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Louise Morgan (Warwick): ‘The Way We Used to Eat’: Historical Narratives in Twenty-First Century British Clean Eating

‘This book is all about keeping it simple. No food fads, just getting back to good produce in tune with nature. The way we used to eat’. This statement opens Madeleine Shaw’s third book, A Year of Beautiful Eating. Published in 2017, this work joined a broader collection of cookbooks which fell under the broad category of ‘clean eating’. This style of eating was first named by American bodybuilder Tosca Reno in 2007, however it grew to mass popularity in Britain from 2014 onwards, with figures such as Ella Woodward, Amelia Freer, and Shaw playing leading roles. Broadly, clean eating was understood to be a commitment to eating food in as close to its natural state as possible, avoiding any food considered to be processed. This paper looks to examine how clean eaters utilised history to provide legitimacy to their claims. In referring to their grandmothers’ cooking, ancient civilisations, and prehistoric people, clean eaters developed an understanding of the history of food which viewed the broadly defined past as unequivocally healthier and happier. This paper asks whether this phenomenon be understood in terms of Hobsbawm’s ‘invented tradition’? How does this understanding of history benefit those promoting clean eating? 

Marzena Keating (Pedagogical University of Cracow): What’s on the Menu? Invalid and Convalescent Cookery in XX Century Ireland

In the past invalid and convalescent cookery used to be an integral part of a medical treatment as most health care was provided at home. In many cases recovery of health was to be achieved by consuming appropriate food rather than through an application of medicine. While invalid and convalescent cookery was mainly popular prior to the twentieth century, in Ireland it was still apparent until the 1970s. Inspired by the studies conducted by Albala (2012), Adelman (2018) and Williams (2019), this research, based on a qualitative content analysis of the selected Irish culinary texts published from 1910 to 1970, aims to provide an overview of invalid cookery in Ireland. It attempts not only to add to the growing body of scholarship centred on feeding the sick at home in the past but also in a broader context to contribute to the work on Irish culinary history of the twentieth century. During the seminar, a number of research questions will be addressed: Did recommendations concerning invalid cookery change over the researched period? What foods were considered suitable for invalids and convalescents and which ones were deemed unacceptable and why? What elements apart from food constituted the concept of invalid cookery? Who was responsible for looking after invalids and convalescents? Did sickroom guidance refer to medical theories, popular beliefs or folk wisdom?

All welcome - This event is free, but booking is required.