Despite its title, this is not really about religion. Nor is the book to which the title refers about religion. Not really. It is about science and progress and all sorts of things. It is about food and growth and all sorts of things. But not religion. Not really. Despite the title.
It is also not about ambrosia really -- whether you mean that weird marshmallow-y thing or the food of the gods.
What is it about?
Food of the Gods is a peculiar read I came across because I was wildly browsing the kindle store, and it popped up and was . . . well, cheap. Really, its title is The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth and it is a 1904 H.G. Wells novel in which scientists (portrayed in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways) get interested in -- and then discover -- what underlies growth. (Literal growth -- in various forms.) They then come up with a food that enhances growth which they both intentionally give to a few select babies (sometimes out of sympathy, sometimes out of paternal and/or parental desire, and sometimes out of a sort of distorted envy) and both intentionally and unintentionally disperse about the planet (which is more or less Great Britain).Turns out it was a movie in various forms and etc., but hey, who knew?
In part this is a novel about what comes to be called "Boomfood" which leads to giants (babies grow up to be huge) and giant weeds, wasps, bees, rats, earwigs -- vermin, children and farm animals. In some ways it is about racial difference - since the huge are so different that they come to be seen as a new race, obliterating those (short, dwarfish people of our size) who come before both unintentionally and perhaps intentionally. It is a book about fear of science, irresponsible science, politics gone weird and conservative and anti- or pro-science with little actual understanding of it, the distance of "pure" science and curiosity from "real world" implications, and more.
The book reads interestingly from the vantage point of 2011, given all that has intervened since then -- around food and science, and politics and war, and humanity's historic changes. Boomfood is both terrifying and attractive in the context of the novel -- as is much of the world in which we live. Boomfood is certainly not as horrifying in some ways as the pesticides that have similarly unleashed monstrous vermin (e.g., antibiotic resistant germs that . . . . ) and the factory farms that promise growth and health and deliver something much less utopic (and indeed very dystopic for workers, diners, and the animals themselves).
One thing that came to mind as I was musing about all this was: when were vitamins really discovered? Is this a book about vitamins I asked myself. Not so bad a guess in some ways, given this history of vitamins which cites 1905 as a key year. Another who knew. . . .
I think of H.G Wells as about much much different things than this particular topic -- like War of the Worlds, for example. But I confess -- while it was a slog to read -- I am glad I read this 1904 novel. It made me think of food differently. And somehow it reminded me that I think he supported women's rights. Hmmm. This site says he was one of the most effective early male voices for women's suffrage.Who knew? (I would not say that the Food of the Gods is particularly feminist in its representaton of women, as a side note.)
For Wikipedia on the novel, click here. Want the H.G. Wells Society? Click here. Or more on his biography? Click here. Or go out there and find a way to read this peculiar, odd, fun book about food. IT is most definitely not our salvation, whoever we are.