26 Jan. 2024 — 12:00 noon — GAR 1.102

Xaq Frohlich (Auburn University)

Book Talk: From Label to Table

This talk draws from my book, From Label to Table: Regulating Food in America in the Information Age (UC Press, 2023), which is a history of the emergence of the Information Age in food and diet markets. By following the history of policy debates about food labels at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), from the 1930s to 1990s, I’ll describe evolving popular preoccupations of diet and personal responsibility for health, and the consequences of packaged food economy for food retailing and marketing. In particular, I discuss the FDA’s transition from an earlier philosophy of regulating markets through “standards of identity,” which were codified traditional recipes, to a new philosophy, still governing today, that relies on informative food labels, such as ingredient panels and the Nutrition Facts label. I’ll conclude the talk by discussing ways historians can critically engage policymakers using history, in this case drawing lessons from past food labeling debates to challenge key assumptions that underly many policies in U.S. food governance today.


Xaq Frohlich is an associate professor of history of technology at Auburn University. He earned his BA in History at UT and his PhD in STS at MIT and was a visiting research fellow of UT’s Institute for Historical Studies in 2016–2017. His research focuses on the intersection of science, law, and markets, and how the three have shaped modern, everyday understandings of food, risk, and responsibility.