“Before Minneapolis, There Was Good Bread”: Corporations and the Enrichment of White Bread Flour
Join us for a Brown Bag Lecture by Michael Lansing, Doan Fellow at the Science History Institute.
Just months before the United States entered World War II, the 1941 National Nutrition Conference for Defense challenged white-bread flour producers to enrich their products with the vitamins stripped away by industrial processes. Medical professionals, home economists, policy makers, and chemists insisted that adding vitamins to the primary ingredient in nearly 40% of the nation’s diet would improve public health as well as ensure battlefield success. Notably, the nation’s largest bread-flour and vitamin supplement makers, such as General Mills and Merck, advocated for enrichment long before the conference. Consumer critiques, falling flour sales, and interest in new markets pushed these companies to encourage—not resist—federal intervention.
About the Speaker
Michael J. Lansing is an associate professor of history at Augsburg University. His current project is The Cradle of Carbohydrates: Minneapolis and the Making of the World’s Food, an environmental history of the city’s central role in the invention and global propagation of industrial carbohydrates. He has received long-term fellowships from the Newberry Library and the Minnesota Historical Society as well as awards from the Western History Association, the Midwestern History Association, the Montana Historical Society, and the Utah State Historical Society.
Michael’s publications include Insurgent Democracy: The Nonpartisan League in North American Politics (University of Chicago Press, 2015), the coauthored The American West: A Concise History (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008), and articles in the Western Historical Quarterly, Environmental History, the Journal of Historical Geography, the Middle West Review, the Utah Historical Quarterly, and Ethics, Place, and Environment. He is currently a member of the editorial board of the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.
About the Series
Brown Bag Lectures (BBLs) are a series of (mostly) weekly, informal talks on the history of chemistry or related subjects, including the history and social studies of science, technology, and medicine. Based on original research (sometimes still in progress), these talks are given by local scholars for an audience of the Institute staff and fellows and interested members of the public.