Now in progress, my next book is Small Appetites: A History of Children's Food. Today, many Americans assume that children's food doesn't have much of a history because they assume that children's food preferences are biological. Specifically, many people today believe that children are naturally picky eaters. Who can blame them? Picky eaters are everywhere. For many children, picky eating is an important part of their social identities and their roles within their families.
Yet for all their ubiquity today, picky eaters were rare in earlier times. In fact, many of our most basic beliefs about children’s eating are unprecedented, and that's why I’m so interested in it. The question of what children can or can’t “naturally” eat falls at the intersection of biology and culture, and at the intersection of cultural history and the history of science. Small Appetites traces changes in children's eating -- and changing beliefs about children's eating -- from the early nineteenth century through the end of the twentieth century, a time when childhood itself was undergoing revolutionary changes.