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Dietary Ethnogenesis? An Examination of Dietary Patterns at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Potter’s Field, California

Author(s): Julia Prince-Buitenhuys

Year: 2017

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Summary

Previous research into 19th century dietary variation within the United States has found significant variation based on social class, ancestry, and region. However, research to date has not systematically examined the specific social, cultural, and economic factors that contribute to dietary variation found throughout the United States during the 19th century. This study examines stable isotopes of carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen to examine the relationship between ethnic preferences, regional specialization, and socioeconomic status and diet among individuals interred at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center potter’s field (1870 - circa 1935). The results demonstrate that local agricultural industry and low socioeconomic status play more important roles in explaining dietary patterns than ancestry or ethnic differences at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. Despite cultural preferences in food preparation, the ingredients regularly consumed are often isotopically similar. This factor likely explains some of the variation observed in diet across the 19th century United States. Stable isotope analysis provides a useful tool for exploring the relationship between the development of agricultural industries and dietary patterns, and provides an avenue to research how socioeconomic status related to food choices in the 19th century United States.


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Dietary Ethnogenesis? An Examination of Dietary Patterns at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Potter’s Field, California. Julia Prince-Buitenhuys. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428969)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17075

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America