Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Victorian cities, scandalous food

Giles Coren presented a very good programme on Radio 4 today: Food, a Scandalous History.

Coren compared the modern horse meat scandal in the UK to the widespread practice of food adulteration in Victorian Britain, where a newly urbanised proletariat were simultaneously cut off from traditional food production practices and placed at the mercy of an unregulated push for profit in cheap foodstuffs. Death from food contamination was common, with adulteration practiced widely - such as using plaster of paris and ground bone to bulk out flour (The Great Lozenge Maker, Punch 1858, above).

I recently found another fascinating resource on historical food adulteration (on Tumblr) - the fantastically bound "Death in the Pot", A Treatise on the Adulterations of Food, published in 1820.