When most people think of Clarence Birdseye, they think of the frozen food company named for him but he was so much more than that. He was a man of ideas who held almost 300 patents. Birdseye was from a family of eight children. He attended Amherst College but had to drop out when he ran out of money. He got into the fur trapping business and noticed that native people froze food in the winter. He became very curious about the idea of freezing and wondered if there was a way to freeze vegetables as well as meat. His work led to our modern convenience of frozen foods.
I wanted to love BIRDSEYE: THE ADVENTURES OF A CURIOUS MAN by Mark Kurlansky but in the end I only liked it. Clarence Birdseye was a fascinating man who never gave up on an idea and Kurlansky provides a lot of background on the man and the time period. His focus, of course, is on Birdseye’s pursuit of a technique to freeze food and the subsequent marketing of the results. I found all of that interesting but wanted more about Birdseye himself and less of the technical details. Kurlansky really did his homework and the book is rich in historical background and scientific details but, because of that, it did drag in parts for me. I’d still recommend BIRDSEYE to readers who love history and invention.
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