Tag: Nutrition

The Cultural Logic of Calories and Body Types

We were promised calorie labels. New York City has required them in chain restaurants since 2008 and California since 2009, but the Affordable Care Act mandated them nationwide. In April 2016, the FDA issued a “final rule” on the calorie-labeling requirement, resolving questions like whether movie theaters and alcoholic beverages were included (they were), and… Read more →

The Gastropolitics of School Lunch

For Americans of a certain age, the term school lunch evokes the worst elements of institutional dining: soggy pizza, mushy vegetables, plastic sporks. Or perhaps it is the nutritional inadequacies that are most salient in our collective imagination: after all, the Reagan administration (according to popular legend) once classified ketchup as a vegetable.1 Passage of… Read more →

Real Men & Real Food: The Cultural Politics of Male Weight Loss

When Weight Watchers first launched an online program “customized just for guys” in 2007, one of their advertisements proclaimed, “Real men don’t diet.” This counterintuitive declaration evoked the questions that animate my current research. I’m analyzing how the consumer culture constructs notions of “real men” through depictions of food and the body, particularly during moments… Read more →

The Magic Liquid that Guarantees the Life of the Infant: Breast Milk as a Superfood

“Try squirting milk on that.” I stopped keeping track of how many times someone recommended healing my newborn’s ailments with a direct application of breast milk. From the time my husband cut a nail too short to a slightly more serious case of pink eye, my friends and family had come to regard breast milk… Read more →

A Healthy Dose of Skepticism

The FDA is on a mission to redefine healthy, and they “want to get it right.” This undertaking stems in part from ongoing criticism of the FDA’s nearly twenty-year-old, fat-phobic labeling regulations, in which absurdities abound. For instance, low-fat toaster pastries — comprised predominately of unpronounceable ingredients from a chemistry exam, often meet requirements for… Read more →

Helen Atwater: The First Lady of American Nutrition You’ve Never Heard Of

When I was researching the history of American food guides, I came across one of the earliest resources, “How to Select Foods,” published in 1917 by Hunt and Atwater. At first I assumed that this Atwater was Wilbur Olin Atwater, the man so often heralded as “The Father of American Nutrition.” I was wrong. It… Read more →

On Feeding My Husband with Cancer

I am both a historian of medicine and a practicing physician. This sometimes throws into sharp relief how different medicine is today than it was even 100 years ago. One of the guiding principles in my research and teaching is called “relativism” — trying to understand people and ideas in the past on their own… Read more →

But It’s Vintage Lifestyle Change: Surveying the History of American Orthorexia with the Whole30

Before I go any further, let me make one thing perfectly clear: this article is about a diet. Yes, I went on that diet and followed it to the letter. No, you’re not going to find out whether I lost weight. This is partly because I don’t know, since I don’t believe a numerical representation… Read more →

Making WIC Work

I can spot a WIC participant from three checkout lanes away. There is usually a growing line of unsuspecting shoppers lined up behind her while the cashier slowly rings up the carefully organized items. She has separated her food into little piles because she happens to live in a state that still uses a paper… Read more →

Don’t Eat That, Eat This: The Troubled History of Food Stamps and Nutrition

Lately, it seems like everywhere I turn I see discussions about how poor people use their money, how they should use their money better, and how we can force their hands to change those spending habits. In an attempt to crack down on welfare use, Missouri Republican Rock Brattin recently proposed that we “get the… Read more →