A Human Being Is Primarily A Bag For Putting Food Into

Taking advantage of a quiet bank holiday and an empty house hours of my weekend have been spent ensconced in my deck chair catching up on some reading. I wish I could tell you Orwell is on my Sunday reading list but I was in-fact dipping into Heat by Bill Buford when I found this Orwellian gem from The Road to Wigan Pier.

'A human being is primarily a bag for
putting food into; the other functions and faculties may be more godlike,
but in point of time they come afterwards. A man dies and is buried, and
all his words and actions are forgotten, but the food he has eaten lives
after him in the sound or rotten bones of his children. I think it could be
plausibly argued that changes of diet are more important than changes of
dynasty or even of religion. The Great War, for instance, could never have
happened if tinned food had not been invented. And the history of the past
four hundred years in England would have been immensely different if it had
not been for the introduction of root-crops and various other vegetables at
the end of the Middle Ages, and a little later the introduction of non-
alcoholic drinks (tea, coffee, cocoa) and also of distilled liquors to
which the beer-drinking English were not accustomed. Yet it is curious how
seldom the all-importance of food is recognized. You see statues everywhere
to politicians, poets, bishops, but none to cooks or bacon-curers or

This entry was posted on Sunday, May 3rd, 2009 at 11:52 and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed or trackback from your own site. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1. How odd that this quote disproves what it’s claiming – that a man’s words die with him but the food that he eats outlives him. It would seem, on the contrary, that Orwell’s words have lived after him (since you’ve quoted them), but the food that he ate is digested, excreted, gone and forgotten – or have you a secret store of his recipes somewhere?

  2. nothing like contradicting the great man by using his wise words. alas no stash of Orwellian recipes as far as I know, but still looking through my copy of and Brown Trout in London and New York.
    Tom Kevill-Davies
    The Hungry Cyclist – Pedalling The World For The Perfect Meal
    t. 0789 621 5282

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