A Bun in the OvenHow the Food and Birth Movements Resist Industrialization

A Bun in the OvenHow the Food and Birth Movements Resist Industrialization

Barbara Katz Rothman

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9781479855308

Publisher: NYU Press


There are people dedicated to improving the way we eat, and people dedicated to improving the way we give birth. A Bun in the Oven is the first comparison of these two social movements. In this book Barbara Katz Rothman traces the food and the birth movements through three major phases over the course of the 20th century in the United States: from the early-20th-century era of scientific management; through to the consumerism of post–World War II with its “turn to the French” in making things gracious; to the late-20th-century counterculture midwives and countercuisine cooks. Katz Rothman then looks at today’s world of risk management in both arenas. The book explores the tension throughout all of these eras between the industrial demands of mass management and profit making, and the social movements—composed largely of women coming together from very different feminist sensibilities—that are working to expose the harmful consequences of industrialization, and make birth and food both meaningful and healthy. In both movements, issues of the natural, the authentic, and the importance of “meaningful” and “personal” experiences get balanced against discussions of what is sensible, convenient, and safe, operating in a context of commercial and corporate interests that place profit and efficiency above individual experiences and outcomes. A Bun in the Oven brings new insight into the relationship between our most intimate, embodied personal experiences, the industries that control them, and the social movements that resist the industrialization of life and seek to birth change.