Publication details for Professor Peter AtkinsAtkins, P.J. (2011). The material histories of food quality and composition. Endeavour 35(2-3): 74-79.
- Publication type: Journal Article
- ISSN/ISBN: 0160-9327 (print)
- DOI: 10.1016/j.endeavour.2011.06.003
- Further publication details on publisher web site
- Durham Research Online (DRO) - may include full text
Author(s) from Durham
This article argues for material histories of food. In recent decades food historians have tended to emphasize the cultural factors in consumption, in addition to the already well-established social, political and economic perspectives, but what is still missing is the stuff in foodstuffs. With reference in particular to milk and wine, the suggestion here is that physical and chemical composition is a major influence in what we might call the biographies of particular items of food and drink. Product characteristics are rarely static for long and today's mass-produced bread is different from that of the past, but then so are the flour, the yeast, and the even the butter that is spread on it. Adulteration was a particularly interesting aspect of composition in the nineteenth century and was the key to the emergence of two different traditions of understanding and valuing food quality.