Eating Right in America is a powerful critique of dietary reform in the United States from the late nineteenth-century emergence of nutritional science through the contemporary alternative food movement and campaign against obesity. Charlotte Biltekoff analyzes the discourses of dietary reform, including the writings of reformers, as well as the materials they created to bring their messages to the public. She shows that while the primary aim may be to improve health, the process of teaching people to “eat right” in the U.S. inevitably involves shaping certain kinds of subjects and citizens, and shoring up the identity and social boundaries of the ever-threatened American middle class. Without discounting the pleasures of food or the value of wellness, Biltekoff advocates a critical reappraisal of our obsession with diet as a proxy for health. Based on her understanding of the history of dietary reform, she argues that talk about “eating right” in America too often obscures structural and environmental stresses and constraints, while naturalizing the dubious redefinition of health as an individual responsibility and imperative.
The book is published by Duke University Press
“Biltekoff…raises important questions about the national dialogue on eating right…. Biltekoff effectively forges connections between this extreme and the current craze for organic food and the obesity epidemic. The author shows, carefully and explicitly, that even the most virtuous approaches to healthful eating are based, sometimes unconsciously, in shaming and class and racial biases.” (
“ Eating Right in America is a must-read for anyone interested in modern dietary reform. I say that as a scholar who has studied the subject for more than twenty-five years. This concise, well-researched, and provocative book is an instructor's dream, and it is certainly a book that every student and practitioner of nutrition, dietetics, and food science should read and ponder.” (Warren Belasco, author of Meals to Come: A History of the Future of Food)
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