Adrienne Rose Johnson



Areas of Interest
Utopia, Food, Popular Culture

The American Diet Book Dreamland


My research combines literary analysis of diet books with a medical history of Western disease. Titled Diet and the Disease of Civilization, 1977-2008, my dissertation analyzes how instructional texts — diet books, nutrition policy, medical research — have measured civilization by the human costs of social progress.

Other academic publications include articles on competitive eating, Paleo diet mythologies, dude ranches, locavorism, and grocery store couponing. I also write for popular, non-academic audiences in BuzzFeed Food and Gastronomica.

Select Publications:

  • “For the Starving, Eat ‘Local’ Isn’t an Option.”  The Wall Street Journal.  3 December 2013. A15.
“Nation’s ‘Wellness’ Promotion Is Misguided.”  San Francisco Chronicle. 7 August 2013. A7.
”Romancing the Dude Ranch, 1926–1947.” Western Historical Quarterly 43.4 (Winter 2012): 437-461.
  • “The Magic Metabolisms of Competitive Eating.” Taking Food Public: Redefining Foodways in a Changing World. Eds. Carole Counihan and Psyche Williams-Forson. New York: Routledge, 2011.
  • “The Paleo Diet and an American Weight Loss Utopia, 1977-2014.” Utopian Studies. Special Issue: Utopian Foodways. Vol. 25, No. 2, forthcoming Spring 2015.

Select Fellowships and Grants:

  • 2012 Alex McIntosh Essay Prize, Association for the Study of Food and Society
  • 2012  Marjorie Lozoff Essay Prize, Clayman Institute for Gender Research;
  • 2014 Sue Samuelson Foodways Essay Prize, American Folklore Society