The obsession with “clean eating” in the United States may seem new, but it’s actually been around for quite a while. In the 1800s, religious and social reformers began to emphasize the importance of eating a healthy diet. Over time, more and more people became interested in “health food,” though such sentiments were often considered unusual.
By the ’60s and ’70s, healthy eating, vegetarianism and a concern about the use of pesticides and food additives became more mainstream. Health food stores and restaurants began cropping up around the country and eventually terms like “vegetarian,” “vegan,” “whole grain” and “organic” became household words.
Want to know more about how Americans became so concerned about the food we eat? Read on.
Did you know that two of America’s favorite foods were invented by health food pioneers? Born in 1794, Sylvester Graham was a clergyman who preached a gospel of healthy eating. He opposed the consumption of white flour products and advocated the consumption of whole grains, including the eponymous crackers that we all love. Later in the century, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and his brother would accidentally invent corn flakes, and Dr. Kellogg’s brother Will started the brand that we now know as Kellogg’s.
Did you know that the Pure Food and Drug Act, passed in 1906, was the first federal consumer protection law that regulated food products? The act regulated the kinds of ingredients that could be used in foods offered for sale and forced manufacturers to be more honest in food labeling.
Did you know that the oldest health food store in the United States opened in 1869? Now known as Martindale Natural Market, it is based in Oil City, Pennsylvania. Interestingly, the store began stocking special foods for diabetics in 1909.
Did you know that the United States Department of Agriculture developed standards for organic farming after the U.S. Organic Foods Production Act passed in 1990? In 2002, suppliers who met organic standards could display the USDA’s organic seal on their product labels.