In a conversation with radio host Frank Stasio, Michael Lansing, history professor and chair of the history department at Augsburg University, explores the beginnings of processed food in America. Lansing takes a step back to the 1870’s, the root of the industrial food take off in the diet of Americans.
He identified processed meat, canned food, and carbohydrates as the three primary sectors in this new diet. Lansing touched on some factors that affected the change of diets, declaring that intensive marketing campaigns convinced consumers to believe industrial food was better for their lifestyle. Cheap railroad transportation and the negotiations made by mass producers allowed them to sell at a cheaper price than local makers. In the early 20th century, more people began to move from rural to urban areas, which reduced the opportunity to farm their own food, making industrial food more reliable, explains Lansing.