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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The 20 Most Significant Food Inventions in History

Posted By on Tue, Sep 18, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Where did the plow end up on the list? - FLICKR/ARCHER10

Science may not be the first thing you think about when it comes to the development of culinary culture over time, but The Royal Society of the UK has put out a list of the top 20 most significant inventions for food and drink in history. You'd immediately think the plow would be way up there, but to our surprise it barely makes the top 10 -- the top four are all relatively modern inventions (the fifth is irrigation, which we know hearkens back to the first civilizations thanks to a comprehensive sixth grade unit on the Fertile Crescent).

See Also:

- New Cookbook Explores California's Culinary Past

- The Food World 30 Years Ago, Old Apples, and New Cheese

- Before the Mission Burrito Came the San Francisco Tamale: An Interview with Gustavo Arellano

The Royal Society, the UK's academy of sciences, started with a list of 100 innovations nominated by their Fellows (including a Pulitzer Prize winner), and then whittled it down to a mere 20:

  1. Refrigeration
  2. Pasteurization / sterilization
  3. Canning
  4. The oven
  5. Irrigation
  6. Threshing machine/combine harvester
  7. Baking
  8. Selective breeding / strains
  9. Grinding / milling
  10. The plough
  11. Fermentation
  12. The fishing net
  13. Crop rotation
  14. The pot
  15. The knife
  16. Eating utensils
  17. The cork
  18. The barrel
  19. The microwave oven
  20. Frying

For more, the Atlantic has a great breakdown of the reason each item on the list was culinarily significant.

What do you think -- did your favorite invention make the list? Leave a comment, or you can vote on your top innovation on the Royal Society Facebook page.

Follow us on Twitter at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook. Follow me at @annaroth.

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About The Author

Anna Roth

Anna Roth

Anna Roth is SF Weekly's former Food & Drink Editor and author of West Coast Road Eats: The Best Road Food From San Diego to the Canadian Border.


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