Creamy, sometimes salty, and optimistically yellow, butter is one of my favorite foods. It’s also a scientific and cultural barometer. For the first half of the twentieth century, nutritionists enthusiastically endorsed butter as a good source of energy and part of a healthy, moderate diet. Early government-issued food guides endorsed eating enough food, as public health efforts focused on such problems a nutritional deficiencies and inadequate diets, particularly for children. Since then, increased food availability, changing disease patterns, and additional research have reshaped food and nutrition guidelines, changing perceptions of butter along the way. Butter’s shifting nutritional status provides a window into major developments in dietary advice and public health. The following food guides sought to communicate each historical moment’s…

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If health-conscious people were to choose between diets recommending natural or processed food products, which would they choose? The language of dietary advice today is dominated by notions of nature, organic farming, and organic products. It seems that such labels are very appealing to people wanting to live more healthy lifestyles. Only 40 years ago, however, health experts and dietitians in the Polish People’s Republic used a far different language to convince their beneficiaries to eat certain foods. It was the language of science, industry and technology. Embracing Technology In 1970s media discourse, the word “natural” was hardly ever used; both in cookbooks and women’s magazines. It was obvious then that vegetables, fruit, mushrooms and milk were all-natural. What seemed…

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