California Studies in Food and Culture

Published by: University of California Press

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California Studies in Food and Culture

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Inventing Baby Food

Taste, Health, and the Industrialization of the American Diet

Amy Bentley

Food consumption is a significant and complex social activity—and what a society chooses to feed its children reveals much about its tastes and ideas regarding health. In this groundbreaking historical work, Amy Bentley explores how the invention of commercial baby food shaped American notions of infancy and influenced the evolution of parental and pediatric care.

Until the late nineteenth century, infants were almost exclusively fed breast milk. But over the course of a few short decades, Americans began feeding their babies formula and solid foods, frequently as early as a few weeks after birth.

By the 1950s, commercial baby food had become emblematic of all things modern in postwar America. Little jars of baby food were thought to resolve a multitude of problems in the domestic sphere: they reduced parental anxieties about nutrition and health; they made caretakers feel empowered; and they offered women entering the workforce an irresistible convenience. But these baby food products laden with sugar, salt, and starch also became a gateway to the industrialized diet that blossomed during this period.

Today, baby food continues to be shaped by medical, commercial, and parenting trends. Baby food producers now contend with health and nutrition problems as well as the rise of alternative food movements. All of this matters because, as the author suggests, it’s during infancy that American palates become acclimated to tastes and textures, including those of highly processed, minimally nutritious, and calorie-dense industrial food products.

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The Life of Cheese

Crafting Food and Value in America

Heather Paxson

Cheese is alive, and alive with meaning. Heather Paxson’s beautifully written anthropological study of American artisanal cheesemaking tells the story of how craftwork has become a new source of cultural and economic value for producers as well as consumers. Dairy farmers and artisans inhabit a world in which their colleagues and collaborators are a wild cast of characters, including plants, animals, microorganisms, family members, employees, and customers. As "unfinished" commodities, living products whose qualities are not fully settled, handmade cheeses embody a mix of new and old ideas about taste and value. By exploring the life of cheese, Paxson helps rethink the politics of food, land, and labor today.

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Meals to Come

A History of the Future of Food

Dr. Warren Belasco

In this provocative and lively addition to his acclaimed writings on food, Warren Belasco takes a sweeping look at a little-explored yet timely topic: humanity's deep-rooted anxiety about the future of food. People have expressed their worries about the future of the food supply in myriad ways, and here Belasco explores a fascinating array of material ranging over two hundred years—from futuristic novels and films to world's fairs, Disney amusement parks, supermarket and restaurant architecture, organic farmers' markets, debates over genetic engineering, and more. Placing food issues in this deep historical context, he provides an innovative framework for understanding the future of food today—when new prophets warn us against complacency at the same time that new technologies offer promising solutions. But will our grandchildren's grandchildren enjoy the cornucopian bounty most of us take for granted? This first history of the future to put food at the center of the story provides an intriguing perspective on this question for anyone—from general readers to policy analysts, historians, and students of the future—who has wondered about the future of life's most basic requirement.

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More Than Just Food

Food Justice and Community Change

Garrett Broad

The industrial food system has created a crisis in the United States that is characterized by abundant food for privileged citizens and “food deserts” for the historically marginalized. In response, food justice activists based in low-income communities of color have developed community-based solutions, arguing that activities like urban agriculture, nutrition education, and food-related social enterprises can drive systemic social change. Focusing on the work of several food justice groups—including Community Services Unlimited, a South Los Angeles organization founded as the nonprofit arm of the Southern California Black Panther Party—More Than Just Food explores the possibilities and limitations of the community-based approach, offering a networked examination of the food justice movement in the age of the nonprofit industrial complex.

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Of Sugar and Snow

A History of Ice Cream Making

Geraldine M. Quinzio

Was ice cream invented in Philadelphia? How about by the Emperor Nero, when he poured honey over snow? Did Marco Polo first taste it in China and bring recipes back? In this first book to tell ice cream's full story, Jeri Quinzio traces the beloved confection from its earliest appearances in sixteenth-century Europe to the small towns of America and debunks some colorful myths along the way. She explains how ice cream is made, describes its social role, and connects historical events to its business and consumption. A diverting yet serious work of history, Of Sugar and Snow provides a fascinating array of recipes, from a seventeenth-century Italian lemon sorbet to a twentieth-century American strawberry mallobet, and traces how this once elite status symbol became today's universally available and wildly popular treat.

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Our Overweight Children

What Parents, Schools, and Communities Can Do to Control the Fatness Epidemic

Sharron Dalton

The United States is facing a health crisis of epidemic proportions: children are gaining weight younger and faster than ever before. With the prospect of becoming the most obese generation of adults in history, they are already turning up with an alarming assortment of "grown-up" maladies, from type 2 diabetes to high blood pressure. This book takes a clear-eyed look at what's behind the statistics and diagnoses, and what can be done about the major health crisis among American children.

Sharron Dalton begins with the basics: what obesity is, what causes it, and why it matters. Integrating information from scientific and popular sources, she reviews past remedies and their results and compares specific strategies and programs for children. When a third of our children are overweight or likely to become so, it's everyone's problem—and this book argues for a united approach, promoting the role of parents, health professionals, and school and community leaders. For each group, Dalton outlines actions to combat the epidemic. She suggests ways for parents to respond to their children in interactions centered on food and physical activities. And she illuminates a number of issues raised by childhood obesity, from the pain of fat discrimination to the economic, social, and political ramifications of an epidemic of obesity among the young.

At once authoritative and nontechnical, no-nonsense and compassionate, Our Overweight Children is a clear call to action—a prescription for treating the most dire problem threatening our children's health and our nation's future.

Our Overweight Children includes

* A discussion of what obesity is, what causes it, and why it matters

* A review of various remedies and their results

* A comparison of specific strategies and programs for children

* A plan for parents, health professionals, and school and community leaders to work together to confront childhood obesity

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The Queen of Fats

Why Omega-3s Were Removed from the Western Diet and What We Can Do to Replace Them

Susan Allport

A nutritional whodunit that takes readers from Greenland to Africa to Israel, The Queen of Fats gives a fascinating account of how we have become deficient in a nutrient that is essential for good health: the fatty acids known as omega-3s. Writing with intelligence and passion, Susan Allport tells the story of these vital fats, which are abundant in greens and fish, among other foods. She describes how scientists came to understand the role of omega-3s in our diet, why commercial processing has removed them from the food we eat, and what the tremendous consequences have been for our health. In many Western countries, epidemics of inflammatory diseases and metabolic disorders have been traced to omega-3 deficiencies. The Queen of Fats provides information for every consumer who wants to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and obesity and to improve brain function and overall health. This important and compelling investigation into the discovery, science, and politics of omega-3s will transform our thinking about what we should be eating.

* Includes steps you can take to add omega-3s to your diet

* Shows why eating fish is not the only way, or even the best way, to increase omega-3s.

* Provides a new way to understand the complex advice about the role and importance of fats in the body

* Explains how and why the food industry has created a deadly imbalance of fats in our foods

* Shows how omega-3s can be reintroduced to our diet through food enrichment and changes in the feeding of livestock

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Secrets from the Greek Kitchen

Cooking, Skill, and Everyday Life on an Aegean Island

David E. Sutton

Secrets from the Greek Kitchen explores how cooking skills, practices, and knowledge on the island of Kalymnos are reinforced or transformed by contemporary events. Based on more than twenty years of research and the author’s videos of everyday cooking techniques, this rich ethnography treats the kitchen as an environment in which people pursue tasks, display expertise, and confront culturally defined risks.

Kalymnian islanders, both women and men, use food as a way of evoking personal and collective memory, creating an elaborate discourse on ingredients, tastes, and recipes. Author David E. Sutton focuses on micropractices in the kitchen, such as the cutting of onions, the use of a can opener, and the rolling of phyllo dough, along with cultural changes, such as the rise of televised cooking shows, to reveal new perspectives on the anthropology of everyday living.

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A Taste of Power

Food and American Identities

Katharina Vester

Since the founding of the United States, culinary texts and practices have played a crucial role in the making of cultural identities and social hierarchies. A Taste of Power examines culinary writing and practices as forces for the production of social order and, at the same time, points of cultural resistance. Culinary writing has helped shape dominant ideas of nationalism, gender, and sexuality, suggesting that eating right is a gateway to becoming an American, a good citizen, an ideal man, or a perfect wife and mother.

In this brilliant interdisciplinary work, Katharina Vester examines how cookbooks became a way for women to participate in nation-building before they had access to the vote or public office, for Americans to distinguish themselves from Europeans, for middle-class authors to assert their class privileges, for men to claim superiority over women in the kitchen, and for lesbian authors to insert themselves into the heteronormative economy of culinary culture. A Taste of Power engages in close reading of a wide variety of sources and genres to uncover the intersections of food, politics, and privilege in American culture.

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Tasting French Terroir

The History of an Idea

Thomas Parker

This book explores the origins and significance of the French concept of terroir, demonstrating that the way the French eat their food and drink their wine today derives from a cultural mythology that developed between the Renaissance and the Revolution. Through close readings and an examination of little-known texts from diverse disciplines, Thomas Parker traces terroir’s evolution, providing insight into how gastronomic mores were linked to aesthetics in language, horticulture, and painting and how the French used the power of place to define the natural world, explain comportment, and frame France as a nation.

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