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

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  77 ratings  ·  16 reviews
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 b ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 2nd 2013 by Duke University Press Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Aug 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook
One must be forgiven for recollecting stereotypes, but when you contrast the marketing text for this book to the popular imagery of the United States, you must wonder if they refer to the same country.

"(The book) chronicles the dietary reform movements that have shaped ideas about good nutrition and public health in the United States for more than a century." With the high take up of pre-processed food and takeaway outlets, it feels harder to accept that things have got better, instead of gettin
May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
I received this book from Goodreads about 2 weeks ago and totally enjoyed reading it.Ms. Biltekoff takes us through the history of food from the 1900s. It's clear and easy to read and the illustrations from our own USDA during the World War II years are quite entertaining and very interesting showing the change in food "attitudes" over the years. I left the book on the coffee table when I finished reading it and my friends have picked it up and began to read bits and pieces of it and it proved t ...more
Ai Miller
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
A really incredible look into four different food-related movements across the 20th century, and the ways that they reveal more about the cultural values held by those in charge of the movements than they do about food practices themselves.

I really really enjoyed this book- it was easy to read (I got through it in less than a day) and though it wasn't necessarily groundbreaking to me, the way things were explained was very simple and accessible. The chapter on "obesity" really was what knocked
Dec 18, 2019 added it
Cool research but soooo wimpy about stating the obvious conclusions the research implies
Jun 11, 2013 rated it liked it
**I received a review copy of this book from Goodreads giveaways**

When I finished this book, I couldn't help but be reminded of a Chesterton quote I'm fond of: "Science must not impose any philosophy, any more than the telephone must tell us what to say." While this is true, nutritional science can be, and often is, used as a tool to impose philosophical, political, and cultural attitudes towards food and health on the population at large.

I was especially concerned by the tendency of most of the
Nov 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Crafting a chronological historic narrative from the turn-of-the-century domestic science reformers and mid-century wartime nutrition programs to the late twentieth century's alternative food movement and anti-obesity campaign, Biltekoff presents an engaging, provocative, and highly readable argument about the cultural politics of dietary reform efforts to get Americans to "eat right." Revealing historical continuities in American sociocultural anxiety and aspiration that inspire specific dietar ...more
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food-studies
This is a great overview about the shifting politics of diets, nutrition, and "health" in American society, written in clear crisp prose and impeccably researched. Writing from the inspiration point of Perfection Salad, Biltekoff wants to expose the "cultural politics" at the core of how we talk about eating right or improving eating habits, especially how righteous eating is an expression of virtuous characters or moral righteousness. By foregrounding the concept that all dietary reform movemen ...more
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
A compelling read about the ways in which food and health are closely tied to one's place within American society. Biltekoff tethers multiple studies, ads and government initiatives together to uncover the growing distance between the healthy upper class and the unrestrained "bad eaters" of the lower classes.
Biltekoff clearly and concisely lays out how determining what is considered to be a "good" diet has always been a social, political, and moral process. I would recommend this book to public health, nutrition, and other food-adjacent professionals.
Dec 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Good summary of dominant culture history...there needs to be more cultural explorations of people of colors’ experiences...which she suggests at the end, but this book is not complete without it.
Linn Steward
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Dietitians, Teachers, Food Historians
Have read and appreciate the insights on eating right in America. Especially the parallel between Alice Waters and Ellen Richards. My instinct has always been eat local and seasonal. It was easy to do in California and I am fourth generation. But both the restaurant and writings of Alice Waters left me feeling there was a piece missing. The connection between Alice and Ellen have gone a long way to filling in that piece, both food crusaders for a righteous cause and both committed to reforming t ...more
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: work
Very interesting perspective on the way we talk about diet and health. She describes the early "domestic science" movement, the evolving idea of nutrition through WWII, and concludes with an analysis of the current "war on obesity." She argues that our definitions of health and overweight are arbitrary and used to delineate class values. The middle class elite use a specific type of diet and weight to define "health" and Otherize minorities and the poor who do not fit the bill. Interesting remin ...more
Sep 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Biltekoff, reading some of the same things that I've read, noticed the similar value judgments in nutritional advice over the decades - from the home economics movement to Alice Waters.. This came from a dissertation and has that feel, but I would still recommend it for anyone interested in food history.
Review to come. Very interesting analysis and expansion, I'm impressed, though I almost wish this book were longer! Definitely would make for interesting conversations on cultural expansion, consumption and health in different spectrums.
Jun 27, 2015 marked it as to-read
Could not read this book because the public libraries where I requested it mysteriously got rid of all the copies with no explanations. This happened all over the County, so I suppose it is a very bad influence or a dammed book or something :-(
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Charlotte Biltekoff is Assistant Professor of American Studies and Food Science & Technology at the University of California, Davis. She is the author of Eating Right in America . Previously, she was a chef at Greens, a well-known vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco. ...more

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48 likes · 6 comments
“...despite seemingly scientific origins, dietary ideals are cultural, subjective, and political. While its primary aim may be to improve health, the process of teaching people to ‘eat right’ inevitably involves shaping certain kinds of subjects, and citizens, and shoring up the identity and social boundaries of the ever-threatened American middle class.” 0 likes
“By 1980, the economic theory of neoliberalism, with its faith in free markets, property rights, and individual autonomy, had begun to reshape cultural notions of good citizenship. The good citizen was increasingly imagined as an autonomous, informed individual acting responsibly in his or her own self-interest, primarily through the market, as an educated consumer. Dovetailing with the new health consciousness, the ethos of neoliberalism shifted the burden of caring for the well-being of others from the state to the individual and recast health as a personal pursuit, responsibility, and duty. As the burden of solving social problems and preserving the health of individuals shifted from the public to the private sector, alternative dietary ideals reinforced the increasingly important social values of personal responsibility and consumer consumption.” 0 likes
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