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Sugar in Settler Colonial Culture in Canada: What Home-Ec Cookbooks Reveal

Sugar is one of the most controversial foods available today. Blamed for health problems ranging from diabetes to tooth decay to heart disease to gout, it is often cited as nutrition's number one enemy.

How did we all become such avid sugar consumers? Historians Donica Belisle and Daylene Sliz of the University of Regina address this question by probing the history of Canadian cookbooks. Looking at the most popular English language home economics cookbooks of the 20th century, including Nellie Pattinson's The Canadian Cook Book, this talk reveals the rise of Canadian sugar consumption over time, as well as the central place sugar has held in English Canadian diets.

On a broader note, the relationship between home economics and colonialism is also addressed. Canadian home economists before 1970 stressed efficiency, modernization, and health. Yet they also tended to equate these values with whiteness. Serving up modern "Canadian" food, Canadian home economists contributed to the dietary colonization of northern North America.

This talk will be around 40 minutes long, after which there will be plenty of time for discussion.

This talk is supported by funding from the University of Regina and the Social Sciences of Humanities Research Council of Canada.

More information:

Date ( Add to your Calendar)
Wednesday, August 26, 2020
2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

How to Connect
To obtain the Zoom link, please register at

Donica Belisle