[UCP Books]: Fear of Food: A History of Why We Worry about What We Eat

 “Harvey Levenstein’s entertaining social history of American food scares places today’s worries in a broader historical context, from the ‘germophobia’ of the nineteenth century to concerns about cholesterol and chemical residues in the twenty-first. Read this book and you’ll understand why warnings about the safety of your food should always be taken with a pinch of salt. (Just a pinch, though—too much could be bad for you.).”

Tom Standage, author of A History of the World in Six Glasses


Fear of Food
A History of Why We Worry about What We Eat
by Harvey Levenstein

Publication Date: April 15, 2012 Cloth • $25.00 • £12.00
UK Publication Date: April 23, 2012 978-0-226-47374-1


Restaurant menus and grocery aisles offer an overwhelming plentitude of food choices. At the same time, news clips, assorted experts, and food packages vie for our attention with often conflicting information and warnings—Whole grains! Red meat! No meat! No trans fat! Low fat! There may be no greater source of anxiety for Americans today than the question of what to eat. But here to silence the outcry with some very rare and very welcome advice is food historian Harvey Levenstein: Stop worrying!
In Fear of Food Levenstein reveals the people and interests who have created and exploited these worries, causing an extraordinary number of Americans to allow fear to trump pleasure in dictating their food choices. He tells of the prominent scientists who first warned about deadly germs and poisons in foods, and their successors who charged that processing foods robs them of life-giving vitamins and minerals. Levenstein also highlights how large food corporations have taken advantage of these concerns by marketing their products to combat the fear of the moment. Such examples include the co-opting of the “natural foods” movement, which grew out of the belief that inhabitants of a remote Himalayan Shangri-la enjoyed remarkable health and longevity by avoiding the very kinds of processed food these corporations produced, and the Mediterranean Diet, which provided the basis for a powerful coalition of scientists, doctors, food producers, and others to convince Americans that high-fat foods were deadly. In Fear of Food, Levenstein encourages us to finally rediscover the joys of eating something just because it tastes good.
Harvey Levenstein is professor emeritus of history at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He has published a number of books on American history, including Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet and Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America.

He is available for interviews. Please contact Carrie Olivia Adams at 773-702-4216 or cadams@press.uchicago.edu for more information.




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