A Short History of the American Stomach

A Short History of the American Stomach

Book - 2008
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The extremes of American eating--our separate-but-equal urges to stuff and to starve ourselves--are easy to blame on the excesses of modern living. But Frederick Kaufman followed the winding road of the American intestine back to that cold morning when the first famished Pilgrim clambered off the Mayflower, and he discovered the alarming truth: We've been this way all along. With outraged wit and an incredible range of sources that includes everything from Cotton Mather's diary to interviews with Amish black-market raw-milk dealers, Kaufman offers a highly selective, take-no-prisoners tour of American history by way of the American stomach. Travel with him as he tracks down our earliest foodies; discovers the secret history of Puritan purges; introduces diet gurus of the nineteenth century, such as William Alcott, who believed that Ònothing ought to be mashed before it is eatenÓ; traces extreme feeders from Paul Bunyan to eating-contest champ Dale Boone (descended from Daniel, of course); and investigates our blithe efforts to re-create plants and animals that we've eaten to the point of extinction.
Publisher: Orlando, Fla. : Harcourt, [2008]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2008
ISBN: 9780151011940
Branch Call Number: 394.12 KAU
Characteristics: xv, 205 pages ; 21 cm

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Jan 19, 2011

An extremely unfocused book. Kaufman has an excellent topic here, but does little with it. Like with Freakonomics, the book is a series of interesting tidbits that don't really add up to anything. Probably the most interesting thing I learned is that practically every food in America, except those including pork, is probably kosher, even if not supervised by a rabbi. There were some interesting tidbits about the Mather family, but why not go deeper into how their theories affected the average American?

There is a book to be written on this topic - this one isn't the right one. It merely skims the surface and isn't a coherent whole.

And don't let the length fool you. This is REALLY short. Without the index, it is 194 pages of the kind of type you see in young adult titles. I read this in about 2 hours, and I'm not a particularly fast reader

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