Not by Bread Alone: America's Culinary Heritage

Food Processing
horizontal rule
Nineteenth century technological invention and mass manufacturing set the stage for the corporate domination of food production and distribution in the 20th century. The development of the refrigerated railroad car, and an expanding network of railroads, meant that meat and produce from the West and Midwest could be shipped to densely populated Eastern cities. This phenomenon radically changed the eating habits of America in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

Soon, regional markets gave way to national, signature brand names and trademarks. Large businesses rushed to capture market share, consolidate the power behind it, build brand name recognition, and effectively drive smaller producers out of business. Manufacturers increasingly used trademarks and other nationally recognizable identifiers and labels to distinguish their products.

Although the market for processed foods expanded rapidly, at first it was also unstable, because of public uncertainty about product quality. The government responded by creating federal regulatory bodies and legislation designed to ensure consumer confidence and market stability. Production standards were also introduced in the canning, freezing and meat processing industries.

continue to Credits

early cookbooks
american taste
the elegant table
temperance and prohibition
food nutrition and science
corpulency, leanes, and dietary reform
kitchen technology
food processing and manufacture


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