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Publisher's Summary

The decade-long Great Depression, a period of shifts in the country's political and social landscape, forever changed the way America eats. Before 1929, America's relationship with food was defined by abundance. But the collapse of the economy, in both urban and rural America, left a quarter of all Americans out of work and undernourished - shattering long-held assumptions about the limitlessness of the national larder.
In 1933, as women struggled to feed their families, President Roosevelt reversed long-standing biases toward government-sponsored "food charity". For the first time in American history, the federal government assumed, for a while, responsibility for feeding its citizens. The effects were widespread. Championed by Eleanor Roosevelt, "home economists" who had long fought to bring science into the kitchen rose to national stature. Through the Bureau of Home Economics, these women led a sweeping campaign to instill dietary recommendations, the forerunners of today's Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
At the same time, expanding conglomerates introduced packaged and processed foods, which led to a new American cuisine based on speed and convenience. This movement toward a homogenized national diet sparked a revival of American regional cooking that continues to this day.
©2016 Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe (P)2016 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"A highly readable, illuminating look at the many ramifications of feeding the hungry in hard times." (Kirkus)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By Sara on 01-21-17

Disjointed, Repetitive & Rambling

I started this book with high hopes. The beginning was excellent and the early stories were fascinating. This area of history is important and has much to offer to the understanding of current day approaches to food, assistance and hunger in America.

My problem rests in the nonlinear approach to the writing. Rather than start at the earliest date--the late 1890s and work forward through WWI and into the 1930s in a systematic way--the book jumps randomly through history. We hear about 1918, then 1930, then 1895, then it's back to 1917, then 1931. The authors circle around repeatedly in time and this becomes frustrating and irritating to follow.

What's more perplexing is that there seems to be no reason for this scattered approach. The stories are often repeated and characters reintroduced as new--as if we have not just spent an hour hearing about these events and people already. Odd. This may be due to two authors with differing styles not reading clearly what the other has already written? I will never know. After almost six hours of listening I threw in the towel.

The narration while clear was really too slow. I increased the speed to 1.25 and that was enough to make the reading sound almost normal. Not perfect, but tolerable.

What I would like is that both of the authors and all the editors, publishers and production people involved sit in a room together and be forced to listen to the book. I have a strong feeling that there might be many red faces in the room. Hearing the book read aloud would make very clear the extreme level of rambling and general disorganization present in the writing.

Overall, disappointing for what should have been a scholarly and important entry in the American History genre. If you can stand the nonlinear approach and repetition there are some interesting parts. For me it was maddening.

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25 of 30 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Robert on 06-07-17

Not entirely accurate title

I was expecting more of a culinary history, while I think this turned out to be more of a history of nutrition and the intersection of science, agriculture, and public policy (and how those all don't mix well). There are some personal stories, recipes, and other interesting histories sprinkled throughout. I found it all interesting, but found myself wondering at the end what the "message" was other than some previously unheard history bits.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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