There’s a conference here in Austin later this week on Food, the City and Innovation so ideas about food and cities have been rattling around in the back of my head.
One of them is how much space traditional food processing takes. Here are Icelandic women drying cod.
And here’s one of drying pasta in Italy.
And I am always struck in Mexican villages by the amount of space in a traditional household dedicated to grinding maize.
So I’m toying with the idea that one factor contributing to the growth of cities was the development of space-saving methods of processing foods, such as commercial drying facilities for pasta.
In early days (ancient Rome, for example) this commercial milling and baking would have dramatically reduced the space needed to produce daily bread. In the Industrial Revolution, steel roller mills, huge bakeries, vacuum pans for evaporating liquids, and so on would similarly have made operations more compact.
I wouldn’t want to claim that such compaction was as crucial as better transport, for example. But I do think it’s an idea worth kicking around.
So what do you think? Is there anything to this or am I just barking up a gum tree?