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Food in American History, Part 6Beef (Part 1): Reconstruction and Growth Into the 20th Century (18651910)

Grivetti, Louis E. PhD; Corlett, Jan L. PhD; Gordon, Bertram M. PhD; Lockett, Cassius T. PhD

Nutrition Today:
Pleasures of the Table
Abstract

This sixth installment of Food in American History series considers 1865 through 1910, covering America’s reconstruction and growth after the Civil War, with beef as the central food theme. Part 1 follows the rise of the hamburger as an icon in American culture.

Beef is the core, the essence, of American food history, yet it was not native to the Americas (Tables 1 and 2). Explorers and immigrants brought cattle to the New World. Subsequently, oxen pulled covered wagons westward, cows produced milk for pioneer families, and cowboys and cowgirls punched herds along the Chisholm Trail. The story of beef is American history, and the story of beef is one of human challenge, perseverance, and hard work. There is a widely held perception that steak and potatoes define American food patterns. From steaks to hamburgers, from classic beef stew to upscale flavored beef jerky, Americans have chewed on beef and beef products for nearly 400 years.

In Brief

How hamburgers came to be a national obsession

Author Information

Louis E. Grivetti, PhD, received his PhD in geography from the University of California, Davis, in 1976. He and his students conduct research on human dietary patterns, using historic and contemporary perspectives, especially in African, Asian, and Mediterranean societies, and American ethnic populations. Currently, Dr Grivetti is Professor of Nutrition, Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis.

Jan L. Corlett, PhD, received her PhD in Geography from the University of California at Davis in 1999. She has conducted research among Hmong refugees living in California and has studied the roles of ethnic gardens in maintaining Hmong cultural traditions. Currently, Dr Corlett is a program evaluator at the University of California, Davis.

Bertram M. Gordon, PhD, received his PhD in History from Rutgers University in 1969. He specializes in 20th-century French history and serves on the Editorial Board of French Historical Studies and the International Editorial Advisory Board of Modern and Contemporary France. In addition to writing extensively on France in World War II, he has written on the intersections of food and tourism and has studied the history of popular foods, such as hamburgers and pizza. Dr Gordon is Professor of History and Acting Provost & Dean of Faculty at Mills College, Oakland, Calif.

Cassius T. Lockett, PhD, received his PhD in nutrition science from the University of California, Davis, in 1999. He has conducted research on edible wild plants used during drought in West Africa and the nutritional consequences of human food-related behavior. Currently, Dr Locket is an Epidemic Intelligence Officer, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He is attached to the Epidemiology Services Division, Bureau of Epidemiology, Michigan Department of Community Health.

Corresponding author: Louis E. Grivetti, PhD, Department of Nutrition, University of California, 1 Peter J. Shields Dr, Davis, CA 95616 (e-mail: legrivetti@ucdavis.edu).

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.