • This story illustrates how small fish like anchovies can have an outsized impact on human prosperity by supporting complex ecosystems. Overfishing anchovies can undermine these ecosystems.

  • Peruvian bird guano was a highly valued fertilizer in the 19th century, made from the excrement of seabirds that fed on anchovies. It fueled economic prosperity in Peru for a time.

  • Germany’s development of synthetic fertilizers like the Haber-Bosch process made from nitrogen in the air eventually replaced guano and other natural fertilizers like Chilean saltpeter. This demonstrates how technological capabilities can overcome limitations imposed by lack of natural resources.

  • Similar examples include German synthetic dyes replacing natural dyes from cochineal and indigo, and synthetic rubber hurting Malaysian natural rubber exports. Technological innovation allowed industrialized nations to create substitutes and undermine commodity exporters.

  • Industrialization and the development of manufacturing bolsters innovation and technological capabilities. The Netherlands and Japan overcame lack of land and fuel resources respectively through advanced technologies like greenhouse farming and fuel efficiency.

  • Sustainable high living standards come from industrialization and technological capabilities, not reliance on limited or easily replicated primary commodities. Capabilities do not run out like commodities.

Here is a summary of the key points about prawns/shrimp in the passage:

  • Prawns and shrimp were thought to be different names for the same thing, but they are actually different species with some anatomical differences.

  • Crustaceans like prawns and shrimp are delicious prepared in many different ways around the world - fried, barbecued, wok-fried, etc.

  • Prawn/shrimp farming has caused extensive destruction of valuable mangrove forests, especially in Thailand, Vietnam, and China.

  • It’s curious that many people find eating insects disgusting but will happily eat prawns/shrimp, since both are arthropods.

  • Insects require far fewer resources and cause less environmental damage than other livestock like beef when farmed for food.

  • The author proposes calling insects things like “bush prawns” or “field langoustines” to make them more appealing.

  • The author reminisces about eating boiled silkworm pupae called bun-de-gi as a cheap snack food in Korea due to the silk industry.

  • Japan became a major silk producer but shifted to promoting other industries like cars through protectionist policies, despite criticisms.

  • South Koreans consume a huge amount of instant noodles, with 79.7 servings per person per year - the highest rate in the world. This adds up to around 4.1 billion servings annually in South Korea.

  • Koreans eat many different types of noodles beyond instant noodles, including wheat noodles, buckwheat noodles, and noodles made from sweet potato and other starches. Popular noodle dishes include jajangmyeon (noodles with black bean sauce), naengmyeon (cold noodles), and japchae (stir-fried glass noodles).

  • Korea has a limited range of noodle shapes compared to a country like Italy. The author was surprised to discover the variety of pasta shapes in Italy, beyond just spaghetti and macaroni.

  • Korea did not traditionally make noodles from rice, despite rice being the main grain, perhaps because rice was too precious. But rice noodles like pho and pad thai have become popular recently.

  • Korea turns many grains and tubers into noodles, including wheat, buckwheat, sweet potato, potato, sweetcorn, cassava, acorn, arrowroot, and barley. But the main noodle shapes are strips or strings.

  • Like kimchi with vegetables, Koreans make noodles out of almost any grain or tuber into gooksoo. This reflects Korea’s creativity and flexibility with carbohydrate sources.

  • Orilguksu is a Korean soup containing a small, grain-shaped pasta that looks like rice. The author was surprised to learn it was actually a pasta dish.

  • Italy has created over 200 varieties of pasta by varying the shape, including strings, tubes, spirals, shells, etc. Voiello pasta company commissioned famous car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro to create an innovative pasta shape called Marille in the 1980s, but it failed commercially.

  • Giugiaro has had a very successful career designing cars, including early on the Hyundai Pony.

  • Hyundai Motor Company started small but grew incredibly fast to become one of the biggest carmakers in the world by the 2000s.

  • Important factors in Hyundai’s success were the visionary leadership of the Chung brothers, the hard work of employees, government protections and support that allowed the company to grow, and cross-subsidization from the larger Hyundai group.

  • Hyundai’s story demonstrates that spectacular business success often depends not just on individual entrepreneurship but also dedicated workers, government policy, and resource sharing from related companies. Other Korean and Japanese companies like Samsung and Toyota have risen in similar ways.

Here is a summary of the key points about carrot cake:

  • Carrot cake was strange and unfamiliar to the author when they first encountered it in Britain, as carrots were seen as a savory vegetable in the author’s native Korea, not an ingredient for desserts.

  • Carrots originated in Central Asia and were first grown in white, purple, and yellow varieties. The now common orange carrot was developed in the 17th century in the Netherlands.

  • The orange color comes from beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. So orange carrots provided an extra nutritional benefit over earlier varieties.

  • In 2000, scientists inserted genes to bio-synthesize beta-carotene into rice, creating “Golden Rice” rich in vitamin A. This could help prevent vitamin A deficiency that affects millions in rice-eating developing countries.

  • The scientists sold the Golden Rice technology to the agribusiness company Syngenta, though they negotiated for poorer farmers to get it for free. Some criticized the privatization of such an important public health technology.

  • The essay explores how the story of the orange carrot’s development touches on politics, nutrition, science, and business. Foods we take for granted often have surprising histories.

  • The issue of patenting in biotechnology is illustrated by the case of Golden Rice, genetically modified to have high vitamin A content. Scientists transferred the intellectual property to a profit-making firm as they did not have the capacity to negotiate and pay for licensing the many patents involved themselves.

  • Critics argued only around 30 patents were critical, but the issue remains that too many interlocking patents can hamper innovation. This problem has worsened as more minute pieces of knowledge get patented.

  • Possible solutions include shortening patent terms, using the prize system to incentivize innovation while releasing knowledge into the public domain quicker, and forcing patent-holders to license technologies for public purpose at reduced prices.

  • Ultimately, the patent system’s costs and benefits must be weighed. If the costs outweigh the benefits, as may be happening with so many interlocking patents, the system should be modified even if controversial at first. The goal is to balance incentives for innovation with making knowledge accessible for further innovation.

  • Uruguay has excelled in several areas beyond just football, including political/civic rights and beef production. It was the first Latin American country to grant women divorce rights and voting rights. It is the world’s top cattle producer per capita and the first to make all cattle traceable.

  • In the mid-1800s, a German engineer in Uruguay named Georg Giebert proposed producing Justus von Liebig’s beef extract there, since beef was very cheap. This led to the establishment of the Liebig Extract of Meat Company (LEMCO) in Fray Bentos, Uruguay in 1865.

  • LEMCO pioneered mass production of beef extract, later called Oxo cubes, and canned corned beef. These became staples for the working class and troops, providing cheap, convenient meat.

  • “Corned beef” refers to beef cured with grains (“corns”) of salt. The old British meaning of “corn” was grain of any type, not just maize.

  • The controversial Corn Laws imposed tariffs/bans on cheaper foreign grain imports to Britain starting in 1815. They were repealed in 1846 after much opposition, ushering in an era of free trade and limited government in Britain.

  • However, Latin American countries actually adopted free trade decades before Britain, contradicting the myth that Britain pioneered free trade.

  • Uruguay has achieved remarkable football success despite its small population. This is attributed to a strong football culture and investment in youth training.

  • Beef exports were central to Uruguay’s economic development in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Refrigeration technology allowed beef to be exported long distances.

  • Britain was instrumental in developing Uruguay’s beef industry and securing export markets. British companies like Liebig’s Extract of Meat Company (LEMCO) led Uruguay’s beef boom.

  • In the 19th century, Britain and other European powers forced ‘free trade’ on weaker nations through unequal treaties, depriving them of tariff autonomy.

  • The US was highly protectionist between the 1830s-WW2 despite preaching free trade. True free trade among equally powerful nations only emerged after decolonization and the WTO’s formation.

  • Even in today’s trade system, more powerful countries like the US and EU have greater influence in shaping rules and leverage over weaker nations. ‘Free trade’ still favors the powerful.

  • Like beef’s outsized role in food systems, ‘freedom’ dominates thinking about economy and society. But free trade only means freedom for trading companies, not necessarily benefits for all.

Here is a summary of the key points about bananas:

  • The Elvis sandwich, consisting of peanut butter, banana, and sometimes honey or bacon, was named after Elvis Presley who was a fan of the sandwich.

  • Bananas are eaten in many different ways, including raw as a fruit, cooked as a starch or vegetable, and made into desserts or beer.

  • Bananas originated in Southeast Asia and spread to Africa at least a few centuries BCE. The Portuguese introduced bananas to the Americas as provisions on slave ships.

  • In the late 19th century, large banana companies like United Fruit Company established plantations and export operations in Central America and northern South America, gaining enormous economic and political power in those countries.

  • The banana companies were notorious for their labor abuses and support of coups against governments that tried to regulate them. One infamous example was the Banana Massacre in Colombia in 1928 when striking workers were killed.

  • Today, bananas are one of the world’s most popular and heavily traded fruits, though the banana industry continues to face criticisms over labor and environmental practices.

  • The United Fruit Company dominated Central America and northern South America between the late 19th and mid-20th centuries, leading to the term “banana republics” to describe these countries’ subservience to foreign corporations.

  • The Banana Massacre in 1928, fictionalized in One Hundred Years of Solitude, epitomized the dark side of corporate power in banana republics.

  • Multinational corporations (MNCs) can bring benefits like new technologies and industries to developing nations, but this requires government policies to ensure proper technology transfer and linkages with local firms. Otherwise, they create enclaves with little spillover to the wider economy.

  • Countries like Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China successfully used policies like joint ventures, technology transfer requirements, and local content rules to maximize benefits from MNCs. This helped them develop world-class domestic firms.

  • Even “liberal” countries like Ireland and Singapore actively courted high-tech MNC investments with customized supports, ensuring technology diffusion, not just low taxes.

  • So while MNCs can boost development, active government policy is needed to ensure the benefits are captured, not just the costs. Unregulated MNCs can still create banana republic dynamics.

Here is a summary of the key points about Coca-Cola:

  • Coca-Cola is an iconic American product that symbolizes American capitalism, with both positive and negative associations. It was seen as a symbol of freedom in the Soviet Union but also as epitomizing consumerism and commercial manipulation of tastes.

  • Coca-Cola was invented in 1885 by John Pemberton in Atlanta, originally containing coca leaf, kola nut, and wine. The alcohol was removed in 1886 and sugar and citrus oils were added, creating the non-alcoholic Coca-Cola.

  • The name comes from its original ingredients - coca leaf and kola nut. Kola nut provides caffeine and theobromine as stimulants. Coca leaf provided cocaine originally but this was removed in the early 1900s due to its addictive properties.

  • Coca-Cola became very popular in the early 20th century, was bottled from 1894, and started exporting in the 1920s. By the 1930s it had become an American icon.

  • The drink has been laden with political symbolism, being banned in India in the 1970s for refusing a joint venture but returning after liberalization in the 1990s. Marshal Zhukov of the Soviet Army had a clear version made so he could drink it without the capitalist symbolism.

  • Coca-Cola replaced kola nut with a synthetic chemical in 2016, so like a rock band with no original members left, both of Coca-Cola’s original key ingredients have now been substituted.

  • Coca-Cola was once a symbol of American capitalism and cultural influence around the world. However, it has declined in popularity in recent decades.

  • The coca plant was originally an ingredient in Coca-Cola. The leaves provide a mild stimulant and are culturally significant for indigenous Andean communities, though not addictive like cocaine.

  • Evo Morales, former president of Bolivia, championed coca farming and campaigned against Washington Consensus policies of privatization and deregulation.

  • Under Morales, Bolivia saw reduced inequality and accelerated economic growth, defying predictions.

  • In the 1990s-2000s, left-leaning “Pink Tide” governments came to power across Latin America and rolled back neoliberal policies. This led to more equality and faster growth, with some exceptions.

  • After a period of swing back towards the right, leftist governments are again gaining power in Latin America. Chile’s election of Gabriel Boric in 2021 was symbolic, as Chile was an early adopter of neoliberalism.

  • Neoliberal policies have generally not served developing countries well, though they have been less rejected in Asia and Africa. The policies are now fading from prominence as their failure to benefit developing nations becomes clear.

Here is a summary of the key points about rye in the passage:

  • Rye is a grain that the author, Ha-Joon Chang, first learned about through the Agatha Christie detective novel A Pocket Full of Rye. He was intrigued by what rye was, having never encountered it in Korea.

  • Once in Britain for graduate studies, Chang tried rye for the first time in the form of Ryvita crispbread. He enjoyed the nutty, slightly sour taste of rye. He also grew to love various rye breads, especially lighter ones with caraway seeds.

  • Rye originates from modern-day Turkey but is symbolic of Northern European food cultures. Russia is the largest consumer of rye. Poland has the highest per capita consumption and is the biggest exporter. Germany is the world’s largest producer of rye.

  • Rye was key in Otto von Bismarck’s political alliance between Junker nobility and heavy industry capitalists in 1879, known as the “marriage of iron and rye.” Bismarck protected rye producers through tariffs on cheap American grains in exchange for Junker acceptance of tariff protections for heavy industries like iron and steel.

  • This “marriage” propelled Germany’s economic growth, allowing its heavy industries to catch up to Britain’s, despite higher food prices. Rye thus played a key role in Germany’s successful industrialization.

Here is a summary of the key points about the development of German heavy industries and the establishment of the welfare state:

  • After unifying Germany in 1871, Bismarck introduced welfare programs like workers’ accident insurance (1884), health insurance (1883), and pensions (1889) to protect workers and ward off the appeal of socialism. This established the first welfare state.

  • Bismarck did this to maintain stability and prevent the spread of socialism, not out of ideological support for welfare. At the same time, he suppressed socialist groups with anti-socialist laws.

  • The welfare state provides social insurance collectively purchased by citizens. It is not just about redistributing income to the poor through “free stuff” paid by the rich. Everyone pays into and benefits from welfare programs.

  • The welfare state originated in Germany but spread across Europe after WWII as governments recognized its role in providing security and stability. Spending on welfare grew from 1-2% of GDP in the 1930s to around 20% today in rich countries.

  • Bismarck was able to build the welfare state by creating a political alliance between Prussian landowners and heavy industry, called the “marriage of iron and rye.” Protecting rye production allowed him to gain the support of Junker elites.

  • Chicken is a popular and versatile source of protein around the world, prepared in endless ways (fried, roasted, grilled, etc). This likely owes to its mild taste, small size, and ease of cooking.

  • Airlines often serve chicken as an in-flight meal to cater to diverse culinary preferences and dietary restrictions. The narrator gives an anecdote about Aeroflot only serving chicken to uphold an extreme version of socialist equality.

  • Socialists believe in equal treatment and provisions for all as an indictment of inequality in capitalist societies. However, treating everyone identically fails to recognize diverse needs and can be fundamentally unfair (e.g. giving wheat bread to those with celiac disease).

  • Free market advocates believe letting the market determine rewards leads to fairness, as people are paid according to their economic contributions. However, true equality of opportunity is a precondition, which no society has yet achieved due to lingering discrimination.

  • Even with equal opportunity, differences in innate talents and privileges from birth mean the “competition” is not truly fair. A smart child born in poverty has less chance of success than a mediocre one born to wealthy parents.

  • Pure equality of outcomes is also problematic, suppressing incentives. But some inequality stemming from sheer luck is indefensible. We must strike a balance between rewarding effort/skill and correcting for arbitrary inequalities.

  • Chilli’s hot, spicy flavor scares some people, but is beloved in parts of the world like Mexico, South Asia, and Korea.

  • The heat of chilli is not a true taste but a chemical trick - capsaicin fools our brains into thinking our bodies are being damaged.

  • Scoville scale measures chilli heat by diluting chilli in sugary water until tasters can’t detect the heat. More dilution = more heat.

  • Restaurants use chilli symbols to denote spiciness of dishes as a guide for customers.

  • The author often craves very spicy food due to his Korean heritage, but moderates spice level when dining with less chilli-accustomed friends.

  • Once at a Sichuan restaurant, the author’s friend Duncan ordered a “no chilli” dish but it arrived loaded with whole chillies, as the restaurant’s chilli symbols denoted only added chilli, not total chilli content.

In summary, chilli’s heat is a tricky chemical sensation, spiciness is beloved in some cuisines but feared in others, and misunderstandings about chilli symbols on menus can lead to unexpectedly spicy surprises.

  • Unpaid care work, such as household chores and childcare, is not counted in economic statistics like GDP. This renders a huge chunk of (mostly) women’s work invisible and undervalues their economic contribution.

  • Not counting unpaid work reinforces the false notion that stay-at-home mothers “do nothing”. Terms like “working mothers” wrongly imply that mothers at home don’t work.

  • The undervaluation of unpaid work has material consequences, like lower pensions for women who spend less time in paid work.

  • Even paid care work, like nursing, childcare, and elderly care, is undervalued relative to its social contribution. Care workers are poorly paid despite their “essential” status, especially women of color.

  • Reasons include the gendered nature of care work and the fact that market valuation is based on willingness to pay rather than social need. Essential services for lower income groups are undervalued.

  • We need to change perspectives to properly value care work, change practices to reduce gender inequality, and implement institutional changes like paid care leave and higher minimum wages for care workers.

  • The British Empire was the largest in history and its naval supremacy was key to controlling such a vast territory.

  • The Royal Navy’s adoption of lime juice to prevent scurvy amongst sailors gave it a critical advantage over rival navies in the 18th and 19th centuries. This allowed Britain to expand and defend its empire.

  • Lime became strongly associated with British naval and imperial power, leading to the term “limeys” for British sailors and later all Brits.

  • Lime is also a symbol of national identity for Brazil, as a key ingredient in the national drink caipirinha, made from lime, sugar cane liquor cachaça, and sugar.

  • Brazil has a history of using its abundant sugar cane to produce ethanol fuel. An ambitious program after the 1970s oil crisis promoted ethanol as a petroleum substitute.

  • The British Empire’s success owed to many factors, but the navy’s ability to stay healthy at sea through lime juice gave it a crucial edge in establishing naval supremacy and the largest empire in history. Lime became embodied in different national identities and practices.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • The world is already experiencing the impacts of climate change, including melting polar ice, rising sea levels, more extreme weather events, and mass extinction of species. If greenhouse gas emissions are not drastically reduced soon, humanity faces an existential threat in coming decades.

  • New technologies are needed to generate energy without greenhouse gas emissions, store renewable electricity, produce materials like steel and plastic with less fossil fuels, and help societies adapt to climate change impacts.

  • Changes are also needed in how we live, especially in rich countries - driving less, using energy more efficiently in buildings, and eating less meat and more seasonal food.

  • But technology changes and lifestyle adjustments alone are not enough. Large-scale public action by governments and international organizations is essential.

  • Governments need to promote ‘green’ technologies since companies alone will not invest enough due to focus on short-term returns. Public action is needed to develop technologies for poorer countries too.

  • Government policies also enable individual lifestyle changes by making pro-environmental choices affordable and setting standards, rather than relying just on consumer choices.

  • In summary, dealing with climate change requires major technological innovations, changes in lifestyles, and concerted public action at scale. Market incentives and individual efforts alone will not suffice.

  • The author did not initially like South Asian cuisine, finding it lacked “body” and umami flavor compared to other cuisines. Over time she grew to appreciate and love the complex flavors and aromas from the array of spices used.

  • Spices like black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg were historically prized in Europe but originally only grew in South Asia and Southeast Asia. The search for spices was a major driver of European exploration and colonization.

  • The risky nature of the spice trade led to the development of the joint stock company and the concept of limited liability to incentivize investors. The English and Dutch East India companies were early examples that helped popularize this business structure.

  • Limited liability protects investors by capping their losses to the amount they invested, enabling more capital to be raised for risky ventures. This was critical for organizing large-scale spice expeditions.

  • Some like Adam Smith criticized limited liability for promoting excessive risk-taking since managers are not personally liable, but it enabled more capital mobilization than unlimited liability. The author notes Karl Marx saw it as a hallmark of advanced capitalism.

  • The author has become a “spice fiend,” generously using spices like black pepper, cloves, and coriander in dishes across cuisines. She sees their historical scarcity in Korea as why they were not traditionally used in Korean cuisine.

Here is a summary of the key points about strawberries:

  • Strawberry is not technically a berry according to botanical definitions, though it is considered the quintessential berry fruit.

  • Strawberries are very versatile - eaten fresh, made into jams and jellies, and used in desserts like ice cream, cakes, and tarts. They are one of the most beloved fruits worldwide.

  • Strawberry jam is particularly iconic, being spread on toast or incorporated into pastries.

  • Strawberry has a very short growing season and requires a lot of labor to harvest, as the fruits are hidden and delicate. This makes strawberries potentially expensive.

  • In places like California, cheap immigrant labor, especially from Mexico, has been crucial to keeping strawberry production costs down and meeting high demand.

  • The need for cheap harvest labor has led to problematic conditions for immigrant workers, including health risks from pesticide exposure, poor living conditions, and lack of labor protections.

  • Reforming labor practices in the strawberry industry is an important issue, to ensure worker safety and dignity. Creative solutions like engineering easier-to-pick strawberry varieties could also help.

  • Ultimately, consumers may need to accept higher prices for strawberries, if it means workers are treated fairly. This reflects the true costs of producing the beloved fruit sustainably and ethically.

  • Many agricultural workers in California are Mexican immigrants, including many undocumented workers who are exploited and work in poor conditions picking strawberries.

  • Strawberry picking is difficult manual labor that has resisted automation, but new robot pickers are being developed that can replace human workers.

  • There is a widespread fear that automation and AI will lead to mass unemployment in the future. However, automation also creates new jobs and economic growth that leads to new job creation.

  • Throughout history, automation has destroyed some jobs but overall has not reduced employment. New jobs are created directly in producing and servicing automated technology, indirectly through economic growth, and through policy measures.

  • It is impossible to predict the exact impact of automation, but the experience of the last 250 years suggests it does not necessarily reduce overall employment.

  • However, automation can have devastating impacts on particular workers and communities. Displaced workers need government support for retraining and job search to transition to new employment.

  • Automation is not inherently a ‘job destroyer’ but its impacts need to be carefully managed through policy to support displaced workers.

Here is a summary of the key points about chocolate from the passage:

  • The author has been addicted to chocolate since childhood, starting with smuggled-in M&M’s in South Korea in the 1960s.

  • The author enjoys chocolate in all its forms, from luxury chocolates to mass-market chocolate bars and cookies. Favorites include peanut varieties, chocolate with orange, and chocolate baked goods.

  • Chocolate originates from the cacao tree in Mesoamerica. The Aztecs prized cacao beans and used them as currency.

  • The Spanish brought chocolate back from Mexico in the 16th century. It started as a drink in Europe.

  • The first chocolate bar was created by Fry’s of Bristol in 1847, using dark chocolate. Milk chocolate bars came later once the mildew problem was solved by Swiss inventors.

  • The passage expresses the author’s lifelong love of and addiction to chocolate in its many varieties and forms.

  • Switzerland is often seen as a model post-industrial economy focused on services like banking and tourism rather than manufacturing.

  • However, this perception is mistaken - Switzerland is actually the most industrialized economy in the world on a per capita basis, specializing in high-end manufactured goods like machines and chemicals.

  • The decline of manufacturing’s importance in countries like the US and UK is mainly due to rapid productivity growth in manufacturing rather than a shift in demand towards services.

  • Manufacturing remains crucial for innovation and many high-productivity services depend on the manufacturing sector.

  • The myth of post-industrialism led the US and UK to neglect manufacturing. This contributed to problems like the 2008 financial crisis and secular stagnation.

  • Switzerland’s economic success is based on having the world’s strongest manufacturing sector, not on services like banking and tourism as is commonly believed. The example of Switzerland shows the discourse of post-industrialism is misleading.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • The author has used food stories to discuss various economic issues, describing the histories, symbolism, and cooking methods of different foods.

  • These food journeys have led to discussions of diverse economic topics in sometimes unorthodox ways.

  • The author hopes readers will learn to critically engage with economics, forming their own ideas about sourcing economic “ingredients”, combining theories, and generating new ideas.

  • Four pieces of advice are offered: have a varied theoretical diet, be open-minded, check the provenance of facts/assumptions, and use imagination to rethink sacred ingredients and combine different perspectives.

  • The author encourages readers to find their own ways to understand and change the economy, just as people must figure out how to eat better for themselves, others, and the planet.

  • The book has a long history, originally conceived after the author’s first non-academic book in 2006. Other writing priorities delayed it over the years, but the core idea remained.

  • Ha-Joon Chang had the initial idea for this book back in 2007, but it took over a decade to fully develop due to other commitments.

  • The editor of the Weekend Magazine, Caroline Daniel, gave Chang the opportunity to publish some early chapter seeds as articles, providing helpful feedback.

  • Literary agent Ivan Mulcahy pushed Chang to create a clearer conceptual framework for the book, leading to the development of the ‘Garlic’ chapter.

  • Editors Laura Stickney and Clive Priddle helped shape the book into something more innovative.

  • Friends like Jonathan Aldred, Duncan Green, and Pedro Mendes Loureiro read draft chapters over the years, giving crucial feedback.

  • Young researchers provided important background research and fact-checking.

  • Family members, especially his wife Hee-Jeong, inspired and informed the food stories and discussions.

  • Overall, the book had a long gestation, benefiting from feedback over many years from editors, researchers, and people close to Chang. He thanks all those who supported the book’s decade-plus journey to publication.

Here is a summary of key points from chapter 1 of Celebration by Schlosberg and Coles:

  • The modern food system is highly industrialized and globalized, disconnecting people from the sources of their food. This has negative impacts on health, environment, and community.

  • Industrial agriculture relies on monocultures, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, concentrated animal feeding operations, and long-distance transportation. This damages soil, water, and biodiversity.

  • A few corporations control the system, maximizing profits over other concerns. Farmers get squeezed while consumers lack choices.

  • Alternatives like local, organic, cooperative models reconnect producers and consumers, rebuild community, protect environment. They offer examples of a better system.

  • Change requires political action, not just individual consumer choices. Need social movements to reform policies and power structures.

  • Possible solutions include breaking up agricultural monopolies, subsidies for sustainable farmers, local food networks, integrating health/nutrition into agriculture policy.

  • Ultimately the food system needs to shift from extractive corporate model to a democratic, sustainable model meeting everyone’s needs, not just profit. This will require deep changes but offers hope for the future.

Here is a summary of the key points from the excerpt:

  • The Anti-Corn Law League was a free trade advocacy group formed in 1838 to campaign against British corn laws that restricted grain imports. It played a major role in the repeal of the corn laws in 1846.

  • The repeal of the corn laws was a complex process involving economic interests, ideas, and institutions. It split the Conservative Party and weakened it for decades.

  • Free trade policies became dominant in the late 19th century, but were enabled by imperialism and colonization which forced open markets abroad.

  • Developed countries extensively used protectionist policies when they were building their economies in the 18th-19th centuries. Forced free trade was hypocritical.

  • Many former colonies remain commodity exporters, indicating failure to develop more diverse economies due to lack of protective policies.

  • Some modern industries like semi-conductors required state protections and subsidies in the U.S. and East Asia before becoming globally competitive.

  • The kola nut, indigenous to Africa, was an essential ingredient in Coca-Cola, which built a global empire from this appropriated tradition.

  • Alternative economic metrics beyond GDP should account for unpaid domestic labor and care work, predominantly done by women. Addressing gender inequality requires rethinking assumptions about labor and economic value.

Thank you for the summary request. Here are the key points about the largest empire by population in history:

  • The largest empire in history by population was the British Empire. At its peak in the early 20th century, it had a population of around 500 million people.

  • This was over 10 times the population of Britain itself, which was around 46 million in 1938.

  • The vast size of the British Empire was built on conquest and colonization around the world over several centuries. This included large parts of Africa, Asia, North America, and Oceania.

  • Managing an empire of this size required impressive organizational capacity by the British. Examples include the Royal Navy defeating scurvy by providing citrus fruits, and Britain’s textile industry importing cotton from its colonies.

  • The imperial system involved brutal exploitation in many cases, such as the Atlantic slave trade. However, it also facilitated the global spread of people, ideas, institutions and technologies.

  • The independence of Britain’s colonies in the 20th century led to the dismantling of its vast empire and drastically reduced its population. The empire declined due to growing anti-colonial movements and Britain’s weakened position after WW2.

In summary, the British Empire was unprecedented in having around 500 million people under its rule by the early 20th century, over 10 times the population of Britain itself. This reflected Britain’s dominance globally for several centuries until the independence of its colonies led to the empire’s dissolution.

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