Amy Bentley

Associate Professor of Food Studies

Amy Bentley

Phone: 212.998.5580

Amy Bentley is Associate Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University. A historian with interests in the social, historical, and cultural contexts of food, her publications include Inventing Baby Food: Taste, Health, and the Industrialization of the American Diet (University of California Press, 2014) (inventingbabyfood.com), Eating for Victory: Food Rationing and the Politics of Domesticity (University of Illinois, 1998), A Cultural History of Food in the Modern Era(editor) (Berg, 2011), as well as articles on such diverse topics as the politics of southwestern cuisine, a historiography of food riots, and the cultural implications of the Atkins diet. Bentley is co-founder of the Experimental Cuisine Collective, an interdisciplinary group of scientists, food studies scholars and chefs who study the intersection of science and food, co-founder of the NYU Urban Farm Lab, and also serves as a Faculty Fellow in Residence at Brittany Hall at NYU. She is Editor of Food, Culture, and Society: An International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, and is a board member for the journals Food and Foodways and the Graduate Journal of Food Studies.

Research Interests

  • cultural and social histories of food
  • discourses of dieting, nutrition and health in American culture
  • theories of infant feeding
  • history of the baby food industry
  • taste and sustainable food systems

Degrees Held

  • Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania 1992
    American Civilization

Editorial/Advisory Boards

  • Food, Culture and Society: An International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, Editor
  • Israeli Association for Culinary Culture, Advisory Board
  • International Center for Food and Culture, Advisory Board
  • Food and Foodways: Exploration in the History and Culture of Human Nourishment, Editorial Board
  • Graduate Journal of Food Studies, Advisory Board

Selected Publications

  • Bentley, Amy. Inventing Baby Food: Taste, Health, and the Industrialization of the American Diet. University of California Press (September, 2014). (link)
  • Bentley, Amy. Editor and "Introduction." A Cultural History of Food in the Modern Era (Berg Publishers, 2011). (view)
  • Bentley, Amy. Eating for Victory: Food Rationing and the Politics of Domesticity (Urbana: The University of Illinois Press, 1998). (view)
  • Bentley, Amy, et al. "TED Studies: Sustainable Consumption - Reworking the Western Diet" (August 2013). Also available on ITunesU. (link)
  • Yelvington, Kevin A. and Amy Bentley, "Mintz, Sidney," in R. Jon McGee and Richard L. Warms (eds.), Theory in Social and Cultural Anthropology: An Encyclopedia, Los Angeles: Sage Reference (2013), pp. 548-552. (view)
  • Bentley, Amy. "Sustenance, Abundance, and the Place of Food in United States Histories." In Kyri Claflin and Peter Scholliers, eds. Global Food Historiography: Researchers, Writers, & the Study of Food (Berg, 2012), pp.72-86. (view)
  • Bentley, Amy. "The Frontiers of Food Studies," with Belasco et al. Food, Culture and Society, Vol, 14, No. 3, (September, 2011):301-314. (view)
  • Bentley, Amy. "Eating in Class: Gastronomy, Taste, Nutrition, and Teaching Food History," with Bender at al. Radical History Review, 110 (Spring 2011): 197-216. (view)
  • Bentley, Amy. "Historians and the Study of Material Culture," with Auslander, et al. American Historical Review, 114(December 2009): 1355-1404. (view)
  • Bentley, Amy. “Introduction” and Guest Editor, “Sweetness and Power: Rethinking Sidney Mintz’s Classic Work.” Food and Foodways, Vol. 16, No. 2(2008). (view)
  • Bentley, Amy. "The Politics on Our Plates." The Chronicle Review (Chronicle of Higher Education), Volume LIII, No. 8(October 18 2006): B13-B15. (link)
  • Bentley, Amy. “Booming Baby Food: Infant Food and Feeding in Post-World War II America.” Michigan Historical Review 32, 2(Fall 2006): 63-88. (view)
  • Bentley, Amy. "Men on Atkins: Dieting, Meat, and Masculinity." In The Atkins Diet and Philosophy, eds. Lisa Heldke, et al, (Chicago and La Salle, IL: Open Court Press, 2005): 185-195. (view)
  • Bentley, Amy. "The Other Atkins Revolution: Atkins and the Shifting Culture of Dieting." Gastronomica 4, 3(August 2004): 34-45. (view)
  • Bentley, Amy. "From Culinary Other to Mainstream American: Meanings and Uses of Southwestern Cuisine." In Culinary Tourism: Explorations in Eating and Otherness, ed., Lucy M. Long (University of Kentucky Press, 2004): 209-225. (view)
  • Bentley, Amy. "Islands of Serenity: The Icon of the Ordered Meal in World War II." In Food and Culture in the United States: A Reader, ed., Carol Counihan (Routledge, 2002):171-192.
  • Bentley, Amy. "Reading Food Riots: Scarcity, Abundance, and National Identity." In Food, Drink and Identities, ed., Peter Scholliers (Oxford and New York: Berg, 2001): 179-183 (view)
  • Bentley, Amy. "Inventing Baby Food: Gerber and the Discourse of Infancy in the United States." In Food Nations: Selling Taste in Consumer Societies, eds. Warren Belasco and Phillip Scranton (Routledge, 2001): 92-112. (view)
  • Bentley, Amy. "Martha's Food: Whiteness of a Certain Kind." American Studies, 42:2 (Summer 2001): 5-29. (view)
  • Bentley, Amy. "American Abundance Examined: David M. Potter's Paradox of Plenty and the Study of Food." Digest: An Interdisciplinary Study of Food and Foodways 15(1995): 20-24. (view)
  • Bentley, Amy. "Uneasy Sacrifice: The Politics of United States Famine Relief, 1945-48." Agriculture and Human Values 11,4(1994): 4-18. (view)


  • 2014 : NYU Humanities Initiative Grant-in-Aid
  • 2012 : NYU Green Grant Award: The NYU Urban Farm Lab (Co-investigator)
  • 2011 : Teaching Excellence Award, Steinhardt School, New York University
  • 2011 : Award for Food Studies Pedagogy, Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS)
  • 2010 : Humanities Council Grant-In-Aid, "Foundation to Innovation," (Co-investigator)
  • 2010 : Smithsonian Senior Research Fellowship, National Museum of American History
  • 2008 : Professional Development Award, Dean's Office, Steinhardt School of Culture Education and Human Development
  • 2007 : University Research Challenge Fund Award, "Experimental Gastronomy: The Kitchen as an Intersection of Research in Science and the Humanities" (Co-investigator)
  • 2007 : Humanities Council Research Working Group Award, "Experimental Cuisine: The Kitchen as an Intersection of Science and the Humanities" (Co-director)

Selected Presentations

  • "The Problem of Deliciousness in Sustainable Food Systems," Yale Food Systems Symposium, 14 November 2014.
  • "Baby Food and the Industrial Diet." University of Indiana, Bloomington, 29 October 2014.
  • "The Taste of Baby Food at Midcentury" ASFS annual meeting, Burlington, Vermont, 20 June 2014.
  • Panelist, "System + Taste: Food in Postcolonial Hawai'i." A/P/A Institute, New York University, 27 March 2014.(view)
  • "The Omnivore's Dilemma: The Problem of Deliciousness in Systainable Food Systems." Sociology of Food Colloquium, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 27 February 2014.
  • "Inventing Baby Food: Taste, Health, and the Industrialization of the American Diet," University of Erfurt, Erfurt, Germany, 15 January 2014.
  • Keynote address, "The History of Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices in the United States," Workshop on the Prevention of Obesity in Infancy and Early Childhood, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institute of Heal
  • “Sackler Brain Bench: Why We Eat What We Eat,” American Museum of Natural History, 8 May 2013.
  • Consultant, Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture. American Museum of Natural History, New York City, November 17, 2012-August 11, 2013.
  • Keynote Address, "The Omnivore's Dilemma: The Problem of Deliciousness in Sustainable Food Systems," Fortieth Annual Adelphi History Conference: Food and the Social Sciences, Adelphi University, 22 April 2013. (view)
  • “Baby Food in America: History, Culture, Health,” American Studies Brown Bag Seminar, Cornell University, 18 April 2013.
  • Moderator and Comment, "The Truth and the Facts: Food Inequality on Long Island," Institute for Social Research and Community Engagement, Adelphi University, 9 April 2013.
  • Panelist, "Feeding Our Kids, Feeding the Future: What It Says About Us, Its Real Impact, and What We Can Do About It," Fales Library Lecture Series, New York University, 28 March 2013.(view)
  • Session Chair and Comment, "Culinary Occupations: Migratory Identities and the Geopolitics of Public Food Consumption." American Studies Association Annual Meeting, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 18 November 2012.
  • Session Comment, "Wartime Cookbooks: Artifacts of Home Front Culture, Tools of Social Engineering, Narratives of Survival." The Roger Smith Cookbook Conference, 8 Feburary 2013, New York City
  • "Baby Food in Counterculture America." Food + History: From Theory to Practice, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, May 4-5 2012.
  • "Baby Food and the Industrialization of Taste." University Seminar on Food, George Washington University. 26 March 2012.
  • "Food History: Why Should We Care?" The New School. 21 March 2012, 6-8 p.m.
  • "Baby Food and the Industrialization of Taste," Friends of the Institute for Advanced Study, 9 March 2012.(view)
  • "Inventing Baby Food: The Industrialization of Taste in the United States," Columbia University American Studies Seminar, 1 March 2012.
  • “Baby Food and the Twentieth Century American Palate.”

 Brown University, 3 May 2011.
  • Keynote address, "The Poetics and Pragmatics of Deliciousness." Food! The Conference! 2011 CUNY English Student Association Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference, 18 March 2011.
  • Session Chair, "The Righteous Fast: Nation of Islam, Mormon, Jewish, and Christian Perspectives." American Historical Association Annual Meeting, Boston, MA, 6 January 2011.
  • Keynote speaker, Food Justice: Community, Equity, Sustainability, University of Oregon, 19-21 February 2011.
  • Presentation, "Meals Tomorrow," at the conference Food for Tomorrow: New Perspectives on Invention and Innovation, Lemelson Center at the National Museum of American History, Washington DC, November 5-6, 2010.
  • "New York University Food Studies: Sustainable Community Initiatives," University of Vermont, 10 September, 2009.
  • Panel member, "Where We Are," Curating Food Collections, New York University Fales Library Symposium, 6 March 2010
  • "Food Politics, Sustainability and Citizenship: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue," Annual Meeting of the American Studies Association, Washington, DC, 6 November 2009.
  • "State of the Field: Food History," Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA, 26 March 2009.
  • "Ketchup As A Vegetable: Condiments, Culture, and the Politics of School Lunch," American Historical Association Annual Meeting, New York City, January 2009.
  • Panel member, "American Studies at the Intersection of Food and Health in America: Science, Policy and Culture," American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Albuquerque, NM, October 2008.
  • "Sweetness and Power: Rethinking Sidney Mintz's Classic Work," Putting Gender on the Table: Men, Women, and Food. Radcliffe Conference on Gender and Food, Cambridge, MA, 11 April 2007.
  • "American Food in the Depression and World War II," at the America Eats Symposium hosted by the Culinary Historians of New York, 21 April 2007.
  • Keynote address: "Food Studies at NYU: Pleasures and Pitfalls." Founding Food Studies conference at University of California, Davis, 3 May 2006.(view)


  • Spring 2013: FOOD-GE 2061 - Research Applications
  • Spring 2013: FOOD-GE 2191 - Food and Culture: Intensive Graduate Seminar in New Orleans
  • Fall 2013: FOOD-GE 2191:  Food and Culture
  • Spring 2014/Summer 2014: FOOD-GE 2012 - Food History
  • Fall 2014:FOOD-GE 2191: Food and Culture
  • January 2015: Global Food Cultures: Mexico