When Wheat Was King
The Rise and Fall of the Canada-UK Grain Trade
University of British Columbia Press 2016
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in British StudiesNew Books in EconomicsNew Books in Environmental StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books Network June 6, 2018 David Fouser
In When Wheat Was King: The Rise and Fall of the Canada-UK Grain Trade (University of British Columbia Press, 2016), André Magnan connects the cultivation of wheat on the Canadian prairies to the consumption of bread in Britain. Using the concept of a “food regime” as a theoretical frame, Magnan identifies three broad periods of stability in the relationship between Canadian wheat and British bread: a “UK-centered” food regime from about 1870 to 1914, a “mercantile-industrial” food regime from 1945 to 1972, and a “corporate” or “corporate-environmental” food regime from 1995 to the present. Separating these three periods are two periods of instability, the first including the two World Wars and the second beginning with the simultaneous oil crisis and entry of the Soviet Union into the global wheat trade in the 1970s. Through these phases of relative stability and instability, Magnan traces the institutions that linked the cold, dry Canadian prairies to the cities of Britain, including banks and food processing companies, with particular focus on the Canadian Wheat Board from 1935 until its dissolution in 2012.
André Magnan is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Studies at the University of Regina. His research and teaching interests include the sociology of agrifood systems, globalization and development, and sociological theory. Magnan has two principle areas of research. First, he has examined the history and politics of grain marketing on the Canadian prairies, with a focus on the rise and fall of the Canadian Wheat Board, one of Canada’s most important agricultural institutions.
His second area of research focus is the financialization of agrifood systems. Here Dr. Magnan has examined changing patterns of farm structure and ownership in Canada and Australia, documenting how financial investors of different stripes are buying farmland on a large scale. Part of a multi-year study funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, this research aims to understand how new patterns of farmland ownership could affect family farmers, rural communities, and the agricultural industry.
David Fouser is an adjunct faculty member at Santa Monica College, Laguna College of Art & Design, and Chapman University. He completed his Ph.D. in 2016 at the University of California, Irvine, and studies the cultural and environmental history of wheat, flour, and bread in Britain and the British Empire.