Mossman Lecture: You Are What You Eat, Historical Changes in Ideas about Food and Identity
The Mossman Endowment presents the D Lorne Gales Lecture in the History of Science featuring guest lecturer Steven Shapin, Franklin L. Ford Professor, History of Science, Harvard University
The relationship between what you eat and who you are has been understood very differently in different historical settings. Now we believe that both our bodies and our foods are made of chemicals and that our health depends upon taking in the right combination and amounts of food constituents. But in the past both physicians and laity believed that the virtues and powers of foods might become your virtues and powers. If you ate rabbit, you might become timid while beef-eating might make you bold. These are very different idioms for thinking about food in relation to personal and collective identity, and this talk explores what changing idioms mean for changing notions of what people are like and how they come to be the way they are.
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