Edible Health: Nutritional Consumer Products in Britain and the United States, 1850-1930
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CitationHaushofer, Lisa. 2018. Edible Health: Nutritional Consumer Products in Britain and the United States, 1850-1930. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation examines the relationship between commercial nutritional products and the production of nutritional knowledge. I study four food consumer products – Gail Borden’s Meat Biscuit, Benger’s Self-Digestive Food, Kellogg’s Peptogenic Foods, and Fleischmann’s Yeast, created between 1850 and 1930 in Britain and the United States, which promised to possess nutritional value beyond that previously attributed to food. I approach these products not as mere vehicles of nutritional knowledge, disseminating or popularizing nutritional scientific ideas, but as crucial sites of nutritional knowledge production. Through an analysis of physical objects, company records, medical and scientific literature, promotional material, as well as popular literature, I recover the changing cultural contexts of production and consumption as well as the nutritional scientific discussions within which the products were embedded. Products aligned food and science with the economic rationales of the empire, the state, and the market. This alignment, I argue, shaped the very technical and scientific concepts of nutrition science; it fundamentally transformed how food could be known, and ultimately pushed nutrition to the margins of biomedical activity. Products were material arguments in debates about notions of nutritiousness, digestibility, and taste; their creation both disrupted and reconciled familiar ways of knowing food through the senses and through the intuitive cosmologies of natural history. Our relationship to food, I conclude, was not only deeply influenced by the advent of nutritional products, but was ultimately reshaped in the image of ‘product.’
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41128255
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