The Invention of Nutrition
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The idea of "nutrition" as we understand it is relatively recent. Prior to the 19th century, food was more or less just food, with the major concern of nutriment being quantity. But with developments in the fields of organic and biological chemistry, scientists in the 19th century began to recognize that food contained a variety of chemical substances, and soon the deluge began. This paper follows the emergence of nutrition as a science, anchored by the major scientific discoveries in the early days of the field, and the concurrent birth of dietary recommendations. Such recommendations, particularly those issued regularly by the USDA since the 1894, reveal the growing complexity in the last 100 years of our understanding of what constitutes food, and what it means to eat healthfully.