Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University
2021 to 2022
Nutrition for National Defense: US Food Science in World War II and the Cold War
Nutrition for National Defense argues that the links food experts drew between diet and defense during World War II and the early Cold War pulled nutrition in two opposing directions. Motivated first by the threat of fascism and then the perceived creep of communism, the US government expanded its commitment to ending malnutrition for increasingly large populations, broadening its vision of whose physical bodies were relevant to the national body. In tension with this expansion of the right to food, however, was a contraction of the problem in question, from one of hunger to one of malnutrition. The shift to malnutrition meant a shift to the authority of nutrition experts. In short: advocates of nutrition as national defense promoted the nourishment of marginalized and racialized bodies as essential to the country’s security, but they disregarded those same people’s political participation and their ideas about how to live and eat well.