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.
"A highly readable, illuminating look at the many ramifications of feeding the hungry in hard times." (Kirkus)
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Disjointed, Repetitive & Rambling
Incredible Insight into the Birth of US Nutrition
This book, though particularly lengthy, never failed to amaze me... It is a glaring example of how looking to the past can help us better understand our present. Understanding the role of nutrition, eating, and the changes in dietary culture in the first half of the 20th century helped me make sense of current attitudes about such topics. I especially appreciated that the author included some culinary histories of urbanites, rural dwellers, and minority groups alike.
Strangely, the only thing that comes to mind is the reading material of my coursework on disability and mainstream attitudes that people must 'earn' or be 'worthy of' handouts, even when economic opportunity is plagued with absence
This is the kind of book you nibble away at while cooking and cleaning over the course of weeks. It's relaxing and at times charming