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Articles by Anna Zeide

Anna is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she spends her days cooking, eating, blogging, writing a dissertation on the history of canned food in America, working as the food intern for the environmental dorm on campus, and teaching a freshman food ethics seminar.

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Photo: Library of Congress

I have always had an impulse to record my world. Hand-written letters are my favorite birthday present (for myself and others). My emails go on and on, full of emotion and detail. I jot descriptions of everything happening around me whenever I find myself sitting still with a few minutes to spare.

I’ve felt this need since I was a kid, but the intent behind it has subtly changed since I have taken up historical work over the past five years.

Now, it is just these kinds of records, from people of times past, that I conceive of as the ultimate treasure, the jackpot.

I can find thousands of pages describing how the industrial canners or home economists of the early 20th century thought about canned food. It’s easy to find journalistic or scientific accounts of food poisoning. And yet, what’s so much more difficult (near impossible!) to find is the letter of the Arkansas farmwife in which she recounts her... Read more

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