Today, dietary guidelines, healthy-eating pyramids, and other nutritional advice are a familiar and expected feature of governance. It was not always so. What we eat has not always been of such interest to the state. That people ate was of course very important; since ancient times rulers have feared the disruptive effects of famine. The minutiae of what ordinary folk ate, in contrast, was rarely considered an important component of statecraft. Over the course of the eighteenth century, however, the diet of working people acquired an unprecedented importance within European notions of statecraft, because of its perceived capacity to foster or impede the development of a higher-quality population. This article reviews these developments, to show how during the Enlightenment, everyday eating habits acquired political relevance. Although scholars often identify the twentieth century as the period when food became an object of governance, food's important instrument of modern statecraft has a much longer history.