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Book and Media Reviews
July 26, 2006

History of Nutrition

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2006;296(4):450-455. doi:10.1001/jama.296.4.450-b

This book's title suggests a treatise on adulterated food. That topic is indeed addressed, but as the subtitle indicates, there is considerably more.

The chapter “In the Beginning” concerns the history of nutritional theorizing and research efforts, which go back to Vesalius and even Hippocrates. As knowledge of the chemistry of foods expanded, so did theories and research. Much of the early knowledge came from the laboratory of Justus von Liebig (1803-1873). Liebig was the first to attempt to grapple with the science of nutrition. He helped clarify the composition and quality of meat, found that acid substances could replace yeast in the baking of bread, and attempted, unsuccessfully, to produce instant coffee. In 1840 he wrote Organic Chemistry and its Applications to Agricultural Chemistry.

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