Greatest inventions in food and drink revealed
Refrigeration, pasteurisation and canning were today named as the greatest three inventions in the history of food and drink. All three were considered more important than older inventions including the fishing net and the
plough, and newer inventions including - perhaps surprisingly - the microwave.
The centrepiece of any kitchen, the oven, was pushed into fourth place. More strangely, for the time-poor among us, the microwave only managed 19th place.
Boffins at the Royal Society whittled down a list of 100 innovations down to just 20. The shortlist was then voted on by Fellows of the Society - including Nobel Prize winner Sir Tim Hunt - and experts in the food and drink industry. They judged each innovation on four criteria: accessibility, productivity, aesthetics and health.
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Canning was judged the third most important food and drink invention
The top three were the result of scientific successes by the British and French in the 18th and 19th centuries: artificial refrigeration was first demonstrated in Glasgow in 1748 and then produced commercially in 1805; the first pasteurisation test was completed in France in 1862; and a British merchant patented the tin can in 1810 (although a year earlier a Frenchman applied a similar process with glass jars and cork).
Royal Society treasurer Sir Peter Williams says: "The poll reveals the huge role science and innovation have played in improving our health and our lives."
On the low ranking of cork, Martin Campion, product manager at Laithwaite's Wine says: "Cork in mere 17th place? To use the common parlance, it was robbed! Cork might - just might - be one day hurdled by the screwcap, but nothing beats the quivering anticipation and sheer thrill of pulling a cork. Much more fun than pulling a plough!"
The top 20 greatest innovations in food and drink, in full
- Pasteurisation / sterilisation
- Threshing machine/combine harvester
- Selective breeding / strains
- Grinding / milling
- Fishing net
- Crop rotation
- Eating utensils
- Microwave oven
Do you agree the fridge is the best food and drink invention? Or should it have been the oven? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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And the worst?
Spam - no, not the can, the berks we get on here marrying geriatric Bikers who are all millionaires!