In an earlier blog, I wrote about our project to document food related articles in BC historical journals.  I annotated the articles I identified in BC Studies: The British Columbia Quarterly, a scholarly journal that published peer-reviewed research.

Each issue also featured book reviews.  In the early guidelines for BC Studies, Margaret Prang suggested that three or four book reviews per issue should be featured (1993). She also mentioned that there had been a dramatic increase in the publication of books about British Columbia over the years which made it increasingly difficult for the editor to select books to be reviewed.  This might account for the increasing number of book reviews. In some issues the number of book reviews is significantly higher than three or four.  The books reviewed vary from academic research accounts to biographies and memoirs.  The books with topics related to food (access, production, consumption) were documented. Click  Book Reviews related to Food History in BC Studies   or go to the Food History Resource tab.

It is not a definitive list as there may be many references that were not submitted for review or not selected to be reviewed.  But usually books selected for review may be considered significant in terms of the mandate of the journal.  They involve an exploration of British Columbia’s cultural, economic, and political life; past and present.  The book review list offers an indication of what food history topics are getting the most attention and where there may be gaps in the literature.

Rachel Laudan  a U.S. food studies scholar, suggests that there are at least six “histories” that could be part of food studies:

  • Culinary history focusing on what cooks knew how to prepare at a given time.
  • Dietary history dealing with what people actually ate in the past.
  • Nutritional history addressing how people’s diet affected their health and well-being
  • History of dining and manners – how people consumed their food and the rules they followed
  • History of theories of diet – what professionals have said in the past about what we should eat
  • History of foodstuffs – concentrating on a particular ingredient or commodity

In looking over the list of books that have been reviewed in BC Studies, it appears that the history of fish and the fishing industry has been the primary food –related interest of history scholars as articles of that nature far out-number all the other categories. This demonstrates that there are lots of opportunities for food historians to explore food in BC; its production, politics, culture, and cuisine.

Laudan, R. (n.d.). Rachel Laudan: A historian’s take on food and politics.

Prang, M. 1993). Retrospective: Twenty-five years of BC Studies, BC Studies: The British Columbia Quarterly, (100), 13-20.