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War Fare: Modern Food, Moral Food

January 21, 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Presented in partnership with the National WWI Museum and Memorial

The lecture

American eating changed dramatically in the early 20th century. As food production became more industrialized, nutritionists, home economists, and so-called racial scientists were all pointing Americans toward a newly scientific approach to diet. Food faddists were rewriting the most basic rules surrounding eating, while reformers were working to reshape the diets of immigrants and the poor. And by the time of World War I, the country’s first international aid program was bringing moral advice about food conservation into kitchens around the country. In this talk, Helen Zoe Veit argues that the 20th-century food revolution was fueled by a powerful conviction that Americans had a moral obligation to use self-discipline and reason, rather than taste and tradition, in choosing what to eat.

In addition, Chef Vaughn Good of Fox and Pearl, whose hyper-local fare received a James Beard accolade and Esquire declared one of 23 Best New Restaurants in America in 2020, will briefly discuss the concept of “modern and moral food.” If you are in the Greater Kansas City region, you won’t want to miss the charcuterie tasting option.

The speaker

Helen Zoe Veit, associate professor of history at Michigan State University, specializes in the history of food in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. She is now writing a book called Picky: A History of American Children’s Food, which traces the relatively recent emergence of picky eating among children in the United States. Her first book, Modern Food, Moral Food: Self-Control, Science, and the Rise of Modern American Eating in the Early Twentieth Century (UNC Press, 2013) explores food and nutrition in the Progressive Era. Modern Food, Moral Food was a finalist for the 2014 James Beard Award in Reference and Scholarship. Professor Veit directs the What America Ate project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, a digital archive and interactive website on food in the Great Depression. She is also a member of the editorial collective of Gastronomica: The Journal for Food Studies.

Accessing the program

This free, online program will take place via Zoom. Registration is currently open on the National WWI Museum and Memorial website. The optional Fox and Pearl charcuterie plates are $35 each and can be ordered while registering for the program.

Recommended reading



Linda Hall Library
National World War I Museum and Memorial



Questions? Contact Eric Ward at 816.926.8753 for more information about these events.

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