Fear of Food: A History of Why We Worry about What We Eat by Harvey Levenstein - review by Paul Levy

Paul Levy

Stomach Bugs

Fear of Food: A History of Why We Worry about What We Eat


University of Chicago Press 218pp £16

Harvey Levenstein, a Canadian professor of American history, has attitude. He feels an evident urge to be rude about organic food and farming and, more sympathetically, to question the application of the adjective ‘natural’ to anything to do with them. I get the feeling he’d really like to dispute (but in the end, cannot) Michael Pollan’s common-sense maxim, ‘Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.’

He has previously written several books on American eating habits and what anthropologists call American ‘foodways’. The twin inspirations for the new volume were surveys by two of the most eminent academics studying food: the American psychologist Paul Rozin and the French sociologist Claude Fischler. The pair have carried out

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RLF - March