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The Value of a Calorie: Food Policies and the Making of Standards of Living in Mid-20th Century Romania (2021-2022)


Publication: 10.58367/NECY.ODO.2022.1
Field of study: History

My paper proposes a historical account of the genealogy of nutritional standards in Romania from the 1930s until the late 1950s, documenting the strategies behind turning “food” into “nutrition” and “nutrition” into a domain of political concern and governmental intervention. Using archival information, I argue that while central to the socialist state’s effort to recalibrate planning and distribution programs and ground industrialization and urbanization, these nutrition policies echo social outcomes of development worldwide and flesh out multiple possibilities of scaled analysis (global, regional, and national) in the context
of the Great Depression, WWII, postwar food rationing, and postwar welfare. Consequently, instead of substantiating the interwar and the postwar as two distinctive political systems, my paper aims to show that postwar approaches to food policies should be linked with a political economy of the workforce that first became transparent in 1930s Europe.

Keywords: nutrition, food, science, Romania, development, postwar reconstruction

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