Das Fleisch der Weltgesellschaft: Eine globalhistorische Skizze (1850–2010)
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Though often marginalized in historiographical overviews, the ‘nutrition transition’, including the emergence of the global meat complex, was central to the development of world society since the mid-nineteenth century. The article follows the historical traces of the transnational value chain of meat; from the production sites via the distribution channels to the consumption sites. It identifies three development phases, which were closely connected to global food regimes. In the British-centered food regime (1870s–1930s), the basic elements of the global meat complex emerged: the expansion of the agricultural frontier in overseas settler colonies, the concentration of the meat industry, the construction of a transoceanic transport and refrigeration infrastructure, the inclusion of food security in the agenda of national policies, the growth of social classes with adequate purchasing power and preferences. In the US-centered food regime (1940s-1970s), the global food complex was widened and deepened, leading to accelerated engineering and commodification of the meat value chain. In the WTO-centered food regime (since 1980s), ambivalent developments emerged. On the one hand, the global meat complex incorporated new world regions such as Brazil as main producer of feeding stuffs and livestock and China as main consumer of meat. On the other hand, food countercultures questioned the ‘meatification’ of diets and promoted meat-less and vegetarian alternatives.
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