Eating Right in America: The Cultural Politics of Food & Health

Charlotte Biltekoff. Duke Univ., $22.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-8223-5559-5
In this rigorous but intentionally inconclusive book, Biltekoff, a former chef and currently U.C. Davis assistant professor of American studies and food science, raises important questions about the national dialogue on eating right. Her meticulously researched examination of attempts to make Americans more nutrition-conscious doesn’t quantify the value of nutrition, nor does it advocate any one approach. Instead, Biltekoff narrates a 150-year-long battle to cajole Americans into thinking about eating as an extension of good citizenship. Diet has long been seen in the U.S. as a sign of proper behavior in general; during WWII, attitudes toward food were linked directly to “helping Uncle Sam.” 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. 25 b&w illus. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/29/2013
Release date: 09/01/2013
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