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Food History Exhibits

Guide for students in the CIA's Food History class working on creating an exhibit for the Tober Exhibit Room.

You Are What You [M]eat: The Culture of Meat in 19th - 20th Century America

You Are What You [M]eat: The Culture of Meat in 19th - 20th Century America
Opens December 15, 2017


Food History class (Fall 2017)
Dr. Beth Forrest

Meat has been the centerpiece of the American meal since settlement. Abundant hunted game transformed into large, centralized feedlots; by the 19th century, the average consumption per capita exceeded 150 pounds, annually. Since the 19th century, meat has symbolized masculinity, good health, status, and a rugged environment. It was so desirable to have shaped the American landscape. Yet, at the same time, native peoples, having a long relationship with meat-animals were forced to relocate, health attitudes have shifted, and fear surrounding meat has inspired laws, and moral concerns impelled abstention.

This exhibit considers the cultural role of meat in American society, from the 19th century to the present. By examining various moments and spaces where consumed animals and their consuming humans meet, we seek to contemplate the aphorism, “you are what you [m]eat.”

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