What's Cooking?: The History of American Food

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
What's Cooking? tells the history of eating habits and food production in the United States from the time the first settlers arrived until the present. Using black-and-white historical photographs, the well-researched text tells the colorful history of America's love of food, and the entrepreneurial creativity in producing and packaging it. It is well known that America leads the world in food production, and after reading this book, the reader will soon realize that Americans are the greatest innovators of food products. The book relates the changing food habits of Americans over the years as well as their reliance on science to come up with ever changing ways to create new and safer food products. The book ends on a note of caution, as Americans view with skepticism recent advances in bioengineering, which may alter food genetically. An interesting look at a subject common to us all. An index and bibliography are included. One in the "People's History" series. 2001, Lerner, . Ages 10 to 15. Reviewer: Meredith Kiger
Whitman's tight and entertaining narrative about America's unusual relationship with food begins with the first settlers' discovery of maize and ends with "Frankenfoods," today's genetically engineered plants and animals. Whitman emphasizes that historically surrounded by plenty, Americans "gulp, gobble... go" and diet in reaction to fashion images or national emergency. She points out that brand names and food chains providing three Cs—cleanliness, convenience, consistency—have aided that pattern by making safe food with predictable taste ever more available. Weaving America's food consumption with Manifest Destiny, wars, and economic booms and busts, Whitman emphasizes that Americans see their food as a weapon, a time saver, a status symbol, medicine, and entertainment, rarely as a scarce national resource. Curiously, she leaves out some significant fun foods that American innovation made available to the common person—chocolate, hot dogs, and ice cream. The quotations that introduce each chapter will be discussion starters for social studies and home economics teachers. The book's illustrations and photographs give the feel of the periods discussed. The selected bibliography suggests many sources for additional research. Although the book is short and well written, its topic and historical approach make it a more likely source for research reports than for recreational reading. Index. Illus. Photos. Biblio. VOYA CODES: 4Q 2P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001,Lerner, 88p, $22.60. Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer: Lucy Schall SOURCE: VOYA, August 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 3)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-This look at food from the early 1600s to the present day reveals a spirit of independence and flexible adaptation in American tastes and a strong link between what we eat as a nation and how much technology we have incorporated into our daily lives. Whitman examines the impact of agricultural methods; transportation; and the development of machinery, food processing, and preservation methods on the variety of foods in our diet over time. Economic hardship during the Great Depression and the rationing mandated during wars is considered, as are the effects of other historical events and trends. The author also discusses the influences of mass marketing and advertising and brand names and franchising. In its broader look at the American diet, this clearly written volume also offers a concise overview of American history. Sepia-toned photographs and reproductions illustrate the book. The "Exploring History through Simple Recipes" series (Blue Earth) focuses on specific periods and/or locations in American history and will complement Whitman's straightforward approach.-Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822517320
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/28/2001
  • Series: People's History Series
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 1,454,885
  • Age range: 10 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 1120L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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