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Food and Eating in America: A Documentary Reader

ISBN: 978-1-118-93638-2
344 pages
March 2018, Wiley-Blackwell
Food and Eating in America: A Documentary Reader (1118936388) cover image


Guides students through a rich menu of American history through food and eating

This book features a wide and diverse range of primary sources covering the cultivation, preparation, marketing, and consumption of food from the time before Europeans arrived in North America to the present-day United States. It is organized around what the authors label the “Four P’s”—production, politics, price, and preference—in order to show readers that food represents something more than nutrition and the daily meals that keep us alive. The documents in this book demonstrate that food we eat is a “highly condensed social fact” that both reflects and is shaped by politics, economics, culture, religion, region, race, class, and gender.

Food and Eating in America covers more than 500 years of American food and eating history with sections on: An Appetizer: What Food and Eating Tell Us About America; Hunting, Harvesting, Starving, and the Occasional Feast: Food in Early America; Fields and Foods in the Nineteenth Century; Feeding a Modern World: Revolutions in Farming, Food, and Famine; and Counterculture Cuisines and Culinary Tourism.

  • Presents primary sources from a wide variety of perspectives—Native Americans, explorers, public officials, generals, soldiers, slaves, slaveholders, clergy, businessmen, workers, immigrants, activists, African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, artists, writers, investigative reporters, judges, the owners of food trucks, and prison inmates
  • Illustrates the importance of eating and food through speeches, letters, diaries, memoirs, newspaper and magazine articles, illustrations, photographs, song lyrics, advertisements, legislative statutes, court rulings, interviews, manifestoes, government reports, and recipes
  • Offers a new way of exploring how people lived in the past by looking closely and imaginatively at food

Food and Eating in America: A Documentary Reader is an ideal book for students of United States history, food, and the social sciences. It will also appeal to foodies and those with a curiosity for documentary-style books of all kinds.

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Author Information

James C. Giesen is a history professor at Mississippi State University, and serves as the executive secretary of the Agricultural History Society and editor of the University of Georgia Press series, Environmental History and the American South.

Bryant Simon is  a professor of history at Temple University and the author of four books and two edited collections, including most recently, Food, Power, and Agency (with Juergen Martschukat), and The Hamlet Fire:  A Tragic Story of Cheap Food, Cheap Government, and Cheap Lives.

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