I didn’t learn that amidst all the numbers and projections tossed around at the forum. I learned it over a dish of crab cake and coleslaw at Jose Andres’ America Eats restaurant, just around the corner from the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover building.
America Eats opened last Fourth of July for a yearlong run as a benefit supporting the National Archives’ “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” exhibit, an in-depth look at the role the federal government has played in farming and the eating habits of the American people from horse-and-plow days to today.
According to the exhibit, the government has had a hand in the production, regulation, research and economics of food for more than 100 years.
It has variously told Americans to grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables or support farmers, to eat carp or cottage cheese, to go meatless on Mondays or have beef for dinner.
It’s tweaked official nutritional guidelines many times — during World War II, butter had its own category, fruits and vegetables were split up into three groups, and Americans were urged to “in addition to the basic seven ... eat any other foods you want.”