Margaret Mead leaves Samoa to sell brains and stomach to hungry Americans

During World War II, much of America’s domestic meat was being shipped overseas to feed soldiers and allies. As a result, there was a growing concern that a lengthy war would leave the United States protein-starved. The potential solution to this problem lay in what were then called organ meats: hearts, kidneys, liver, brains, stomachs, intestines, and even the feet, ears, and head of cows, hogs, and sheep. The challenge was how to encourage Depression-era Americans to incorporate these into their diet. To do this, the Department of Defense recruited Margaret Mead and dozens of the brightest, and subsequently most famous, psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, food scientists, dieticians, and home economists in the nation. Their task: to make families rush to the dinner table for liverloaf and kidney pie.

(from Brian Wansink, Mindless Eating, p134-135 – more detailed analysis is in Wansink’s “Changing Eating Habits on the Home Front: Lost Lessons from World War II Research,” Journal of Public Policy and Marketing 21:1 (Spring 2002): 90-99.

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