American Appetites: documents about the history of American eating habits

Edited by Jennifer Jensen Wallach and Lindsey R. Swindall

Designed to appeal to students of history and foodies alike, American Appetites, the first book in the University of Arkansas Press’s new Food and Foodways series, brings together compelling firsthand testimony describing the nation’s collective eating habits throughout time. Beginning with Native American folktales that document foundational food habits and ending with contemporary discussions about how to obtain adequate, healthful, and ethical food, this volume reveals that the quest for food has always been about more than physical nourishment, demonstrating changing attitudes about issues ranging from patriotism and gender to technology and race.

Readers will experience vicariously hunger and satiation, culinary pleasure and gustatory distress from perspectives as varied as those of enslaved Africans, nineteenth-century socialites, battle-weary soldiers, impoverished immigrants, and prominent politicians. Regardless of their status or the peculiarities of their historical moment, the Americans whose stories are captured here reveal that U.S. history cannot be understood apart from an examination of what drives and what feeds the American appetite.

Jennifer Jensen Wallach is associate professor of history at the University of North Texas and the author or editor of four books, including How America Eats: A Social History of U.S. Food and CultureJennifer Jensen Wallach’s website.

Lindsey R. Swindall is visiting assistant professor of history at Sam Houston State University and the author of three books including The Path to the Greater, Freer, Truer World: Southern Civil Rights and Anticolonialism, 1937–1955.

University of Arkansas Press, 2014