Lecture to discuss baby food’s effect on adult diets

Students who want to know more about food and its effects will have the chance at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the Science and Engineering Classroom, Room 105. Amy Bentley, associate professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University, will give a lecture entitled, “Baby Food and the American Industrial Diet.”

Bentley’s lecture, based off her book, “Inventing Baby Food: Taste, Health, and the Industrialization of the American Diet,” aims to look at how baby food reflects society’s ideas about food.

“I wrote a book on the subject, which arose from my experiences as a mother of a new infant, who is now almost 20 years old,” Bentley said.

“I wondered what and how did parents feed their children before the rise of commercial baby food. I also was captivated by the branding, advertising and marketing of baby food, which thoroughly entwined the idea of being a good, loving mother with feeding your baby a particular brand of baby food.”

Bentley also explores how what people are fed as infants has promoted diets that include highly processed food.

“The tastes and textures of baby food, especially in the mid-twentieth century, when it was full of salt, sugar and fillers (it’s better today), helped acclimate Americans to the tastes and textures of highly industrially processed food products, which are contributing to many of our health and nutrition problems,” Bentley said.

Bentley’s lecture is part of the Food for Thought lecture series, presented by UH’s Center for Public History Gulf Coast Food Project. The series promotes scholarly study of food in the Texas Gulf Coast Region.

“The Food for Thought Lecture series presents some of the leading voices in food studies scholarship from both the UH faculty and renowned outside scholars to a public audience on the UH campus,” said Todd Romero, associate professor of history and co-director of the Gulf Coast Food Project.

“We intend to spark interest in food studies broadly and in Texas Gulf Coast food history and culture.”

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