Discuss the Social Significance of Food in Early Modern Europe

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Essay Question 3. Discuss the social significance of food in early modern Europe. This essay will discuss the social standing and significance of food in early modern Europe and explore a number of issues that affected the way Europeans viewed and regarded food. One was the religious and secular beliefs that determined and even dictated what types of food people ate. Another issue is the theory of body politic and how this affected the system of social hierarchy. Cultural and social differences also led to food prejudices with the idea of “luxury” and “base” foods and beverages based on class. We will examine the broad shifts in the diet of Europeans particularly their love affair with bread since the invention of the plough and variations according to the etiquettes of consumption. The invention of the plough was regarded as the most significant breakthrough in the development of agricultural practices in early modern European history and improved life expectancy and infant survival and is singlehandedly responsible for the tremendous population growth. This rising population brought problems as well as opportunities however the demand for food increased leading to a sharp rise in food prices especially the price of grain which increased between four and sevenfold across Europe during the period from 1450 to 1620. Merchants would seek to make the highest profit by hoarding grains and flour. The hardest hit by rising prices were those that had to buy all or most of their food especially the urban and rural poor as they did not have access to cooking facilities, this led to bread riots and other types of violence and to various events of famine during this period. Diet For most Europeans grains such as wheat, oats, barley and rye were the prime source of their nutrition. Wheat and rye was made into bread and pasta, oats into porridge or gruel, rye into beer and
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