Measured Meals: Nutrition in America by Jessica J. Mudry

By Jessica J. Mudry

Provides an alternate background of foodstuff within the U.S. that makes a speciality of the ability of clinical language.

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Extra resources for Measured Meals: Nutrition in America

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He believed that calories were the human fuel, and he conceived the body as a combustion engine. This parallel allowed Rubner to extend the first law of thermodynamics, the law of conservation of energy, to people. The room calorimeter fit Rubner’s concept of the closed system body/machine, in which he could ensure that the total energy of the system remained constant. Rubner had people enter the room calorimeter and perform a variety of tasks for which he measured the output of respiration gases.

In order to determine human metabolism calculations, Atwater used his new technology in conjunction with a bomb calorimeter. The bomb calorimeter allowed Atwater to burn foods to determine their energy values as well as burning the excreted products of the room calorimeter’s human subject. Used together, both apparatuses could measure the body’s energy expenditure as the difference between the food input and human “output” (Wiggen, 1993). The room calorimeter was capable of amazingly precise measurements of human metabolism.

While chemical catabolism occurred in the laboratory, creating new knowledge about food, the laboratory lexicon served as the new language to discuss it. The terms of science were old, but their application to food was new. In these early experiments, a scientific language was mobilized to make food a quantifiable entity. A cool, creamy glass of milk became 150 calories and a measurable ratio of fat, proteins, and carbohydrates. The scientific and systematic analysis of foods by the USDA created both knowledge about food and a method for its communication.

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