Measured Meals

Nutrition in America

By Jessica J. Mudry

Subjects: Composition And Rhetoric Studies, American Studies, American Culture, Food, Health And Society
Paperback : 9780791493823, 224 pages, January 2010
Hardcover : 9780791493816, 224 pages, February 2009

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

1. Introduction
Eating by Numbers: How Language Shapes Food and Eating
2. The Early History of American Nutrition Research: From Quality to Quantity
3. Reading Federal Nutrition Guides: Quantification as Communication Strategy
4. The Food Pyramid: Visualizing Quantification
5. Scaling the Pyramid: Criticisms of the USDA
6. Talking about Taste: Alternatives to a Discourse of Quantification
7. Conclusion
Rethinking Common Sense: Toward a Rhetoric of Eating Notes

Provides an alternative history of nutrition in the U.S. that focuses on the power of scientific language.


2009 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

As nutritional studies proliferate, producing more and more knowledge about the connection between diet and health, Americans seem increasingly confused about what to eat to stay healthy. In Measured Meals, Jessica J. Mudry looks at the language used in the United States to communicate about health and nutrition, and reveals its effects on reframing, reshaping, and controlling what and how Americans eat. Analyzing the USDA and American federal food guidelines over the past one hundred years, Mudry shows how the language of nutrition has evolved over time. She critiques the trend of discussing food in terms of quantification—calories, vitamins, and serving sizes. She also examines how organizations such as the USDA attempt to legislate a healthy diet by mandating quantities of food based on measurable nutrients, revealing the power of language to make meaning and influence social action.

Jessica J. Mudry is Assistant Professor of Science and Technical Communication at Concordia University.


"Given the prominence of caloric monitoring in American society today, Jessica J. Mudry's Measured Meals is an important and overdue historical evaluation of the rise of quantitative epistemologies surrounding food and eating … Measured Meals makes a substantial contribution to discourses about food." — Gastronomica

"…a thoughtful, well-researched work that serves as an excellent resource for understanding the complexities involved in Americans' relationship to food and nutrition." — CHOICE

"This is a fascinating rhetorical criticism and history of our cultural addiction to quantification as a means of communicating about food and eating." — Kathleen LeBesco, coeditor of Edible Ideologies: Representing Food and Meaning