As Good as Butter: Home Economics and the New Fats, 1890-1990
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Robins, Jonathan E.
New edible fats with names like "Hogless Lard" and "Cottolene" entered the American diet in the late 19th century, and Americans sought help from the first generation of home economists to understand these novel foodstuffs. For the next century, experts in home economics and allied disciplines grappled with questions about the taste, affordability, and healthiness of fats. Cornell's home economists deftly navigated early controversies, and used public outreach campaigns through the World Wars and Depression to explain practical uses of the new fats and the science behind them. The post-war debates over fat, cholesterol, and heart disease demonstrated the continuing importance of home economists as communicators, as faculty and extension workers translated technical--and often contradictory--research findings for public audiences. These debates also highlighted the ways in which researchers in other disciplines had appropriated nutrition as their own domain, however, divorcing food from its social context.
In a public seminar at Mann Library, historian Jonathan Robins, examines the changing debates over new fats in the 20th century American diet, highlighting the role of home economists in this history and the ways in which researchers in other disciplines appropriated nutrition as their own domain, divorcing food from its social context. Robins is assistant professor of global history at Michigan Technical University, where he researches and teaches the history of commodities. He is the recipient of the 2016 Dean's Fellowship recipient in the History of Home Economics in the Cornell College of Human Ecology.
College of Home Economics; College of Human Ecology; Cottolene; Fats
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