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A Geography of Digestion: Biotechnology and the Kellogg Cereal Enterprise, 1890–1900

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UMI
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
Los Angeles
A Geography of Digestion:
Biotechnology and the Kellogg Cereal Enterprise,
1890-1900
A dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction of the
requirements for the degree Doctor of Philosophy
in Geography
by
Nicholas Burket Bauch
2010
UMI Number: 3451047
All rights reserved
INFORMATION TO ALL USERS
The quality of this reproduction is dependent upon the quality of the copy submitted.
In the unlikely event that the author did not send a complete manuscript
and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if material had to be removed,
a note will indicate the deletion.
UMT
Dissertation Publishing
UMI 3451047
Copyright 2011 by ProQuest LLC.
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unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code.
uest
ProQuest LLC
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P.O. Box 1346
Ann Arbor, Ml 48106-1346
© Copyright by
Nicholas Burket Bauch
2010
The dissertation of Nicholas Burket Bauch is approved.
A^
John Agnew
Norton Wise
Michael Curry, Committee Chair
University of California, Los Angeles
2010
n
Dedicated to the memory of
Denis Cosgrove
in
Table of Contents
List of Figures
v
Acknowledgements
viii
Vita
xii
Abstract
xv
Preface
1
Chapter 1: Introduction and Theoretical Considerations
5
Chapter 2: Kellogg's Hygienic Philosophy and the Battle Creek Sanitarium
31
Chapter 3: Scientific Eating
72
Chapter 4: Hydrology and the Urban Landscape
96
Chapter 5: The Systematization of Agriculture
125
Chapter 6: Breakfast Cereal in the Twentieth Century and Conclusions
169
Bibliography
197
IV
List of Figures
page
Figure 1
The Battle Creek Sanitarium campus, Michigan, 1895
Figure 2
Battle Creek city limits, 2009
Figure 3
Model of the original Western Health Reform Institute,
5
29
used from 1866-1878
36
Figure 4
James Jackson's water cure in Dansville, New York
37
Figure 5
Water Cure Sanitarium near Paris, France, ca. 1880
39
Figure 6
Battle Creek Sanitarium, 1878
40
Figure 7
First Floor Plan, Battle Creek Sanitarium, 1878
43
Figure 8
Kitchen, Battle Creek Sanitarium, ca. 1895
44
Figure 9
Grounds of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, ca. 1888
46
Figure 10
Guest Room, Battle Creek Sanitarium, 1888
47
Figure 11
Light Bed, Battle Creek Sanitarium, 2009
50
Figure 12
Colonic Machine, Battle Creek Sanitarium, 2009
51
Figure 13
Bowel-Kneading Apparatus, Battle Creek Sanitarium, 1915
52
Figure 14
Gymnastics at the Sanitarium, ca. 1905
54
Figure 15
Granose Advertisement, 1896
60
Figure 16
Granose Rollers, 1894
61
Figure 17
Flaked Cereal Patent, 14 April 1896
63
Figure 18
Looking Southwest from Battle Creek Sanitarium, ca. 1897
68
Figure 19
The "Porte-Air" Vent, ca. 1900
70
Figure 20
Battle Creek Sanitarium Campus, ca. 1895
71
Figure 21
John Kellogg, "The Digestive System," 1913
73
Figure 22
Cuticura Company, "Humor Germs" Advertisement, 1899
77
Figure 23
John Kellogg, Antiseptic Drainage Tube, 1892
78
Figure 24
The Sanitarium's Experiment Kitchen, ca. 1895
84
Figure 25
John Kellogg, "Balanced Bill of Fair," 1899
92
Figure 26
"Stomach Tube," 1896
93
Figure 27
Battle Creek Sanitarium Main Laboratory, ca. 1900
94
Figure 28
Bird's eye view of Battle Creek, 1895
97
Figure 29
Cross-section of the Subterranean Farmstead, 1925
103
Figure 30
A. Arnold Clark, "Typhoid Fever and Sewers," 1890
115
Figure 31
Map of Goguac Lake, 1894
118
Figure 32
View of Goguac Lake from the Sanitarium's Villa, ca. 1900
119
Figure 33
Pumping Station at Goguac Lake, n.d.
121
Figure 34
Stainless Steel Whirlpool, Battle Creek Sanitarium, ca. 1900
122
Figure 35
Back of the Colonic Machine, Battle Creek Sanitarium ,2009
123
Figure 36
Hinterlands southeast of Battle Creek, ca. 1885
128
Figure 37
"Hyperpepsia" Stomach Analysis Results, 1894
Figure 38
W.O. Atwater, "Composition of American Food Products," 1896
146
Figure 39
John Kellogg, "Daily Food Unit Requirements," 1908
147
Figure 40
The Nichols and Shepard Vibrator Threshing Machine, ca. 1890
156
133
Figure 41
Vibrating Plates, The Nichols and Shepard Vibrator Threshing
Machine, ca. 1890
157
Figure 42
Hammond Seedsman Shipping Department, 1900
162
Figure 43
Inventory of Annual Food Consumption,
Battle Creek Sanitarium, 1908
163
Figure 44
Exterior and Interior, Battle Creek Sanitarium Greenhouse, 1908
164
Figure 45
Battle Creek Sanitarium Farm, 1908
165
Figure 46
Hammond Seedsman Mail Order Department, 1900
166
Figure 47
Hammond Seed Manufacturing Plant, 1900
167
Figure 48
Cartoon of Competitors, ca. 1905
172
Figure 49
Battle Creek Sanitarium Razed by Fire, 1902
173
Figure 50
Advertisement from the Kellogg Toasted Cornflake Company,
1915
178
Figure 51
Life Magazine, "Sweetheart of the Corn," 1958
179
Figure 52
Briefcase of Kellogg's Traveling Salesman, ca. 1915
180
Figure 53
"Krumbles" Processing Machine, ca. 1910
184
Figure 54
Movement of meals through digestive system, 1928
189
Vll
Acknowledgements
As Jack Stillinger has pointed out, the very notion of a single author is largely a
myth. Producing a work such as this is in reality the cumulative insights, observations,
edits, and knowledge of a vast number of people, with the listed author offering
clarification, the painstaking task of writing, and organization. I have had the opportunity
to cite many of those people in the pages of this document, giving them at least some
credit. But as is customary the work of many others comes to light solely through this
crucial piece of front matter. Funding for this project included fellowships from the
Association of American Geographer's Cultural Geography Specialty Group, the Darling
Biomedical Library and Special Collections at UCLA, the Bentley Historical Library at
the University of Michigan, and the Chancellor's Prize at UCLA. Thank you for reading
and acknowledging the gifts - quite literally - of the following people, without whom this
project would never have been so much as started. I have listed them in alphabetical order
by last name, as in one way or another they are all co-authors in my view. However, they
all share the luxury of being co-authors who are responsible for none of the errors or
misrepresentations in the following text, which all fall on me.
John Agnew. His availability, support, enthusiasm, and willingness to freely offer his
own insight makes John one of the best people one could have on his side in
moving through the process of writing a dissertation.
Abigail Cooke, whose willingness to offer substantive feedback on my last-minute editing
requests was amazing.
Michael Curry, my main advisor, whose availability to talk for an hour at a moment's
notice about anything from Mongolian nomadism to FAA flight routes, to the
history of manners, is truly inspiring.
Lori Curtis, Associate Chair and Archivist, the Loma Linda University Archives and
Special Collections.
Lisa Kim Davis, who was always somehow able to simultaneously offer sage guidance
while calming my nerves.
Melanie DuPuis, University of California-Santa Cruz. As the only other person in the
social sciences I am aware of who studies digestion, Melanie was able to
conceptualize and frame the significance of what I was trying to do before I knew
what I was trying to do.
Anita Ezzo, Food Science and Technology Librarian, Michigan State University, East
Lansing. Without her I would have had no clue how to navigate the astoundingly
voluminous holdings of MSU's agricultural history collections, nor how to access
some of those holdings through UCLA.
Cynthia Ghering, Head of the Archives and Historical Collections, Michigan State
University, East Lansing. Cynthia offered research help of which any researcher
would be envious.
Julie Guthman, University of California-Santa Cruz. Julie was kind enough to host me for
a quarter of study at UCSC through the University of California campus exchange
ix
program. Critically evaluating the connections between bodies, machines, and
landscapes would not have been possible without her aid.
Karen Jania, Head of Access and Reference Services, Bentley Historical Library,
University of Michigan.
Chris Limburg, my dear friend who has the special gift of being able to teach you who
you are and what you care about in the most unobtrusive way possible.
Janice Little, Assistant Archivist, the Loma Linda University Archives and Special
Collections.
George Livingston, History Librarian, Willard Library, Helen Warner Branch, Battle
Creek, Michigan.
Graduate student members of the UCLA Department of Geography's Cultural Geography
Workshop, a.k.a. "Surgery," who offered a consistent critical and nurturing peer
environment that is so crucial in writing a dissertation.
Members of the University of California's "Food and the Body" Multi-Campus Research
Group.
Andrew Michalowski, GIS Specialist and Head of the Records Division, Battle Creek
Department of Public Works. Andrew granted my rare and rather odd request to
comb through the archives of the city's Public Works documents.
Phil Morrow, Territory Manager for CENEX / Land O' Lakes Agronomy Services,
retired. Phil offered insightful advice from his years of experience as an
agronomist on how to frame the emergence of agricultural science in the United
States.
Jenny Price, a great friend and colleague who served as an unofficial academic advisor.
Jenny is an editor with the admirable ability to insert constructive criticism at the
most basic cruxes of arguments, the ones that are hardest to see as a writer.
Garth "Duff Stoltz, local historian and director of the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage
Center, Battle Creek, Michigan.
Yi-Fu Tuan, who has the ability - that one gains only through decades of scholarship - of
finding the golden nugget in any idea and turning it into something spectacular.
Yi-Fu taught me to see the elegance and deeper virtue in my decision to make
teaching, thinking, and writing a profession. His contributions in molding me as
a person and a scholar are irreplaceable.
Kathleen Weessies, Head of the Map Library, Michigan State University, East Lansing.
Norton Wise. It was in Norton's history of science seminar where I discovered that John
Kellogg cared about digestion, offering me an in-road to write and talk about the
materiality of food consumption. Since that discovery, Norton's calm, sage
encouragement has been a necessary pillar in the process of researching and
completing this dissertation. Thank you Norton for teaching me the history of
modern thought.
There is one person whose aid in finishing this project stands out from the list of people
above. He or she wishes to be known only as an honorary member of Tulane
University's Gargoyle Society. This person's contributions redefine the meaning
of friendship.
xi
VITA
October 12, 1978
Born, Rochester, Minnesota
2001
B.S., Geography
University of Wisconsin-Madison
2003
Italian language training
Centro Cultura Italiana
Bologna, Italy
2005
M.S., Geography
University of Wisconsin-Madison
2003-05
Teaching Assistant
Department of French & Italian
University of Wisconsin-Madison
2006-09
Chancellor's Prize
University of California-Los Angeles
2007
O'Malley Research Fellowship
Darling Biomedical Library and Special Collections
University of California-Los Angeles
2008-09
Lecturer
Department of Geography
University of California-Los Angeles
2009
Mark C. Stevens Researcher Travel Fellowship
Bentley Historical Library
University of Michigan
2009
Doctoral Research Grant
Cultural Geography Specialty Group
Association of American Geographers
2009-10
Teaching Fellow
Undergraduate Education Initiatives
University of California-Los Angeles
xn
PUBLICATIONS AND PRESENTATIONS
Bauch, Nicholas (March, 2004). Food, Place, and Identity in Northern Italy. Paper
presented at the meeting of the Association of American Geographers,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Bauch, Nicholas (April, 2005). Food and Place: Consuming Parma, Italy. Paper
presented at the meeting of the Association of American Geographers, Denver,
Colorado.
Bauch, Nicholas. 2006. Book Review of Appalachian Folkways. Cultural Geographies 13
(3):478.
Bauch, Nicholas (March, 2006). Topics in Community Supported Agriculture. Paper
presented at the meeting of the Association of American Geographers, Chicago,
Illinois.
Bauch, Nicholas (October, 2007). From Farm to Stomach: A natural history of digestion.
Paper presented at the meeting of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers,
Long Beach, California.
Bauch, Nicholas (April, 2008). Environmental History and Social Theory: The stomach
of John Harvey Kellogg. Paper presented at the meeting of the American
Society for Environmental History, Boise, Idaho.
Bauch, Nicholas (March, 2009). Healthy Intestines, Healthy Landscapes: The Kellogg
cereal enterprise. Paper presented at the meeting of the Association of American
Geographers, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Bauch, Nicholas (April, 2009). Land, Body, and Molecules in Late Nineteenth-Century
Science: The case of the Kellogg cereal enterprise. Paper presented at the
meeting of the Humanities Education and Research Association, Chicago,
Illinois.
Bauch, Nicholas (October, 2009). Proximity-as-Epistemology: Field work in Imperial
County, California. Paper presented at the meeting of the Association of Pacific
Coast Geographers, San Diego, California.
Bauch, Nicholas. 2009. Capturing the Circulation of Material: Teaching nature in the city.
Mammut: The journal of ecological aesthetics 1 (2):13-14.
xin
Bauch, Nicholas. 2009. Approaching Las Vegas: Life in the desert. Street Signs:
Goldsmiths Centre for Urban and Community Research Autumn:22-25.
Bauch, Nicholas (April, 2010). Teaching Undergraduate Research in Geography of Food
and Agriculture. Illustrated paper presented at the meeting of the Association of
American Geographers, Washington, D.C.
Bauch, Nicholas. 2010. The Academic Geography Video Genre: A methodological
examination. Geography Compass 4 (5):475-484.
Bauch, Nicholas (cartographer). 2010. "Number of Chinese Foreign Nationals Living in
Mexico, 1910." In Romero, Robert. The Chinese in Mexico, 1882-1940.
Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Sturm, Tristan, and Nicholas Bauch. 2010. Nationalism and Geography: An interview
with Rogers Brubaker. Geopolitics 15 (1):185-196.
xiv
ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION
A Geography of Digestion:
Biotechnology and the Kellogg Cereal Enterprise,
1890-1900
by
Nicholas Burket Bauch
Doctor of Philosophy in Geography
University of California, Los Angeles, 2010
Professor Michael Curry, Chair
This dissertation addresses two conceptual problems in geographical study. The
first and most overarching is the problem of describing the constitution of nature-society
relations. The second is showing that to understand those relations it is helpful to think of
them as existing spatially. Addressing these conceptual problems is achieved by
analyzing the process of digestion as rendered at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle
Creek, Michigan during the years 1890-1900. The sanitarium was a health resort directed
by John Harvey Kellogg, older brother of the breakfast cereal magnate William Keith
Kellogg. Here diagnosis and cure centered on the workings of the digestive system and
eating the "proper" diet. To fully understand digestion in this period, however, it is best
seen as a process that was technological as much as it was biological. The material
connections between the bodies of sanitarium guests with various machines and
infrastructures, therefore, are described throughout the chapters, offering a solution to how
geographers might conceive of nature-society relations. To address the second theoretical
geographical problem, the analysis (denotatively the "separation of a whole into its parts")
of the digestive system means that the "parts" of the digestive system are categorized
spatially. Accordingly, the story of digestion in Battle Creek begins at the sanitarium,
then moves through the city itself, ending in the rural upper Midwest where the health
food was produced. Machines including grain rollers, air vents, water works and
sewerage systems, colonic machines, steam-powered threshers, and seed warehouses are
mapped as necessary components of digestion in this time and place. This contributes to a
methodology for writing an historical geography that is founded in spatial description as
much if not more so than causal narrative. In this, it is an attempt to revitalize and renew
the longstanding tradition of regional geography using current theories of "assemblages"
and relational space.
xvi
Preface
"A geography of digestion" is a teasing title for a dissertation. How could a
geographer approach the topic of digestion, something that we think of as taking place
inside our bodies, out of view, and automatic? How does something that has been
studied almost exclusively by physicians come into the purview of a geographer? My
interest in digestion stems from a long-standing interest in agriculture and food
consumption. I recognized that a large part of the discussions about both food production
and consumption revolve around the theme of human health and nutrition. For example,
critiques levied against agricultural production systems frequently point out the perilous
tasks that farm workers endure, such as heightened exposure to dangerous chemical
inputs. Also, in a number of now-popular instances, concerns have been raised about the
nutritional deficiencies encountered with an overabundance of processed foods. Thirdly,
the pangs of a state-sponsored, global agricultural economy have in many instances
caused environmental degradation and loss of plant biodiversity, the continuation of
which is ultimately a concern because of how it impacts the health of populations around
the world.
In all of these examples, linking food and agriculture to the issue of health is
fascinating because in eating there is a built-in material connection between people and
their environment. Looking closely at food and health requires us to open investigations
in cultural preferences of food consumption, analyze the built landscape, and explore the
political ecologies of agricultural production. While geographers have critically engaged
1
with all of these issues, there is a lack of research around what actually happens once
food is eaten - this moment of contact between people and the environment. With this
orientation in place, I ask not what does digestion look like - as a strictly anatomical
process - but instead what does the geography of digestion look like - as a spatial
process that links bodies to the outside environment? I argue that by looking at the
history of the Kellogg's cereal business, we can get a glimpse of how the process of
digestion is intimately linked with a set of mappable mechanical and infrastructural
technologies, and how by knowing this we can learn about both a significant chapter in
the birth of American health food culture, and witness how an earlier form of
biotechnology operated. Each of these issues are stronger than ever now in 2010, and
each are older than we think.
What happens between food production and consumption? We often assume the
former as the starting point, but the relationship is more cyclical than linear. This means
we can also ask: what happens between consumption and production? The story in this
dissertation makes this circle by peering inside the "black box" of consumption, the
digestive system. To understand what happens between consumption and production we
have to leave the confines of the body and extend the query into other places. This study,
then, is also one of places - descriptions of them and connections between them.
Describing a set of places and the connections between them leaves us with a geography
of digestion. Digestion cannot be thought of as a process that takes place just inside our
bodies. If we are to understand human health, we need to understand how "outside"
machines and technologies operate as extensions of our bodies. How are our bodies
2
extended into the world? Our conceptions of human health, I argue, can be more fully
understood when they are conceived of as geographical: health can be read from places
around us as much as it can be diagnosed from peering into places within.
I begin this analysis inside the body, the place where we become the world around
us. The analysis then moves through three other scales - building, city, and field- to
examine how the invisible process that helps keep us alive is actually not so invisible.
Instead of relegating digestion to the apparati of the mouth, stomach, intestines, liver, and
colon, I demonstrate that digestion is a process that begins before food meets saliva, and
that its apparent invisibility uncloaks itself to the attentive eye at each of these three
"outside" scales.
I rely on the geographical concept of landscape to frame this vision. To study the
landscape of an object means to 1) study how that object's elements are spatially
distributed, 2) picture the visual scene those elements create, and 3) interpret the holistic
combination of those elements in the scene. This suggests, then, that first I must
demarcate objects, practices, people, and institutions in the world that affect digestion.
This includes, for example, ventilation technology, sewer pipes, or agricultural
machinery. Then I must picture what visual form these elements take at each of the three
scales of building, city, and field. Categorizing and framing the visual fields in this way
excludes many other ways of seeing the places encountered in these chapters, but
introduces a new way of seeing. What starts as the deconstruction of a scene into its
constituent elements is finally rebuilt into a new landscape, one of digestion. When the
three "outside" landscapes are combined with the "inside" landscape of the digestive
3
system, we find ourselves with a better understanding of the geography of digestion, and
a dissolution of the boundary between inside and outside. Far from being monadic,
bounded entities, our bodies are networked with the world we inhabit: we are
geographical beings.
4
Chapter One: Introduction and Theoretical Considerations
The Battle Creek Sanitarium was a place in southern Michigan - in the town of
Battle Creek - that between 1876-1927 operated as a health resort and surgical hospital
(figure 1).
'••
.-•*-. * *
if s! :
••v
-•*
••'.•.•>.•.
»»:,.,j
/«»? „->,
Figure 1. The Battle Creek Sanitarium campus, 1895. (Image reproduced from About Battle Creek. 1895.
Headlight: A periodical devoted to the interests of railroads and railroad centers, May, Vol. 2, No. 5, pp.
24-25. Courtesy of the Willard Library, Battle Creek, Mich.)
Its director John Harvey Kellogg, older brother of the cereal magnate William Keith
Kellogg, fashioned a type of place where guests would come and "learn to stay well" at
what he nicknamed the university of health.1 As a mixture of spa, hotel, restaurant,
Richard W. Schwarz. 1965. John Harvey Kellogg: American health reformer. Dissertation, History,
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; p. 176.
5
university, and hospital, the sanitarium was frequented mostly by the wealthy, who
traveled from around the northern United States and beyond to visit "the san," though
throughout its existence an almshouse for the poor was also maintained on the campus.
John Kellogg was part of the Health Reform Movement, whose advocates shared a
foundation in Christianity and vegetarianism, and a method of living that tried to
maximize the efficiency of bodies on Earth by forbidding tobacco and alcohol
consumption, practicing hydrotherapy and electrical stimulation, exercising, wearing
properly fitting clothing, and importantly, eating the proper diet.
Modes of healing at the sanitarium included hydrotherapy, calisthenics, surgery,
and work with mechanized implements such as massagers and light baths. But above all
health at the sanitarium revolved around strict attention to diet and the process of
digestion. This dissertation demonstrates how the "proper" functioning of guests"
digestive systems depended on machines and infrastructure in the sanitarium (chapters 2
and 3), the city of Battle Creek (chapter 4), and the agricultural hinterlands of the region
(chapter 5).
Social theorist Bruno Latour has pointed out that the "social" is a shorthand for a
set of processes that we can never talk about all at once because the word signifies too
much. Critically evaluating the concept of society forces us to uncover a range of
particular stories, or as he puts it, we need to return to the "original" meaning of social,
"making it able to trace connections again."2 Analogously, there is usually common
" Bruno Latour. 2005. Reassembling the Social: An introduction to actor-network-theory. New York:
Oxford University Press; p. 1.
6
agreement as to what the digestive system is, yet looking inside the black box of the
digestive system uncovers an entire mapping of machines that are not normally thought
of when we say "digestive system." I offer an interpretation of what is actually going on
inside the "black box" of digestion.
John Kellogg was known as an accomplished gastroenterological surgeon and
was said to have performed hundreds of abdominal surgeries without a death. The
number of those surgeries that we would now consider necessary may be questionable,
yet for the late nineteenth century this remains a rare feat. Care for the digestive organs
was immensely important for Kellogg's philosophy of healing, and indeed, he defined the
human body as "a stomach with various organs appended."4 Since the stomach was
considered the center for the nutritive processes of the body, "any derangement of its
functions must therefore result in disorder of the entire organism.... The great majority of
diseases are primarily due to derangement of the digestive process."5 It is said about
John Kellogg that he "combined the finest talents of a physician, a hotelier, and a
promoter. He never forgot a face, an enema, or an alimentary canal."6
This digestive reductionism at the sanitarium exemplifies an aspect of food
consumption that has largely been overlooked by scholarship in food studies and
La Scienya Jackson, Stanley Dudrick, and Bauer Sumpio. 2004. John Harvey Kellogg: Surgeon, inventor,
nutritionist (1852-1943). Journal ofthe American College of Surgeons 199 (5):817-821.
John Kellogg. 1896. The Stomach: Its disorders and how to cure them. Battle Creek, MI: Modern
Medicine Publishing Co.; p. 3.
' Kellogg, 1896: p. 3.
' Scott Bruce and Bill Crawford. 1995. Cerealizing America: The unsweetened story of American breakfast
cereal. Boston: Faber and Faber; p. 15.
7
geography: digestion. Looking at digestion offers a new connotation to the term
consumption, emphasizing the ingestion of, rather than the acquisition of food. Nicolaas
Mink has recently (re) called for food and environmental historians to begin research "in
the belly."7 To accomplish this he suggests a focus on the places of and reasons for food
consumption. Here I add to this by examining how the form of the digestive system is
co-constituted with extra corporeal objects, questioning how we perceive the boundaries
of bodies. This spatialized, biotechnological rendering of digestion is one way to
demonstrate that the boundary between body and environment is not so strict.
In 1906 John Kellogg's brother, William Kellogg, successfully wrested away the
corporate arm of the health food company that was associated with the Battle Creek
Sanitarium and began the mass marketing and sale of pre-packaged breakfast cereal,
revolutionizing the morning meal for people around the country.8 Flaked cereal did not
emerge as a planned marketing gimmick, though. Rather it was the result of ceaseless
efforts throughout the 1890s to develop a variety of foods that would serve
pharmacological purposes for patients at the sanitarium, cures for ailments as diverse as
headaches, depression, and epilepsy. It is in these efforts during the years prior to the
explosion of Kellogg's most famous product, Corn Flakes, with which I am most
concerned. To understand the significance of these machines, however, we first need to
understand Kellogg's version of the "modern stomach." Chapter 2, then, is a detailed
description of a lifestyle created by John Kellogg that went by different names, including
7
Nicolaas Mink. 2009. It Begins in the Belly. Environmental History 14 (2):312-322.
x
Gerald Carson. 1957. Cornflake Crusade. New York: Rinehart & Co.
8
hygienic living, biologic living, and right living. I choose to call the whole of his
instructions for living the "hygienic philosophy," and in its detailed description I outline
the intellectual, professional, and architectural roots of the program.
Theoretically this project contributes to literature in "nature-society" geography, a
subfield devoted to understanding how the material world is perceived and subsequently
engaged with in different times and places. I build from the work of Latour and other
"object-oriented" philosophers that see the objects of the world not as discrete entities,
but as necessarily constituted by a collection, or network, of other objects and political
practices.9 In practice geographers have applied this to the analysis of everything from
water to wilderness parks, to animals, and to fire.1 Conceptually geographers have used
this to formulate notions of hybridity.11 I contribute to this discussion by adding a
corporeal, biological component. I use this type of hybrid analysis to investigate the
object of the human digestive system in a particular time and place, in order to lay out
how it is more accurately described as a set of machines, or early biotechnologies, rather
than a single organ inside of bodies. Therefore, food processing machinery, harvesting
combines, building air vents, seed vendors, and sewer pipes, for example, all contributed
to making possible the type of digestion that was considered "healthy" at the Kellogg
Latour, 2005; Graham Harman. 2005. Guerrilla Metaphysics: Phenomenology and the carpentry of
things. Chicago: Open Court.
Erik Swyngedouw. 1999. Modernity and Hybridity: Nature, Regeneracionismo, and the production of the
Spanish waterscape, 1890-1930. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 89 (3):443-465.;
William Cronon. 1996. The Trouble With Wilderness; or, getting back to the wrong nature. In Uncommon
Ground: rethinking the human place in nature, edited by W. Cronon. New York: W.W. Norton.; Jennifer
Wolch. 2002. Anima Urbis. Progress in Human Geography 26 (6):721-742.; Stephen J. Pyne. 1982. Fire in
America: A cultural history ofwildland and rural fire. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Sarah Whatmore. 2002. Hybrid Geographies. London: Sage.
9
sanitarium in the 1890s. Without these technological implements the digestive system
could not have done what it did in that time and place.
Recent work in geography has interrogated the concept of biotechnologies, using
critical spatial analyses to show the broader ramifications of development in the life
sciences. In a recent "Geographies of Biotechnology" theme issue, researchers were
concerned with "the question of how we are incorporated into a world alongside
biotechnological outcomes even as our own bodies are transformed by, treated with, and
consume biotechnological products."12 Understanding how the very nature of our bodies
is changing alongside a variety of technological changes is the critical question of the
theme issue. To realize this, bodies are conceived "not just in terms of the human body,
but also in terms of other vital nonhuman bodies.... The conceptualization of the body in
this work is one that has the capacity to be affected, to be part of a network of
1^
associations and/or a network of material connections."
Writing about material bodies
in a way that includes the far-reaching sources of biotechnologies, like the genetic
manipulation of seeds or the organ transplant industry offers a more accurate way, I
believe, to understand where exactly we exist. Research in biotechnologies of geography
has not yet, however, systematically applied this lens to the past. Here I am asking how a
mapping of digestive systems worked in the past?
'" Beth Greenhough and Emma Roe. 2006. Guest Editorial: Towards a geography of bodily
biotechnologies. Environment and Planning A 38:417.
11
Greenhough and Roe, 2006: p. 418.
10
Body Boundaries
The question "where is the body" is really a question of where we draw the line
between our bodies and the environment around us. If we consider that environmental
toxins affect cancer rates, or that food quality affects diabetes rates, for example, then it
becomes clear that we cannot simply think of bodies as ending at the skin. Instead, if we
take these connections seriously, viewing a landscape as that which is us, or will become
us, then we need to develop a language to read the body from the landscape, to enable us
to decipher landscapes of health and landscapes of poison. When studying the layout of
the sanitarium building, or the organization of farms, I remain open to a range of
similarities between them and the digestive system. But I am also looking for the ways in
which these exterior landscapes work to establish both a particular supply of food - one
that fits the prescriptive dietary regime of the sanitarium - and the way the landscapes
work to dispose of human waste, sewers being a prime example.
Human geographers "have explored novel ways of accounting for the physicality
and copresence of the non-human - both animate 'nature' and inanimate 'things' - within
conventional human worlds."14 One of the spatial implications of investigating this
copresence of subjects and objects is inquiring about the fluidity, or porosity, of their
borders. If we are willing to question how subject-object relations are constituted, then
certainly part of this must also be to question - physically - where one ends and the other
begins. With regards to the body, there is perhaps no better example than Emily Martin's
14
Karen Bakker and Gavin Bridge. 2006. Material Worlds? Resource geographies and the 'matter of
nature'. Progress in Human Geography 30 (5):5-27.
11
work on the history of the immune system, and how it has been portrayed, to understand
the space that emerges when red blood cells, T-cells and B cells are put into the context
of objects that belong to a body or not.1 Borders, in her narrative, become indefinite in
the sense that all the cells, whether coded as good or bad, operate in the same way, none
materially belonging to the body more than the others. In another instance Martin uses
mucous to question the boundary of the body. She observes that
these slimy substances, of and not of the body, dramatically blur self-non-self
lines. With respect to HIV transmission, there is a hint of a shift in science from
the current focus on the body as citadel, vulnerable only when its defenses are
penetrated through a wound, sore, puncture, or thrust, to the body as blurrily
linked to others through its many surface secretions. This shift hints at a change
in the previously common perception that the body is an autonomous, bounded
entity that ends at the skin. 6
The question "where does the body end" is the overarching question of this
dissertation. If blood cells and secretions - things that seem so human - demonstrate the
profound indefiniteness of the body's border, it is not a large leap to wonder how nonhuman things, including machines, may also confound conceptions of a bordered body.
It is at this point that current work in environmental geography becomes so helpful.
Understanding the "constitutive force of things in social and political life ... has meant
placing non-humans in our stories from the start, as part of the collectivities within which
human life is constituted."17 In an earlier geographical statement about biotechnology,
15
Emily Martin. 1994. Flexible Bodies: Tracking immunity in American culture from the days of polio to
the age of AIDS. Boston: Beacon Press.
16
Emily Martin. 1998. Fluid Bodies, Managed Nature. In Remaking Reality: Nature at the millenium,
edited by B. Braun and N. Castree. New York: Routledge; p. 71.
17
Bruce Braun. 2008. Environmental Issues: Inventive life. Progress in Human Geography 32 (5):670.
12
Katz and Kirby say that "biotechnology offers a vehicle for understanding the
construction of universal nature, and offers too a particular challenge to realign nature
and the individual."18 For them the "construction of universal nature" is a world in which
objects are stripped of their classificatory labels and become something neither from
biology nor technology - they become ontologically flattened. Additionally in this
statement we see that objects become something neither from natural (outside) nor
individual (inside) spaces - they become spatially extended. These two binaries captured
by Katz and Kirby - what I call biology/technology and body/environment - define the
two major efforts in nature-society, or, environmental geography: hybrid objects and
relational space.
Theoretically I am doing two things, each of which is a practice in synthesis.
First, I am relating notions of hybridity (as in nature-society hybrid objects) with ideas of
relational space (as in network theories such as actor-network theory). And second, I am
trying to put the space that results from examining the production of hybrid objects into a
regional geography framework. In a way this is a methodological flip because instead of
starting with an object, then following its connections, it takes the problem back to the
roots of geography, which in regional geography started with a set of associations, and
thought of the region as the object. Now I will outline these phenomena one by one.
First I will explain what I mean by hybrid objects, what I mean by relational space, and
18
Cindi Katz and Andrew Kirby. 1991. In the Nature of Things: The environment and everyday life.
Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 16 (3): 264.
13
how those two concepts intersect. Then I will describe how regional geography
contributes to and elucidates this intersection of hybridity and relational space.
Hybrid Entities - biology I technology
Biology/technology is about objects, specifically the materials with which objects
are constituted. Redefining objects as ongoing processes that are always constituted by
both biological components and technological components is at the root of the first
discussion, hybrid objects. Here the digestive system is a hybrid entity, a melding of the
body's organs and the technologies (e.g. the rollers, vents, and threshers) without which
the intestines would not be possible in the configuration prescribed by Kellogg.
Seeing technological implements as part of the digestive system in the 1890s is
seeing them as a form of biotechnology. Geographers have used advances in
biotechnology (e.g. genetically modified seeds) as a lens through which to question how
we categorize all of the objects in our lives.19 Certainly if something as "natural" as a
seed can be more accurately described as a mixture of human intention, technology, and
institution, then so too can we question other objects that seemingly fall so neatly into the
categories of natural and artificial. This line of thinking has lead geographers to analyze
every object as neither natural nor artificial, replacing the importance of the categories
themselves with the ways in which objects are imagined and made. Indeed, as Anderson
and Braun point out, non-essentialist materialists such as Gilles Deleuze, Donna
19
Thorn van Dooren, 2008. Inventing Seed: The nature(s) of intellectual property in plants. Environment
and Planning D: Society and Space 26:676-697.
14
Haraway, and Bruno Latour each understand "all of 'being' to exist on the same
ontological plane."20
This flattening of categorical claims that we have on objects has led geographers
to question the spatial outcomes of such a vision.21 If objects (organic or not) do not exist
alone, but rather are the outcomes of their relationships with other objects, then it is
imperative to explore the space that is produced by such relations. Metaphors of
association within science and technology studies (STS) have pointed to the utility of the
idea of "networks" in describing what and where objects actually are."- Showing that the
digestive system is not only inside the bounds of the skin, but is also part of a
biotechnological network, this dissertation brings together the environmental historical
insight (that health is relational) with the STS insight (that objects are relational) with the
geographical insight (that these relations are spatial).
Relational Space - body/environment
Body/environment is about space, specifically the drawing or dissolving of the
territorial boundaries between body and environment. Asking how people interact with
the environment is one way of asking where the body ends and the "world out there"
"" Kay Anderson and Bruce Braun. 2008. Introduction. In Environment: Critical essays in human
geography, edited by K. Anderson and B. Braun. Burlington, VT: Ashgate; p. xiv.
21
Jonathan Murdoch. 1998. The Spaces of Actor-Network Theory. Geoforum 29 (4):357-374.; Nigel Thrift.
1999. Steps to an Ecology of Place. In Human Geography Today, edited by D. Massey, J. Allen and P.
Sarre. Maiden, MA: Blackwell.
22
Michel Callon. 1986. Some Elements of a Sociology of Translation: Domestication of the scallops and
the fishermen of St. Brieuc Bay. In Power, Action and Belief: A new sociology of knowledge?, edited by J.
Law. Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
15
begins. One way to answer this is by creating a "geography of heterogeneous
associations" in which the researcher traces how "actions are embedded in materials and
then extended through time and space."23 By doing so the notion of the hybrid entity
becomes also a geographical entity. When the heterogeneous associations are displayed,
the boundary between body and environment dissolves, or at least is redrawn. The
resulting cartography has been termed "relational space."24 Mapping the digestive
systems of sanitarium patients outside the epidermal borders of the body is a way by
which we can understand organs as extensible and spatial. The mapping, or space, is
relational because it defines a world in which the objects mapped are co-constitutional,
unable to exist alone. Whatmore benchmarks a return to materiality in cultural
geography, in which "the world shifts the register of materiality from the indifferent stuff
of a world "out there', articulated through notions of 'land', 'nature' or 'environment', to
the intimate fabric of corporeality that includes and redistributes the 'in here' of human
being."
In other words, the materiality of the "in here" of humans is representative, and
constitutive, of the world "out there."
The idea that bodies and their environments are co-constitutive has also been
explored by feminist scholars. Elizabeth Grosz uses the idea of a "sociocultural"
Jonathan Murdoch. 1997. Towards a geography of heterogeneous associations. Progress in Human
Geography 21 (3):321-337.
24
Jonathan Murdoch. 2006. Post-Structuralist Geography: A guide to relational space. Thousand Oaks,
Calif.: Sage.
""' Sarah Whatmore. 2006. Materialist Returns: Practising cultural geography in and for a more-than-human
world. Cultural Geographies 13:602.
16
environment to explain how our perceptions of sexed bodies are produced in urban
places. She says the body and its environment
have overtaken and transformed whatever reality each may have had into the
image of the other: the city is made and made over into the simulacrum of the
body, and the body, in its turn, is transformed, 'citified,' urbanized as a
distinctively metropolitan body.26
Grosz represents here a larger project stemming from Foucault, and from which the
argument of this section takes a cue.
Namely, the form of human bodies is contingent
upon context; the process by which bodies are made is different in different times and
places. The implication for Grosz and many others is that when the forms of bodies are
seen as historical processes, then the assumptions we make about gender and sexuality
can be denaturalized, thereby confronting moments of sexual oppression that actually
have no foundation.28
The birth of the hybrid entity in geography helped frame an answer to
geography's long-standing problem of the nature/society question. The birth of relational
space in geography offered a methodology for describing the new cartography that
emerged from seeing objects in the world as neither natural nor artificial. Studying a
single object as a hybrid entity - in this case the digestive system - and the spatial
connections it makes with the world solves two geographical puzzles at once: it is a way
to recognize the spatiality of our lives, and it is a way to demonstrate the inconsistencies
26
Elizabeth Grosz. 1998. Bodies-cities. In Places Through the Body, edited by H. J. Nast and S. Pile. New
York. Routledge; p. 43.
27
Michel Foucault. 1990. The History of Sexuality, Volume /• An Introduction. Translated by R. Hurley.
New York: Vintage Books.
" Judith Butler. 1993. Bodies That Matter: On the discursive limits of "sex". New York. Routledge.
17
of a metaphysics based in the separation of environment and body. Now I will move on
to the third point of this section, and that is to describe how regional geography
contributes to and elucidates this intersection of hybridity and relational space.
Regional Geography I
In compiling the pieces of this geography of digestion I find it useful to engage
one of geography's most basic frames of analysis: the region. Geography has long
searched for meaning by using the proximity of people, events, and objects as a way to
organize the cacophony of the world. Borrowing from the ancient Greek philosophy of
Herodotus, landscape geographer Carl Sauer wrote that "the objects which exist together
in the landscape exist in interrelation.... They constitute a reality as a whole that is not
expressed by a consideration of the constituent parts separately."29 This view, that the
parts of a landscape cannot exist except in interrelation, has been brought into question
by conceptualizations of space that highlight the primacy of global networks over place. '
Networked visions of space and "the end of scale"11 are two instances of geographical
theory attempting to describe what I would call a post-regional world. If we adopt an
ontology that sees objects as "socio-nature hybrids," then we must trace out their
associations - or follow their links - with the other people, places, and things that
CarlO Sauer and John Leighly. 1963 Land and Life A selection from the writings of Carl Ortwin
Sauer Berkeley University of California Press; p. 321
10
Ash Amin 2004 Regions Unbound. Towards a new politics ol place Geografrska Annaler 86 B (1) 3344
1
Sallie A Marston 2000 The social construction of scale Progress in Human Geography 24 (2) 219242
18
precede their existence. Geography has long had a methodology that deals with the
associativeness, or synthesis, of nouns and actions: regional geography. Regional
geography as a method comes pre made to examine disparate bits of the world and show
their connectedness. It is, in this sense, a very ecological vision.
In this formulation, for example, three buildings of a city block could have
nothing to do with one another, as all of their business connections and communications
might tap into a network separate from that of the building next door. While undoubtedly
true for a variety of frames of analysis, I would argue that to only use a networked vision
of space can be anti-ecological. In this example, is it not also true that the buildings are
all connected to the same infrastructure? Use water and energy from the same source?
To abstract this example: even when we view each object and activity of a region as
being connected to different "places, times, and agencies," as Latour put it, their
proximity bundles them into a unit that when displayed or described sheds light on the
world created by what Sauer called interrelation.
This approach has gone through a number of revivals. The "new" regional
geography that emerged in the late 1980s marks an "empirical turn towards works of
geohistorical synthesis," with an interest in a variety of scales "from the global down to
the microsociological, with locality studies being prominent."32 The geography of
digestion is a geohistorical synthesis of what I conceptualize as both disparate social and
" Andrew Sayer. 1989. The New' Regional Geography and Problems of Narrative. Environment and
Planning D: Society and Space 7:253.
19
environmental systems with far-reaching tentacles into many different places, and at the
same time as a set of objects and phenomena which are bundled by their proximity.
Relational models of space have gained primacy over models of a bounded,
regional space. The success of this rise has been due, in part, to debates in environmental
geography which have posited a range of "onto-stories" as a way to comprehend the
changing meanings of nature.33 In these debates, the issue is overcoming a perceived and
practiced separation of nature and society. A great coup in deconstructing this binary has
been to study the "nature-society" problem at the scale of the object. Following objects
and connecting them to the people, places, and technologies that make, use, consume,
bestow meaning on, and discard them has been widely theorized and attempted in studies
under the heading of actor-network theory.34 The results of such studies have been
varied, but the general conclusion is that when we conceive of any object as being neither
human nor non-human, culture nor nature, then all objects are flattened into an ontology
where everything must be given equal moral consideration.
Where does the ascent of the hybrid-object, or network ontology, leave the
insights of regional geography? I use the region as a starting point for analysis with the
assumption that it is the region itself which classifies the empirical elements as being
related. Proximity is given classificatory privilege over other categories of observation
Anderson and Braun, 2008: p. xiii.
14
Nigel Thrift. 2000. Actor-network theory. In The Dictionary of Human Geography, edited by R. J.
Johnston, D. Gregory, G. Pratt and M. Watts. Maiden, MA: BlackwelL; Noel Castree and Tom MacMillan.
2001. Dissolving Dualisms: Actor-networks and the Reimagination of Nature. In Social Nature: Theory,
Practice, and Politics, edited by N. Castree and B. Braun. Maiden, MA: BlackwelL; John Law and John
Hassard, eds. 1999. Actor network theory and after. Maiden, MA: BlackwelL
20
and analysis. This view is an attempt to be synthetic and consciously noncompartmental.
Regional Geography II
Describing this geography of digestion takes cues from the long-standing
geographical practice of describing regions. A refrain of critiques questioning the
efficacy of regional geography has been to question the logic of boundary-making; how
does one know where the region begins and ends? The borders of this southern Michigan
region of digestion are indeed fuzzy. To grapple with this perennial issue I look to the
concept of "affordances," borrowed from science and technology studies, which has
been used to talk about the role of material technologies in shaping society.35 Objects
"afford" people the opportunity to act. This is in counterdistinction to the belief that the
formation of technology is a one-way conduit from people to things. The argument goes
that we actually don't always know what we're getting into when we make new
technological devices. The technologies themselves afford certain behaviors. In using a
new piece of technology, the question, "what can we do?" is prior to the question of
"what shall we do?" There are only so many actions one can perform with a telephone,
for example, and what those actions are help define the ways we behave in our quotidian
lives.
All this is to say that likewise, in the geography of digestion in southern
Michigan, I study that which was afforded to sanitarium intestines by proximity, or
Ian Hutchby. 2001. Technologies, Texts and Affordances. Sociology 35 (2):441-456.
21
convenience. As a researcher I do not cast my net with a pre-ordained causal narrative as
much as I cast it to see what is there. My categories of analysis were not
"manufacturing" or "city planning" or "chemistry," topics with established, canonical
methods of inquiry, but were instead organized by a spatial unit. Territory, then, is the
restrictor in my questioning. Territory affords me the opportunity to create a story that
others may have overlooked. Foucault has a discussion in The Order of Things about
what he calls convenientia, or convenience, a term used to denote the adjacency of
places. He offers this term in response to what he observed about the construction of
knowledge in human history that has relied on analogy, or "similitude," to explain the
things being compared. When things are sufficiently close in space, when their edges
touch, when their fringes intermingle, when the extremity of one denotes beginning of the
other, there is a spatial convenience. "[F]or in this natural container, the world,
adjacency is not an exterior relation between things, but the sign of a relationship,
obscure though it may be." 6 In short the point that Foucault makes is that there is a
knowledge to be gained through studying how the objects in any given moment of our
lives fit together, the same argument that object-oriented philosopher Graham Harman
makes, as do theorists of place in geography.37
The practice of regional geography has long dealt with the associativeness, or
synthesis, of subject and object. Stemming from Kant's defense of idiography - literally
one's private mark or signature - regional geography developed in the German tradition
%
Michel Foucault. 1973. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. New York:
Vintage Books; p. 18.
17
Tim Cresswell. 2004. Place: A short introduction. Maiden, MA: BlackwelL
22
and was then translated in the early twentieth century by Hartshorne. The argument of
idiography was that comparisons or generalizations between regions were not possible
TO
because each region was a unique assemblage of objects m space.
The methodology
that I enact here, therefore, examines what appear to be unrelated, disparate objects, and
shows their connectedness through their proximity. The objects appear to be unrelated
because they are normally categorized in already-existing sub-disciplines such as
agriculture or medicine. The very possibility of demonstrating exactly how farm
machinery and digestion are part of the same assemblage requires this spatial, ecological,
regional vision of proximity.
I am concerned ultimately here with the world of things. Each object in the world
has a network of associations that can be expressed with cartography and narrative. A
place is the physical gathering of a number of objects. The proximity of these objects, or
the place, tends to obscure the cartographic and historical aspects of the individual
objects because once in place their cartographies and narratives are supplanted by, or are
brought into, a new set of associations. This new set of associations is with each other;
they become subjected to a new set of myths made by the people in that place. The
associations in space, and the historical processes that made the objects, become hidden
in favor of a way of understanding them that makes sense to the people living there. But
the cartographies and narratives about objects do not disappear; they await rediscovery.
Tim Burt. 2005. General/Particular. In Questioning Geography: Fundamental debates, edited by N.
Castree, A. Rogers and D. Sherman. Maiden, MA: BlackwelL
23
Subject I Object Philosophy
The widespread acceptance of germ theory by the 1890s meant that explanations
of disease etiology were changing from environmental to bacteriological. While it would
appear that body-environment relationships were moving out of the spotlight, I make the
case that bodies were still connected with the outside environment - still extensible though increasingly with machines instead of with natural elements. One of the most
interesting things about the geography of digestion is that just as the role of natural
elements such wind, humidity, and temperature was waning as an explanatory model for
health, the extensibility of bodies to machines and infrastructures was waxing.39 This
change in how exactly bodies were spatially extended reflects a period of modernization
that saw the widespread cultural acceptance of science and technology into seemingly
every nook and cranny of society, including the digestive system.
In addition to its contributions to geographies of biotechnology, this project
expands the possibilities for the sub-field of historical health geography. Gavin Andrews
and Robin Kearns outline six areas of research that have fallen under the heading of
historical health geography.40 They are the spatial diffusion of infectious disease,
historical geography of healthcare, historical landscapes of health, histories of colonial
medicine, cartographies of disease, and histories of theoretical progress in health
geography. While this dissertation describes historical landscapes of health in a general
Carolyn de la Pefia. 1999. Recharging at the Fordyce: Confronting the machine and nature in the modern
bath. Technology and Culture 40 (4):746-769.
' Gavin Andrews and Robin A. Kearns. 2005. Everyday Health Histories and the Making of Place: The
case of an English coastal town. Social Science & Medicine 60:2697-2713.
24
sense, it also augments the list by adding a methodology for understanding the
assemblages of bodies, environments, and machines in regions of the past, drawing on the
geographies of biotechnology literature described above.
In Andrews and Kearns' historical health geography of Teignmouth, they layer
multiple stories, each with different periodizations and lengths, to show the complicated
ways that different pasts intersect to "contribute to the nature of the built environment
and certain elements of cultural life and identity."41 Using the notion that a major focus
of research in historical health geography has been on well-known places, I contribute to
that focus by studying the Battle Creek Sanitarium and its role in creating, maintaining,
and distributing John Kellogg's hygienic philosophy. But I add to this story by showing
not how histories with differing periodizations influenced the making of the sanitarium,
but rather how histories with differing locations in the same period can be woven all
together. To do so rests on the notion of simultaneity. What happens here at my site of
departure - the digestive system - has everything to do with what happens there too - the
building (chapter 2), the city (chapter 4), and the agricultural fields (chapter 5). It is an
inherently spatial vision of bodies in history, another way to frame historical geographies
of health.
This represents a move away from a focus on disease diffusion, and instead asks
about the composition of bodies, in much the same way that environmental geographers
have queried about the composition of "natural" objects and places such as water delivery
systems or wilderness parks. Most of the work in environmental geography has used the
41
Andrews and Kearns, 2005: p. 2710.
25
concept of the nature-society hybrid to make claims about the political-ecological state of
affairs of a place. Using political ecology - and political economy - as an overriding
justification for unraveling the composition of the material world,42 however, misses a
different lesson that emerges from these types of queries into hybridity, and that is the
philosophical issue of subject-object relations.
Pressing the question of where nature ends and society begins engages with a long
intellectual history that has systematically created and separated these two categories.43
Re-imagining the world without these categories requires us to first be able to describe
the line between them. Describing this line is part of the ethical question "how should we
interact with the environment that surround us?' Answering this question forces us to
describe - in a variety of ways, hybridity being one of them - what I sometimes think of
as a "magical line" between a purely natural place and a purely artificial place. Knowing
where that magical line should be depends on what values we import to any particular
place. The rights or limits that are available to us as we decide how to alter the surface of
the planet are determined by the elemental, material, physicality of earth, and by the ways
in which we imagine it.
42
Noel Castree. 2003. Environmental Issues: Relational ontologies and hybrid politics. Progress in Human
Geography 27 (2):203-21L; Paul Robbins and Julie Sharp. 2003. The Lawn-Chemical Economy and Its
Discontents. Antipode 35 (5):955-979.; Erik Swyngedouw. 1996. The City as a Hybrid: On nature, society
and cyborg urbanization. Capitalism Nature Socialism 7 (2):65-80.
41
Two good sources for how this separation happened in Western thought are Merchant, Carolyn. 1980.
The Death of Nature: Women, ecology, and the scientific revolution: A feminist reappraisal of the scientific
revolution. San Francisco: Harper & Row.; and Glacken, Clarence J. 1967. Traces on the Rhodian Shore:
Nature and culture in Western thought from ancient times to the end of the eighteenth century. Berkeley:
University of California Press.
26
Philosopher Graham Harman describes objects as existing in two realities at once.
He sets up his object-oriented philosophy by establishing first that objects exist alone,
apart from all relations. He calls this reality the "core" of the object. But at the same
time, objects affect one another causally, and somehow nurture or damage each other in
every instant. He calls this the "quality" of the object. The core exists alone, but the
qualities are where relations happen. In his words, "the basic dualism in the world lies
not between spirit and nature, or phenomenon and noumenon, but between things in their
intimate reality and things as confronted by other things."44 This implies that in the
"core" of objects there is a depth of meaning that cannot be sensed, experienced, or
understood. Then there are the interchanging ethereal pieces of an object that interact
with other objects, including humans. From a geographical perspective, it seems that
Harman is trying to deal with the bare materiality of objects as well as how they are
impacted by society. By distinguishing between the core and the quality of objects, he
offers a way to think about objects themselves as capable of carrying multiple meanings
at once, both physical and social realities, without privileging one, or reducing one to the
other, a substantive step in describing the "magical line." Through Harman's work, then,
interrogating the ontology of objects becomes aligned with, or becomes a microcosm for
what are the most pressing questions for environmental geographers today: how do we
describe the constituency of nature-society interactions that happen in places, and how do
we choose to shape those places?
44
Harman, 2005: 74.
45
Robert D. Sack. 1997. Homo Geographicus: A framework for action, awareness, and moral concern.
Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
27
Landscape
If we are willing to assert that the physical form - even the genetic makeup - of
our bodies has an element of plasticity, and that this plasticity is intertwined with the
social and physical environments (the world) that surround us,46 then surely we must
wonder how the food that we ingest affects us and our bodies. Indeed, as research in
environmental history is now making abundantly clear, "the problems of toxins in the
environment are now inseparable from the issue of toxins in us."47 This inseparability of
environment and body presses our understanding of the analytical unit in geography,
landscape.
We know that landscapes are visible scenes that capture a moment of the ongoing
transformative process of the material world, representing the cultural realms of meaning
and lived experience in that moment.
Landscape as a geographical tool is tailor made
for exploring questions about the intersection of knowledge systems with the material
world exactly because it assumes these two categories are inseparable: there is no visible
scene in the world from which some human idea cannot be read. The contribution I make
to landscape studies, then, is methodological. Through the chapters of this dissertation I
ask what digestion looks like outside the body. My hypothesis is that there is an aesthetic
of healthy digestion, and therefore of healthy bodies, that has nothing to do with what we
commonly think of as "the body." This is most clearly seen in chapter 4, where the
' Anne Fausto-Sterhng. 2000. Sexing the Body Gender politics and the construction of sexuality. New
York. Basic Books.
47
Jody A Roberts and Nancy Langston. 2008. Toxic Bodies/Toxic Environments. An interdisciplinary
iorum Environmental History 13 (4) 630.
28
sanitary engineer's vision of the urban environment has a direct impact on the health of
the population, and in chapter 5, where the transformation of agricultural fields to
"factories" generates an aesthetic of scientific control, the safe, clean production
processes that reduce the deleterious effects of adulterated foods.
Figure 2. Battle Creek city limits. Photo by author, April 2009.
Denis Cosgrove. 1993. The Palladian Landscape: Geographical change and its cultural representations
in sixteenth-century Italy. London: Leicester University Press; p. 5.
29
Chapter 2: Kellogg's Hygienic Philosophy and the Battle Creek Sanitarium
"[TJhere was nothing particularly new in most of the health regimen which
Kellogg stressed. What both Kellogg and others did think was new, however, was
the atmosphere in which these health ideas were presented."1
John Kellogg's success as a health entrepreneur rested on his synthesis of
American millennialism, contemporary developments in medical and nutritional science,
spa/resort hydrotherapy techniques, and environmental etiology. Appointed as director of
the Battle Creek Sanitarium by Seventh-day Adventist prophetess and co-founder Ellen
G. White, Kellogg rapidly developed a new architectural form and associated
mechanisms that could support and sustain his emergent self-declared "hygienic
philosophy." Although part of the larger Health Reform Movement that praised sexual
and alimentary self-control and included Sylvester Graham, Horace Fletcher, James C.
Jackson, and many temperance groups, Kellogg's Battle Creek directorship was
predicated on his unique abilities to adapt Adventist eschatology to modern medical
science.
Believing that Jesus Christ would return on a specific date and destroy the world,
leaders of American millennial groups, including Seventh-day Adventists, instructed their
members to prepare their bodies and spirits for the impending rapture so they could
obtain salvation.2 Such eschatological drives often translated as an apathy towards
education because preparing oneself for the rapture was the penultimate driving force.
' Richard W Schwarz. 1965. John Harvey Kellogg. American health relormer Dissertation, History,
University ol Michigan, Ann Arbor; p. 180.
2
Malcolm Bull and Keith Lockhart. 2007. Seeking Sanctuary Seventh-day Adventism and the American
Dream Bloomington Indiana University Press.
31
Kellogg avoided this millennial tendency through the leadership of Ellen White, who
wanted to train aspirant physicians who could assist the Adventist population's corporeal
preparation for salvation, a tradition that remains strong today. An important part of this
corporeal preparation was a detailed account of diet, which White - as the powerful
visionary of the emergent Christian denomination - stressed. She preached about
a) the need for cleanliness both of the person and his environs, - 'unless we are
clean in person, and pure, we cannot be presented blameless to God. I saw that
the houses of the saints should be kept tidy and neat, free from dirt and filth and
all uncleanness;' - b) the value of coarse food, free from grease, - "eat less fine
food, eat coarse food, free from grease, ... get food that is plain, and that is
essential to our health'.4
This message belied an overarching insecurity present in Adventist theology with all
things mundane. Worldly pleasures such as caffeine, tobacco, meat, and medicine were
considered defiling of the body, unnecessary impurities that lowered one's chances of
ascending to heaven. White defined health in terms of maximizing one's agency for
spiritual change on earth, emphasizing her apocalyptic vision and the notion that "the
more perfect our health, the more perfect will be our labor."5 For White, labor was
completely circumscribed by the eschatological. Her promotion of coarse, plain, nonoleaginous food influenced Kellogg's nutritional science work:
A person whose stomach is in a diseased condition will do better to adhere as
closely as possible to the natural diet originally intended by the Creator for the
sustenance of human beings, as indicated by the command to Adam: T have given
Ronald Numbers. 1976. Prophetess of Health: A study of Ellen G. White. New York: Harper & Row.;
Dores E. Robinson. 1965. The Story of Our Health Message. 3rd ed. Nashville, TN: Southern Publishing
Association.
Roy E. Graham. 1985. Ellen G. White: Co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist church. New York: Peter
Lang; p. 83.
s
Graham, 1985: p. 83.
32
you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every
tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat'.6
Kellogg increasingly sought ways to introduce and maximize cereal grains in the diet, not
only for religious reasons of purity and obedience, but also because he privileged the role
of the stomach in the digestion of food:
Upon receiving the food, the stomach very soon begins to pour out the gastric
juice, which first makes its appearance in little drops, like beads of sweat upon the
face when the perspiration starts. As the quantity increases, the drops run
together, trickle down the sides of the stomach, and mingle with the food.7
Kellogg's emphasis on scientific observation and physiological analogy, the latter
sometimes Christological, was nurtured by White, who had encouraged Kellogg to seek
out both progressive hydrotherapy training and the new professional medical education
emerging in Michigan.
Recognizing the need for more medical practitioners who would promote the
beliefs of their budding religious sect, James and Ellen White decided that they "should
act as a father and mother" to John Kellogg and fund his education as a doctor.8 In 1872
they sent him, along with three other hopefuls, to Dr. Russell Trail's Hygieo-Therapeutic
College in Florence Heights, New Jersey. It was a six-month program with curing
techniques emphasizing the internal and external use of water, proper exercise, fresh air,
' John Kellogg. 1896. The Stomach: Its disorders and how to cure them. Battle Creek, MI: Modern
Medicine Publishing Co.; p. 242.
7
Kellogg, 1896: p. 47.
x
Schwarz, 1965: p. 22.
33
and a simple diet, completely neglecting chemistry and pharmacology.9 This early
training would become an important element of Kellogg's hygienic philosophy.
Institutions such as Trail's were common in the mid-nineteenth century, but by
the 1870s waned with the increasing standardization of medical training and education.
One of the earliest university programs emerged as the University of Michigan Medical
School in Ann Arbor, which began instruction in 1850, and where Kellogg enrolled in
1873. Encouraged by the Whites, he was drawn to the school because of its focus on
chemistry and surgery, but also because of its attention to preventative methods of
healing. In 1874, Kellogg moved to the Bellevue Hospital Medical College in New York
City and received his medical degree there two years later.
During Kellogg's years in medical school and through his 1876 appointment as
director of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, most medical practitioners were generalists; that
is to say, they would prescribe and administer drugs, as well as perform surgery and
midwifery depending on the patient's needs, not claiming specialty over any one body
part or set of parts.10 Though many common complaints were diagnosed under the broad
heading of dyspepsia, abdominal surgery was considered very dangerous and was rare.
General practitioners would often avoid surgery and prescribe elaborate drug regimens,
such as the following given to an 1854 patient suffering from a digestive disorder in
Burlington, New Jersey:
Day 1: Castor oil, ginger, opium
9
Schwarz, 1965: p. 23.
10
Charles E. Rosenberg. 1987. The Care of Strangers: The rise of America's hospital system. New York:
Basic Books; pp. 169-173. In the 1870s and 1880s this was rapidly changing, though, toward
specialization. Kellogg practiced as both a generalist and a specialist.
34
Day 2: potassium citrate with lemon syrup
Day 3: opium and ipecac
Day 4: opium and ipecac
Day 5: potassium citrate, lemon syrup, nitre
Day 6: potassium citrate, tincture of aconite
Day 7: ipecac and opium
Day 8: calomel, ipecac, opium
Day 9: castor oil, ginger, orange
Day 10: gentian compound, kino pills, opium
Day 11: lead acetate, opium, bicarbonate of soda11
The educated and cultured classes increasingly eschewed such seemingly arbitrary
regimens, whereas Kellogg's new hygienic philosophy administered at the Battle Creek
Sanitarium appealed to those who sought treatment ""in accordance with laws of health,
19
approved by the scientific world."
With the beginning of his tenure as director of the
sanitarium, Kellogg would offer his broad hygienic philosophy along with a developing
specialization in gastroenterology. Binding these perspectives together gave him the
language and the rhetorical tools to link "general" maladies from disparate locations
around the body with a specific cause located in the stomach. Because Kellogg adopted
both the old language of generalization and the new language of gastroenterological
specialization, the stomach became the site of diagnosis and treatment. And curing the
stomach needed the architecture of the sanitarium.
The Battle Creek Sanitarium was modeled after a spate of health retreats and hot
spring spas in the eastern United States and Europe that operated under the principles of
hygienic living as a way to cure ailments. Therapies centered on geothermally heated
1
Joseph B. Kirsner. 1990. The Development of American Gastroenterology. New York: Raven Press; p.
96.
" About Battle Creek. 1895. Headlight: A periodical devoted to the interests of railroads and railroad
centers, May; p. 22.
35
waters gurgling up from the earth promised the affluent a "natural" alternative medicine
set amidst dramatic landscapes and luxurious accommodations.
Increasingly, hot spring
spas and water cure resorts adopted technological implements and apparatuses to enhance
the bubbling waters' perceived therapeutic effects. Special rooms were designed to serve
the functions of specific therapies, aid the body's recuperation, and stimulate internal and
external body motions.
The Western Health Reform Institute (figure 3), as the Battle Creek Sanitarium
was known before 1876, had been founded by Seventh-day Adventist leaders Ellen and
James White, and implemented just such cures.
Figure 3. Model of the original Western Health Reform Institute, used from 1866-1878. (Photo by author,
May 2009 at the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Center, Battle Creek, Mich.)
1
Carolyn de la Pefia. 1999. Recharging at the Fordyce: Confronting the machine and nature in the modern
bath. Technology and Culture 40 (4):746-769.
36
In their move from New York to Michigan they brought with them a formula for creating
a place where health could be restored without drugs.14 Though they later claimed that
the practices of the Western Reform Health Institute were their own innovations, the
Whites were closely associated with leading practitioners of hydrotherapy in New York,
including James C. Jackson, Joel Shew, and Edward Johnson.15 In fact, Ellen White had
spent three weeks at Jackson's Dansville, New York sanitarium in 1864 (figure 4), two
years prior to opening the Western Health Reform Institute in Battle Creek.
Figure 4. James Jackson's water cure in Dansville, NY. (Image reproduced from Gerstner, 1996: p. 5)
14
Patsy Gerstner. 1996. The Temple of Health: A Pictorial History of The Battle Creek Sanitarium.
Caduceus 12 (2).
n
James Jackson. 1856. Letters to a Young Physician Just Entering Upon Practice. London: Sampson
Low.; Shew, Joel. 1847. The Water-Cure Manual: A Popular Work: Embracing descriptions of the various
modes of bathing, the hygienic and curative effects of air, exercise, clothing, occupation, diet, waterdrinking, together with descriptions of diseases, and the hydropathic means to be employed therein. New
York: Cady and Bubgess.; Edward Johnson. 1846. Results of Hydropathy: or, Constipation not a disease of
the bowels; indigestion not a disease of the stomach; with an exposition of the true nature and cause of
these ailments, explaining the reason why they are so certainly cured by the hydropathic treatment.
London: Simpkin, Marshall and Co.
16
Schwarz, 1965: p. 113.
37
Although it incorporated water cure programs, White's new retreat more closely
emulated residential architecture than contemporary hydrotherapy resorts. The structure
was the primary place of therapeutic activities for eleven years, when it was replaced by
an altogether new architectural variant.
Almost immediately upon completion of his medical degree at the Bellevue
Medical School in 1876, John Kellogg was appointed director of the Western Health
Reform Institute. He rapidly focused his energies on rethinking the institute's
architecture. In the face of a medical field that was beginning to systematize, regulate,
and look to the work of laboratory science to frame human health, Kellogg had inherited
an organization that was fading in the popular imagination as a place of potential value to
one's health. Recasting the institute as a "sanitarium," Kellogg retained the services of
Michigan architect W.K. Loughborough to develop plans for an entirely new structure.
Though without hesitation he radically changed the Battle Creek operation's lynchpin to
match the changing demands of his patient constituency for systemization and science,
the influence of hydrotherapy remained an integral element of his hygienic philosophy
throughout his tenure at the sanitarium.
While John Kellogg was granted administrative directorship of the operation in
October 1876, the design, construction, and presence of the new building marked the
landscape of Kellogg's new leadership. A play on both "sanitary" and "sanatorium," the
neologism "sanitarium" connoted a place where sick people went, but were not, as was
common for hospitals at the time, surrounded by filth, disease, and death. It was at the
formal opening of this building in April 1878 that John Kellogg declared that the
38
sanitarium was "a place where people learn to stay well."17 Clearly architecturally
derived from the Dansville water-cure as well as similar European resorts (figure 5), the
new Battle Creek Sanitarium was crafted as a four-story structure, was 150 feet in length,
and could house up to 300 guests at a time (figure 6).
Co.; p. 178.)
From the Sanitarium Binder Notes, at the Loma Linda University Department of Archives and Special
Collections.
39
Figure 6 Battle Creek Sanitarium, 1878. (Image reproduced from On the Sidelines as a Health Idea
Triumphs. 1938. Battle Creek Moon-Journal, November 21, Vol. 24, No 84 )
The center front tower extended fifteen feet above the roof line, creating an imposing
facade. The tower's second floor was a conservatory, providing guests with a peaceful
place to rest among rare and exotic flowers and shrubs. While the ideological
components of the hygienic philosophy were not necessarily new, the place where these
practices were carried out - the architecture of healing - was a new type of place. Spa,
clinic, university, hotel, and laboratory combined to make a campus of well-being, known
as the sanitarium, the focus of which was the digestive systems of the guests.
This new type of sanitarium clearly paralleled the development of modern
hospitals. Before the 1870s, hospitals and medical practice had little to do with one
another. Doctors would travel, arriving at a sick person's house, making visits
throughout the countryside and a network of towns. What were known as hospitals, by
40
contrast, were "refuges mainly for the homeless poor and insane."18 The logic of using a
single building as a place through which doctors would make their rounds took the doctor
out of the landscape and into collaboration with other doctors using the same building to
house and treat their patients. This meeting of doctors with hospitals was made possible
by an increasingly industrializing economy which brought large numbers of people into
city centers, and encouraged a belief in technical expertise and scientific research.
Hospitals went from places of social welfare to "a workplace for the production of
health," and people started to see them not as places of death, but places of cure.19
With this new structure, Battle Creek became a destination, a place at the cutting
edge of preventative medicine, and one far removed from the "ills" of urban living. It
was a refuge, a retreat where people went for a self-ameliorating vacation, a place where
visitors could stop thinking about business or work and devote concentrated time to body
and well being. The sanitarium occupied "a hill top ... commanding a view of beautiful
rolling country, green fields, and shady groves almost as far as the eye can reach."
Fears of urban malaise and escapism prompted American vacationers onto trains. The
sanitarium's promotional literature described a fantastic destination, replete with natural
1
Paul Starr. 1982. The Social Transformation ofAmerican Medicine: The rise of a sovereign profession
and the making of a vast industry. New York: Basic Books; p. 146.
19
Starr, 1982: p. 146.
20
A Health Resort. 1894. The Sunday Inter Ocean 23 (134).
41
vistas and country fresh air, expansive porches and picturesque fountains, as well as an
increasing array of treatment chambers and mechanical apparatuses.21
The Battle Creek Sanitarium allowed the building's spaces - lecture hall,
gymnasium, baths, treatment rooms, dining hall, private suites, research laboratory - to
be secured under one roof. Its design derived from historical models of self-sufficiency
and the microcosmic, particularly the monastic architectural tradition.22 Despite this
overall unification, the first floor plan clearly demonstrated the systematic separation of
the building's activities (figure 7), with public reception spaces encompassing the north
side, "digestive" practices such as stomach analysis, dining, and exercising on the south,
and with a sequestered east area devoted to water cure therapies.
21
Where to Spend the Summer. 1892. The Bacteriological World and Modern Medicine 1 (8):281-284.
From the Darling Biomedical Library Special Collections, UCLA.
John D. Thompson and Grace Goldin. 1975. The Hospital: A social and architectural history. New
Haven: Yale University Press.
42
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i
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i
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.
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Figure 7. Battle Creek Sanitarium first floor plan, 1878 building. North is to the left of the image.
Key: A. Parlor; B. Reception Room; C. Counting Room; D. Main Hall; E. Gymnasium; F. Dining Room;
G. Laboratory; H. Physician's Office; a. Library; b. Ladies' Washroom; c. Elevator; d. Cloakroom; e.
Washroom; f. Water Closet; g. Drying Room; h. Electric Room; i. Dressing Room; j . Packing Room; k.
General Bathroom; 1. Turkish, Russian, and electro-vapor bathrooms; m. Clothes Room.
(Image reproduced from Gerstner, 1996: p. 10.)
Unlike other contemporary retreats and water cure resorts which featured adjacent dining
and kitchen areas, the Battle Creek Sanitarium notably isolated its kitchen (figure 8),
instead partnering physical exercise, medical examination, and the eating process in
adjoining spaces.
43
Figure 8. Battle Creek Sanitarium Kitchen, ca. 1895. In this photo the kitchen is being used for a cooking
class. (Photo courtesy of the Loma Linda University Department of Archives and Special Collections.)
The sanitarium enabled and encouraged the consumption and digestion of food as
prescribed by John Kellogg, and this included the isolation of food preparation from the
primary spaces of activity. Increasingly flavorful foods were available at the sanitarium,
as will be discussed in the next chapter, but food's ability to impact the senses was
always tightly controlled. Food smells were mitigated, and restricted from the
sanitarium's inhabited spaces. Guests would hear lectures and read brochures regarding
the composition of foods, the activities and behaviors that would encourage digestion,
then be able to immediately practice what they had learned. The power of suggestion
was astronomical; the cynic was able to test the principles of food consumption and
digestion by eating at the dining room, going to an exercise routine, or using some of the
44
electric body improvement machines. The speeches and brochures, whether intended or
not by John Kellogg, served as advertisements for a whole system of digestion that was
not exportable. This ability was due to the proximity of all the components of digestion
housed at the sanitarium; it was a campus of digestion. Proximity accelerated digestion,
displacing guests from their normal realities and placing them in Kellogg's reality. The
sanitarium was his vision splayed out into architectural form.
At the building's dedication in April 1878, it was declared to be "the largest and
most perfectly constructed edifice of its kind in America, and the only one of note,
especially built for, and adapted to, the purpose of a hygienic hospital and home for the
sick."23 Kellogg rationalized the treatments that came out of Trail's hydrotherapy
tradition (diet, massage, electricity, hydrotherapy), founding the perception of the
sanitarium as a place of medical relevancy to patients and professionals alike. Kellogg
used the model of the modern hospital, including its architectural blueprint and its
ideology of science, but kept the older forms of natural cures as the base for
implementing his version of modern pharmacology.
With support from railway tourist publications such as Headlight, Kellogg tapped
into contemporary notions regarding health and recuperation. With an edifice
comparable to an elegant hotel (figure 9), large private rooms for patients, and guest stays
averaging four weeks duration, the comforts of Kellogg's sanitarium were commodious
and exclusive, and "belied an association with medical care."24
"' Washington Gardner. 1913. History of Calhoun County Michigan: A narrative of its historical progress,
its people, and its principal interests. Volume I. New York: The Lewis Pub Co.; p. 370.
24
Gerstner, 1996: p. 13.
45
Figure 9. Battle Creek Sanitarium viewed from the southeast, ca. 1888. Notice the semi-subterranean
greenhouse in the dirt path, behind the badminton court. By burying the structure greater temperature
equilibrium was achieved throughout the seasons. (Image courtesy of the Loma Linda University
Department of Archives and Special Collections.)
A typical guest room measured eleven by fifteen feet (figure 10), and the second floor
afforded suites of corner rooms, rather small apartments than true guest rooms.
46
Figure 10. Sanitarium guest room, showing the "plush furniture," 1888. (Image reproduced from
Gerstner, 1996: p. 12.)
As the purpose of the sanitarium confounded historic categories of "hospital,"
"hotel," or "resort," ambiguity surrounding the purpose of the sanitarium was common:
"Are all the patients as satisfied and happy as the employes [sic]? By no means....
Others, again, forget that they are not passing their time at a summer hotel, with a
Delmonico menu."25 The continued expansion and popularity of the sanitarium
throughout the 1880s and 1890s, and into the twentieth-century, suggests that its success
had to do with a place of healing, a destination that functioned like a temple or a retreat,
where one could leave behind the problems of life and act out one's own vision of
perfection and Utopia. By the time the sanitarium closed, more than 300,000 patients had
25
"A Health Resort," 1894.
47
visited, including prominent guests such as Upton Sinclair, Theodore Roosevelt, Gifford
Pinchot, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and Alfred DuPont.26
To distinguish it from other curative places available to "invalids," Battle Creek
Sanitarium advertisements underscored the scientific nature of Kellogg's therapies.
Competition amongst restorative resorts was tight. New retreat/spas were being
constructed in exotic southern and western locales, and Michigan's northern clime was
both virtue and vice. Yet by the 1880s Michigan was already known as an escape for
those who suffered from hay fever, and Kellogg would frequently take junkets to deliver
lectures to the stricken, while no doubt drumming up some business of his own." The
Battle Creek Sanitarium advertisers sought to distinguish the place from other curative
places, citing the nation's abundant mineral springs, "bogus" sanitaria, and quasi-medical
establishments. Advertisements suggested that these other places were none other than
quackery, and that those who attended them would enter "into bad company." The
company at Battle Creek, on the other hand, was presented as "a thoroughly scientific
institution which would represent rational medicine in its most advanced form."28
Although it lacked a hot spring, the evolution of the Battle Creek Sanitarium
paralleled the development of water cure resorts in that its programming increasingly
augmented the healing powers of nature with a battery of mechanical inventions. In the
"' James Whorton. 2000. Inner Hygiene: Constipation and the Pursuit of Health in Modern Society. New
York: Oxford University Press; p. 182.
Gregg Mitman. 2007. Breathing Space: How allergies shape our lives and landscapes. New Haven: Yale
University Press; p. 34.
28
"Where to Spend the Summer," 1892.
48
same way that hot spring resorts relied more and more on machines like spray hoses and
whirlpool jets to mediate water from the spring (and therefore guests' experience of the
healing waters) the sanitarium at Battle Creek relied on all sorts of mechanical
implements to stimulate, augment, and even replace the work of the body's systems. In
both cases it was not enough to let nature - whether from the hot springs water or the
process of digestion - act on its own. It had to be coaxed, sometimes gently and
sometimes with aggressive manipulation. Some of the machines used in the sanitarium
included the percussion machine and vibrating therapy bed for circulation, the sitz bath
for a myriad of diseases, the electric bed, the light bulb box, the colonic machine for
digestion, and the bowel-kneading machine. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries, Battle Creek, Michigan became the locus of innumerable therapy device
patents, ranging from new therapeutic illuminants to machines that could simulate
exercise and massage.
Hydrotherapy, one of the major components of Battle Creek's treatment
programming was based on Kellogg's early training at Trail's Hygieo-Therapeutic
College. At the middle of the nineteenth century allopathy, homeopathy, spirituality, and
hydropathy were at times all considered mainstream acceptable forms of healing.
The
practices undertaken at hydrotherapeutic resorts went beyond drinking water and bathing;
they also included exercise, massage, and sweating (induced by chemical or heat), all
prominent at the sanitarium as part of its regimen for healthy living. The Battle Creek
" Marshall S. Legan. 1971. Hydropathy in America: A nineteenth century panacea. Bulletin of the History
of Medicine 45 (3):267-280.
49
Sanitarium included sweat chambers that were made possible by the availability of
electric light bulbs (figure 11).
Figure 11. Light bed used at the sanitarium. (Photo by author, May 2009 at the Seventh-day Adventist
Heritage Center, Battle Creek, Mich.)
Sweating was important because it was a form of evacuation, along with purging,
bloodletting, and defecation. Kellogg emphasized the importance of expelling poisons
that threatened or "intoxicated" the body's otherwise natural, pure state, a tendency that
has a long history in the form of blood-letting. His hygienic philosophy drew on ancient
beliefs that cleansing the body's interior cavities was curative. Whether realized in
enemas or around mineral springs, water was the vehicle by which the body's digestive
squalor or rot could be cleansed.
50
Figure 12. The colonic machine. These devices were widely used at the sanitarium to treat toxicity and
constipation. (Photo by author, May 2009 at the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Center, Battle Creek,
Mich.)
Similarly, Kellogg's therapies employed colonic machines (figure 12) to treat
constipation and toxemia, as an intestinal purgative meant to cleanse the body's lower
digestive system. Kellogg advocated colonic hydrotherapies augmented by diet, exercise,
and instruction in proper body mechanics. By inserting a speculum into the patient's
rectum, the therapist could inject water or other ingredients directly into the patient's
intestine and colon, thereby douching the internal organs. After a specified time, the
51
therapist removed the rectal nozzle and allowed the colon's contents to flood out.
Kellogg's therapists experimented with colonics of hot water, hot soapy water, cold
water, oil, paraffin oil, sugar and water, alum and glycerin.30
While sweating rooms and colonic devices were aimed at toxin elimination
through the vehicle of water, specially designed chairs and beds sought to physically prod
the body into eliminating its harbored wastes. Kellogg recommended patients suffering
from constipation undergo fifteen to twenty minutes on a bowel-kneading apparatus
twice a day (figure 13).
Figure 13. The Bowel-Kneading Apparatus, prior to 1915. (Image reproduced from Gerstner, 1996: p. 51.)
He also believed that abdominal massage could accelerate the body's digestion, the food
remaining in the stomach from fifteen to seventy-five minutes less than it would without
John Kellogg. 1915. Colon Hygiene: Comprising new and important facts concerning the physiology of
the colon and an account of practical and successful methods of combating intestinal inactivity and
toxemia. Battle Creek: Good Health Pub. Co.
52
this physical intervention.
The machine's rigid bed surmounted a cast iron frame that
included a rudimentary motorized system that caused raised dentils to hammer the
patient's lower abdomen. This rigid massage, administered one hour after major meals,
was intended to assist the digestive system in eliminating food waste.
While the sanitarium's machinery was a crucial actor in creating a place where
people learned to stay well, the sanitarium itself - by virtue of its unique social
atmosphere - was also an instrument of medical action, a "therapeutic operator" that
created a therapeutic place.
Rationalization and mechanization - sure signs of progress
in the 1890s - were unavoidable to guests on a daily basis, from diet prescriptions to
electric light baths. And certainly part of the reason for coming to the sanitarium was to
see and be seen. The expectation of social gathering, from nightly lectures delivered by
Kellogg, to group gymnastics (figure 14), formed a collaborative atmosphere.
John Kellogg. 1895. The Art of Massage: A practical manual for the student the nurse and the
practitioner. Battle Creek: Good Health Publishing Co.; p. 34.
" Michel Foucault. 1995. Discipline and Punish: The birth of the prison. Translated by A. Sheridan. New
York: Vintage Books; p. 172.; Fiona Smyth. 2005. Medical Geography: Therapeutic places, spaces and
networks. Progress in Human Geography 29 (4):488-495.
53
Another part of the attraction of the sanitarium as a special place of retreat was
that guests would gain access to the production of scientific knowledge, witnessing first
hand how the popular notion of "rationalization" could finally be applied to eating and
digestion, seeing the laboratory work that had such widespread rhetorical power, but a
limited public face. The laboratories at the sanitarium further claim that the sanitarium
itself was a particular type of therapeutic operator. In Livingston's geography of science
he discusses the role of the laboratory and the uniqueness of place:
Its production of experimental facts is inescapably tied to the reproduction of
equipment, with all the circularity inherent therein. In a fundamental sense,
laboratory knowledge is local knowledge. It is bound up with particular practical
54
know-how, with the on-site availability of appropriate bits of technology, and
with knowing one's way around machines.3
The special knowledge that Kellogg and his team of doctors, nurses, and chemists
produced - though certainly not intended as such - was applicable most poignantly in the
setting of the sanitarium. Distributing the hygienic philosophy outside the bounds of the
sanitarium was doomed to failure because it was impossible to replicate the experience of
having all the amenities and machines housed in proximity at the sanitarium, not to
mention teams of employees ensuring that patients lived by Kellogg's rules. In this
regard, the sanitarium was the lynchpin in the success of Kellogg's hygienic philosophy
and what set it apart most from other health proselytizing of the period. Attempts to sell
the sanitarium experience took the form of packaged food products, journal subscriptions,
and exercise machines that promised the consumer a healthier lifestyle; but the real
business success - the internationalization of breakfast cereal - did not happen until the
philosophy itself was compromised for more appealing products that matched the wellestablished taste for sugar in the Western world.34
Operation of the Sanitas Nut Food Company was well underway by 1898,
creating a large variety of nut-, fruit- and grain-based health foods. During the 1890s,
Sanitas was the manufacturing arm of the sanitarium, the place where raw materials and
machinery united with Kellogg's ideas of health to create products such as Protose,
David Livingstone. 2003. Putting Science in its Place: Geographies of scientific knowledge. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press; p. 142.
Horace B. Powell. 1956. The Original Has This Signature - W.K. Kellogg: The story of a pioneer in
industry and philanthropy. Battle Creek, Mich.: W.K. Kellogg Foundation.; Sidney W. Mintz. 1986.
Sweetness and Power: The place of sugar in modern history. New York: Penguin Books.
55
Nuttose, almond butter, and Fruitose to sell both locally and to distant markets.3^ The
leaders of the business, John and William Kellogg, ordered extensive experimentation in
the kitchen laboratory in their quest to concoct palatable and pure foods that would heal
wrongful living. 6 The kitchen lab housed the machinery required for outputting large
quantities of the relentless stream of ideas for food improvements that came from the
Kellogg brothers. Rollers, pans, ovens, roaster with gas burners, mills, kiln-dry,
blancher, steam kettle, and presses were some of the machines housed in the kitchen. It
was here that the claimed "precision" and "exactness" of scientific food production was
carried out. John Kellogg's food experiment notes written to William Kellogg and others
in the kitchen lab demonstrated John's thinking about mixing and matching products and
cooking methods:
I want to see some experiments made, also, with partially malted cereals, malting
the wheat before, and then making into granose, after cooking in dry steam and
drying, and also partially digesting the flour paste by adding malt meal until
considerable sugar is developed, then thickening with a flour made from well
browned zwiebach or well baked granola, then making into cakes like granola
biscuit, and grinding coarse like nuttola.37
The production of food realized as a scientific experiment was not the only means of
controlling a patient's digestion, nor were the closely watched therapeutic mechanisms
such as the bowel-kneading table.
John H Kellogg Papers, Box 8 / Business Papers I Sanitas Nut Food Company Michigan State
University Archives and Historical Collections, East Lansing, MI Protose was a beef steak substitute
comprised of cereals and nuts It was thought equivalent because of the protein content
lohn H Kellogg Papers, Box 5 / Business Papers I Food Experiments Michigan State University
Archives and Historical Collections, East Lansing, MI
M
John H Kellogg Papers I Food Experiments, 1898.
56
The systems of air circulation were paramount in the remaking of the sanitarium.
In 1878 the health guidelines of Kellogg's budding hygienic philosophy directed the
design of the building by introducing ventilation and heating systems that could be
controlled for each room. Kellogg firmly believed that the heating and ventilation of a
building must go together; as benefits to health they were inseparable. He iterated "'it
needs no argument to impress the fact that the amount of heat to be furnished in any
given instance must depend very largely upon the amount of fresh air to be supplied per
hour or minute."38 Kellogg relied on precise calculations regarding the amount of air that
is processed by the average person's lungs, and based the air flow volume in the
sanitarium on those figures. Kellogg believed that each exhalation contained a certain
amount of poison, and if the ventilation of a building were not adequate, the health of the
individual in that room or building would suffer.'
This same principal guided the
architectural separation of kitchen and dining areas.
Kellogg's philosophy of rational science could not be separated from the
sanitarium building. The building was a material projection of the ideas that emphasized
"hygienic" practices and experimentation as guiding principles. Indeed, to appreciate the
relation between sickness and wellness, one must have a "true conception of the object
of a sanitarium."40 The place to practice medicine, then, was the single most crucial
18
John Kellogg. 1891. Practical Suggestions Respecting the Ventilation of Buildings. In Ninetenth Annual
Report of the Secretary of the State Board of Health of the State of Michigan. Lansing, MI: Robert Smith &
Co., State Printers and Binders; p. cxviii.
19
Kellogg, 1891.
40
John Kellogg. 1890. The Ideal Sanitarium. Lecture read before the American Climatological Society
Sept. 2; p. 2.
57
component of a progressive program designed to eradicate the "rubbish of medieval
philosophy." Kellogg believed that a sanitarium should be a place where "health is
cultivated,"41 suggesting an emphasis on curing the patient rather than the disease. This
approach - the hygienic philosophy - could most succinctly be understood as a cure of
patients by changing their entire lifestyle. The eradication of bad habits, or "unhygienic
modes," and their replacement with right living, could not take place without the
architecture of the sanitarium. "The whole place must be filled with sturdy ideas about
health and wholesome living. The very atmosphere must breathe of health, and every
room must be illuminated with mental and moral sunshine."42 And so, the sanitarium's
hollow walls were insulated from the cold Michigan winters. The large patient rooms
and suites were oriented to receive the most amount of sunlight possible. Large balconies
with "commanding beautiful landscape views" were considered crucial.43 Sewerage was
also considered as an important point in the building design process. The removal of
stationary wash bowls and closets from patients' rooms was possible with the installation
of a sewage system. This relied heavily on the city's infrastructure, a topic explored in
chapter 4.
Beginning in the 1890s "Americans saw their lives invaded by a new aesthetic of
mechanized space" that was brought on by the profusion of engineering in society.44
41
Kellogg, 1890: p. 3.
42
Kellogg, 1890: p. 4.
41
Kellogg, 1890: p. 5.
44
de la Perm, 1999: p. 756.
58
Measuring the start of the Industrial Revolution in the early nineteenth century as a point
of dramatic increase in steam power that replaced human labor, engineering became an
occupation with great moral importance. If the teleological optimism advanced by
supporters of the American and French revolutions was to hold, nations needed the art of
engineering to make prosperous societies. Throughout the century engineering grew, as
de la Peria suggests, to be synonymous with an aesthetic of authority and progress. The
practice of engineering suggests the use of mechanical implements. The use of such
implements was so pervasive that we can find this impulse even in relation to the bodily
process of digestion. In order for Kellogg-the-artist to shape the guts of his thousands of
guests over the decades, a mass production of healing had to be implemented. This
required a vast infrastructure that connected the molding of the ""modern stomach" to the
implements of the sanitarium - connecting inside organs with outside world - creating a
geography of digestion.
The Rollers
By the 1890s experimentation in food production at the sanitarium was at its
apogee. Recipe notes circulated constantly between the Kellogg brothers and the
managers of the experimental kitchens.4' Granose was the name for what were
essentially wheat flakes, and was among the best selling of the health food products. Far
from a static product, Granose was being continually refined in efforts to concoct a
John H. Kellogg Papers. Box 5; Business Papers; Food Experiments; folders 1-3. Michigan State
University Archives and Historical Collections. This collection contains hundreds of original typed notes
that circulated among the food experimenters at the sanitarium.
59
palatable and clean food that would heal the deleterious effects of wrongful eating. The
experimental kitchen housed the machinery required for conducting the food
improvements handed down by the Kellogg brothers. In this advertisement (figure 15)
the worlds of outside and inside collided.
Something Good
to lit, a i l
Easy to Digest
^GRANOSE,
h itew cmml prepaatioa- made from the choicest wheat, by a process
wfitch retains all the elements of the grain. By combining the proc
earn* ot dlgeittiott* cooking, and roasting, by the «se of special machinery the wke&t ft brought into the term of delicateflakes,In which the
' M R IS thoroughly iislategwrted, m»d the starch largely converted into
dextrine, and thus made feadjffor solatioa by the digestive fuice and
for prompt assimilation.
~-GRANOSE~~
I* critp, delMotta, ftppetixlog» m& digests quicker than any
otter cereal preftiatlra. It. clears oft the tongue, rid* the
stomach of germs, n d cures o&nMIpattoii.
It i s tnti*p»i an incomparable food. Babies thrive upon it.
s
BOTH 6REIK SfMTflRiOI HttLTH FOOD CO.,
Battle Creefet Mich.
Figure 15. Advertisement for Granose (wheat flakes), 1896. (Image reproduced trom Kellogg, 1896.)
Wheat was readied for prompt assimilation into the body by "the use of special
machinery." The special machinery to which the ad refers consisted of two eight-inch
steel rollers between which dough was dried, flattened, then flaked (figure 16).
60
Figure 16. The original rollers used to make flaked wheat, 1894. (Image reproduced from Powell, 1956: p.
91.)
It was in 1894 that John Kellogg and his brother discovered the secret to flaking mashed
wheat. What up until then had been a messy process of rolling up the cooked mash, then
chiseling it off the rollers with a printer's knife, became much more efficient when they
found that a batch of cooked wheat would "flake" more easily if moisture were allowed
to penetrate the entire batch prior to rolling it flat.46 This realization, immediately
patented by the business-savvy brothers,47 would benefit and flourish from an agricultural
economy that was becoming ever-more equipped to bring wheat by the train-car load to
the Battle Creek mills for the mass-production of the locally made health foods.
Here wheat was fragmented into smaller bits and precooked so that the stomach
did not have to work as hard, therefore relieving the body from indigestion and its related
46
Robert Parr and Glyn Litser. 1996. The Sanitarium Health Food Company Story. Berkeley Vale,
Australia: Sanitarium Health Food Company.
47
John Kellogg. 1896. Flaked Cereals and Process of Preparing Same. United States: United States Patent
Office.
61
illnesses. The rollers were pre-digesters - an integral part of the digestive process - right
there in the Sanitas Nut Food Company. What one might now term a networked body,
Kellogg believed that what was happening at the roller machine would have a direct
material impact on the guts of his patients.
If one assumes two natural phenomena that limit industrial agriculture - the
productiveness of the land, and the amount that can be eaten by consumers - then in this
dissertation one witnesses both limits simultaneously. The productive limits of the land,
and the incessant pushing of those limits by industrial agriculture, have been described as
"appropriationism," the process of transforming aspects of agricultural production (e.g.
fertilizer inputs) into specific sectors of industrial activity, thereby removing particular
activities from farms that had previously been relatively closed economic and ecological
systems.
The rise of guano importers, or agricultural machinery factories, for example,
took material circulation off the farm and put it in a global economic circulation. This
type of economic activity began in earnest in the mid nineteenth century, and was in full
stride by 1890. In the digestive systems of patients at the Battle Creek Sanitarium the
same process was occurring at the other limit to industrial agriculture: at the site of the
body. By isolating a part of digestion and assigning it to the rollers - as pre-digestors Kellogg was "appropriating" and industrializing digestion, increasing the economic limits
of the agro-industrial complex. This would contribute to later developments in American
food processing that began at the sanitarium.
David Goodman, Bernardo Sorj, and John Wilkinson. 1987. From Farming to Biotechnology: A theory
of agro-industrial development. New York: BlackwelL
62
In April 1896 John Kellogg was granted a U.S. patent for the processing and
creation of flaked cereals (figure 17).
UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE,
JOIIX HABVKY KELT.OtJG, OF RATTLE CRKIK, MICHIGAN.
FLAKEO CEREALS AM© PROCESS OF PREPARING SAME.
B-mxtZiSAtim tonatag <pjtt«C XMt«n Sweat Its. S«,8»,fetedAjril W, t » e ,
4jff»J««*«*l K*j « , ! * « , S«M«» S ' U t i
Kjsfaj-win.
Figure 17. The original patent for flaked cereals, 1896. (Image reproduced from Kellogg, 1896 "Flaked
Cereals and Process of Preparing Same.")
In it he says
[m]y invention relates to an improved alimentary product and to the process of
making it; and the object of the improvement is to provide a food product which
is in a proper condition to be readily digested without any preliminary cooking or
heating operation, and which is highly nutritive and of an agreeable taste, thus
affording a food product particularly well adapted for sick and convalescent
49
persons.
Some of Kellogg's most explicit descriptions of how digestion works outside the body
appeared in the patent. In the first step of producing flaked cereal, the grain - whether
wheat, barley, oats, or corn - was to be soaked in water for about 10 hours at a
temperature that was neither too cool nor too warm for fermentation. Kellogg suggested
a water temperature between 40-60° F, or between 110-140° F. The agent of extracorporeal digestion was cerealin, "a starch-digesting organic ferment contained in the hull
of the grain or just beneath it ... [that] adds to the sweetness and flavor of the product."
Cerealin, like the steel rollers in the basement of the sanitarium, was doing the work of
49
Kellogg, 1896. "Flaked Cereals and Process of Preparing Same."
63
the digestive system, thus avoiding "violations of the laws of health." The conditions of
the digestive system that were not to be violated were 1) "the prompt absorption of the
digested food substances," 2) the emptying of the contents of the stomach 2-3 hours after
a meal, and 3) "the maintenance of an aseptic condition of the stomach,.. .a condition in
which the stomach is free from microbes, or germs."50 Kellogg thus strove to minimize
contact between food and the digestive organs as a way to cure indigestion - not
necessarily an illogical strategy. By giving his guests at the sanitarium food that would
move quickly through the body, or that was already "partially digested," the
pharmacological status of the grains was elevated. This was congruent with the
Adventist belief of not using drugs to heal, and using only foods in their "natural" state.
The Vents
The 1890s were an especially critical period in the transition of prevailing thought
about how bodies related to the outside world. For much of the nineteenth century,
bodies were viewed by the medical profession as malleable and porous, in constant
interaction with the environment. Etiology of disease was not traced to a single
pathogen, but instead was found in the landscape itself; the environment was an actor in
shaping how disease was created and cured. It was during this decade that germ theory
began to take hold as a viable alternative to this vision, and the technology and methods
used to propel germ theory (namely microscopic and chemical analysis) were mirrored in
the sanitarium laboratory, where the contents of patients' stomachs were examined.
50
Kellogg, 1896. "The Stomach": p. 56.
64
Environmental historian Linda Nash has analyzed how striking it is that medicine in this
period melded an ecological perspective of health with a bacteriological perspective.51 In
the bacteriological perspective, the epidermal borders of the body were seen as protectors
from microscopic outside pathogens, whereas in the ecological perspective the borders of
the body were seen as more interactive with the environment.
Kellogg's vision incorporated both of these paradigms. As such, local climate
and topography shaped the process of digestion at Battle Creek. Kellogg clearly affirmed
the power of science to "cure" his patients, but at the same time it was the characteristics
of the landscape that aided in the healing process. An 1883 advertisement for the
"Medical Surgical Sanitarium" claimed that the building boasted
a salubrious location, a water supply pronounced by an eminent chemist to be of
"Extraordinary Purity,' buildings constructed expressly for the purpose, and fitted
with all modern conveniences, including elevator, electric call, etc., thorough
ventilation, the most perfect system of sewerage which can be devised, making
contamination impossible, a full corps of competent and experienced physicians,
[and] well-trained assistants.'"
Kellogg and his Michigan architect clearly gave the design of the sanitarium
building an enormous amount of thought. Its placement in the landscape was the first
consideration - one that would "secure in its vicinity a dry and well-drained soil, and
good air, free from smoke, dust, malaria, and poisonous emanation of every sort."
He
sl
Linda Nash. 2006. Inescapable Ecologies: A history of environment, disease, and knowledge. Berkeley:
University of California Press.
^ Advertisement titled "Medical Surgical Sanitarium, Battle Creek, Mich.," ca. 1883. Courtesy of Loma
Linda University Department of Archives and Special Collections.
53
Kellogg, 1890: p. 4.
65
was opposed to locating the sanitarium in a climate that was not variable enough
throughout the year: "the dead level of perfect climatic equability results in a loss of that
power of adjustment to changing meteorological states, which is one of Nature's most
effective means of defense against perturbing influences of many sorts."5 He exalted the
Michigan winter as a "real health opportunity" because of its air, which was thought to be
cleaner - free of dust, germs, and flies. The increased amount of oxygen in the dense,
cold air was also considered to be a benefit to health.55 Clashing epistemes were
commonplace in Kellogg's rhetoric, even in the same article. On the one hand there is
talk of rational medicine - investigation, experimentation, and creation of principles. On
the other hand, even as Kellogg rejects the ancient medical wisdom, he borrows from it
by his attention to climatic variation and the role of Nature in curing his patients.
In the nineteenth century, many Americans were "preoccupied with trying to find
surroundings that would keep them healthy, and avoid places that would make them
sick."'
The elevated topographical situation of the sanitarium building reflected
widespread beliefs about the relationship between environment and health in the 1890s.
In that decade, for example, a Lansing physician and later secretary of the Michigan State
Board of Health wrote that a "residence on low, moist ground tends toward the
,4
Kellogg, 1890: pp. 4-5.
lS
John Kellogg, n.d. "The Cold Air Cure." From the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan
Conevery B. Valencius. 2002. The Health of the Country: How American Settlers Understood
Themselves and Their Land. New York: Perseus Books; p. 86.
66
occurrence of consumption "
In a Battle Creek booster publication 11 years later, this
knowledge was still in use, happily proclaiming that the sanitarium rests 60 feet above
the Kalamazoo River:
Pure air, pure water, and a porous, well drained soil are among the most essential
features of a first class location for a sanitarium. A happy combination of these
essential elements [is] found at Battle Creek
The soil is a sandy loam overlying
a bed of clean gravel sixty feet m depth. The surface is rolling, and slopes toward
the Kalamazoo river, a beautiful stream which courses along between the hills
sixty feet below the site of the Sanitarium.58
Indeed, buildings with a "high, healthful position, situated near but above rivers, were
considered ideal " 59 The problem with low-lying lands was their wetness and stillness of
air Dry soil with ventilating winds was thought of as the most cleansing environmental
properties, a belief that Kellogg promoted equally alongside his scientific
prosylytizations He says that "the climate of elevated regions is superior to all others lor
persons suffering from certain grave pulmonary disorders
Go a mile up in the air, if
you wish to find health "60 In the search to translate this long held belief into the
language of science, Kellogg uses the compound carbon dioxide Carbon dioxide is
"heavier than air, and consequently it collects in such low places as deep wells, old
cellars, and deep valleys "61 To avoid the deleterious effects that CO2 can have on the
Henry Baker 1890 The Climatic Causation of Consumption Journal of the American Medical
Association 14 (3) 73
Calhoun County Souvenir Commemorating the Battle Creek Journal's fiftieth anniversary Calhoun
County, her industries and sketches of her representative citizens 1901 Battle Creek, MI Battle Creek
Journal, page 76
,J
Valencius, 2002 p 88
f0
John Kellogg 1895 The Climate of Mexico in Relation to Health Good Health, January
61
Kellogg, 1891
67
body, and on digestion, patients at the sanitarium were ordered to spend time outside, and
- commensurate with their degree of sickness and the depth of their pocketbooks - were
given balcony rooms on the addition's fifth and six floors, far away from the low points
in the landscape (figure 18).
Figure 18. View looking southwest from the fifth floor of the sanitarium, ca. 1897. (Image courtesy of the
Loma Linda University Department of Archives and Special Collections.)
68
Kellogg believed that "thousands of patients die in hospitals for want of fresh air." '
Circulation was meant to prevent the health problems associated with stale, still air. That
the atmosphere itself could cause infections, especially in confined, shared hospital
wards, was considered common knowledge among medical practitioners throughout the
nineteenth century.63 Inadequate ventilation set up an environmental condition whereby
any disease could become infectious. Indeed, the "effective placement of windows,
doors, fireplaces, and the siting of the building itself so as to maximize the circulation of
fresh air were all established principles of hospital architecture by midcentury."64
In the same way that the maintenance of health relied on a clean, efficient
metabolic process in the guts, it relied on the circulation of clean air through the
environment. Proper digestion could not be achieved without the proper air. *'A man
who should deprive himself of ordinary food, would be pronounced a suicide. Is he any
less a transgressor who deprives himself.. .of a still greater necessity, pure air?"65 For
this purpose, the sanitarium materially extended the body into the outside environment.
In order for patients to maintain a constant supply of curative fresh air, this accordionlike tube connected the outside directly to the head of the patient (figure 19).
62
Kellogg, n.d. "The Cold Air Cure," emphasis added.
63
Rosenberg, 1987: p. 124.
64
Rosenberg, 1987: p. 127.
6
John Kellogg. 1885. Practical Manual of Health and Temperance: Embracing the treatment of common
diseases, accidents and emergencies, the alcohol and tobacco habit, useful hints and recipes. Battle Creek:
Good Health Publishing Co.; p. 67
69
Figure 19. The "Porte-air" vent, ca. 1900. (Image reproduced from Gerstner, 1996: p. 30.)
The ten-meter digestive system that we think of as beginning at the mouth and ending at
the anus was extended for patients at the sanitarium - in very tube-like fashion - to the
world: here was the extensible body. By giving patients a direct connection to pure,
elevated, oxygenated air, the systems of digestion could function properly. Indeed,
Kellogg claimed "mechanical and other means of assisting 'natural draft' are ...
necessary accessories to a system of natural ventilation."66
While the ideological components of Kellogg's hygienic philosophy were not
necessarily new, the place where these practices were carried out - the architecture of
healing - was a new type of place. On the one hand the sanitarium served as the place
66
Kellogg, 1891: p. cxxv.
70
where Kellogg's brand of health was performed; it was irreproducible. On the other
hand, while Kellogg in many ways strove to make the sanitarium a rejuvenating
monasterial retreat - a place removed from an industrialized, urbanized society that was
leaving people worn out67 - it was in fact connected to wide-ranging networks of
practitioners in nutritional science, medical science, hydrotherapy, and religion. Ideas
did not simply hatch from inside the borders of the sanitarium walls. Although a
historical lineage may be traced from the sanitarium to many other places across the
eastern United States and western Europe, the way these outside points of influence were
translated and woven together by Kellogg was in fact unique.
of Archives and Special Collections.)
Michael McGerr. 2003. A Fierce Discontent: The rise and fall of the Progressive movement in America,
1870-1920. New York: Free Press; p. 222.
71
Chapter 3: Scientific Eating
The multitude of codes that directed Battle Creek patient behavior resonated with
Kellogg's contemporary health reformers and have a familiar ring today: don't smoke,
exercise and wash regularly, dress comfortably, sit up straight, and most importantly for
our purposes here, eat right. Having a place to perform, or enact, the philosophy is what
set Kellogg apart from the countless other health proselytizers who drew from one or
more of the traditions outlined in chapter 2. Isolating the kitchen from the recuperative
spaces, developing a conjoined dining-gymnasium-laboratory, the sanitarium provided an
environment conducive to healthful digestion. While Kellogg's business acumen was
largely predicated on his development of a new form of the sanitarium campus - the
place of well-being and recuperation - his hygienic philosophy coequivalently resided in
his preoccupation with digestive processes.
In the late nineteenth century as today, there was a consensus that the digestive
system included five organs: the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large
intestine. Kellogg conceptualized this system as enclosed, sealed off from contact with
any other part of the body, which he often represented pictorially (figure 21).
Rachel Armstrong. 1996. The Body as an Architectural Space: From lips to anus (the gastrointestinal tract
as a site for redesigning and development). Architectural Design 66 (9/10):86-91.
72
Figure 21. John Kellogg's rendition of the digestive system, 1913. (Image reproduced from John Kellogg.
1913. Constipation: How to fight it. Battle Creek, MI: Good Health Publishing Co. Courtesy of the Bentley
Historical Library, University of Michigan.)
Averaging about ten meters in length, the digestive system meandered through the body,
concealing the action of the digestive juices on the food, and its subsequent absorption
into the bloodstream, or excretion of the waste products. The charting of a self-contained
system - with protective gates to the outside world - meant that for John Kellogg the
gastro-intestinal tract was, along with the skin, the part of the body that touched the world
most, and therefore required the greatest attention. In this thinking Kellogg was not
alone. One of his University of Michigan Medical School senior colleagues who studied
73
intestinal absorption went so far as to categorize digestion as an "externaf process as
compared to other clandestine "internal" processes.2
Biological and technical advances in medicine since the 1880s - rabies vaccine,
tuberculin therapy, x-ray, diphtheria antitoxin - "helped establish in mass culture two
new intertwined notions: 'medicine is scientific' and 'medicine makes progress.""
Indeed, by the 1880s "scientific knowledge and, equally important, the image of science
had already become deeply embedded in the social process of delivering medical care."
Before this time it was common knowledge that interaction with doctors and stays at
hospitals were risky, and frequently meant an increase in a patient's discomfort.5
Hospitals, or early versions of them, essentially served as hospices for the dying. The
success of the Battle Creek Sanitarium rested on its ability to counter this notion in
popular discourse. It was a place where people believed they could go vacation and rest
to activate their health, and leave feeling better. For Kellogg to assuage the fears of
potential patients who were wary of going to an institution that appeared not unlike a
"filthy" hospital, he showcased the use of scientific practices and apparatuses, and his
connections with the new rational health regime.
" Frederick Inman. 1864. Absorption. Thesis, Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann
Arbor
Bert Hansen. 1999 New Images of a New Medicine. Visual Evidence for the Widespread Popularity ol
Therapeutic Discoveries in America After 1885. Bulletin of the History of Medicine 73 (4).630
Charles E. Rosenberg. 1987. The Care of Strangers' The rise of America's hospital system New York
Basic Books; pp. 143-44.
Paul Starr 1982 The Social Transformation of American Medicine' The rise of a sovereign profession
and the making of a vast industry. New York. Basic Books.
74
Kellogg was emphatic about conducting medical experiments and publishing the
results. While he was a contributor to the Journal of the American Medical Association
and the Michigan State Board of Health Reports, his main outlet was through his own
journal, Modern Medicine, published in Battle Creek by the Adventist-funded publishing
house of the same name. Kellogg contributed to solving some of the major concerns of
medicine in this period, and was not bashful about presenting his involvement with the
medical community to patients and potential patients.
The rise of bacteriology was the single biggest event in late nineteenth-century
medicine and it framed the contemporary debates and types of experiments occurring
both nationally and at the sanitarium. The gradual realization and acceptance that
diseases existed as microorganisms, or germs, gave rise to the practice of aseptic hospital
surgery, along with the broader cultural trends of cleanliness and sterilization.
Laboratory-based research in bacteriology began in the United States later than it did in
Europe. Michigan was one of the first states - in 1887 - to establish a state hygienic
laboratory, and in 1889 the University of Michigan became the first place in the United
States to offer formal laboratory courses in bacteriology.6 Kellogg was at the center of
this trend, as he was a member of the Michigan State Board of Health in 1890-91, serving
as chair of the "disposal of excreta" committee. Progressive, scientific medicine was part
of the culture in southern Michigan, a phenomenon that Kellogg assimilated, contributed
to, and wove into the hygienic philosophy of living.
6
John Duffy. 1990. The Sanitarians: A history of American public health. Urbana. University of Illinois
Press; pp. 193-94.
75
As the halls and rooms of the sanitarium were kept assiduously clean, so were the
corridors and organs of the digestive system. Gastric juice with "germicidal power" was
the best gastric juice one could have. At this point in time, Kellogg was convinced that
all bacteria were harmful, and that a sterile body was a healthy body. But at the
sanitarium as well as on a larger societal scale, the paradigm shift away from
environmental etiology to bacteriology was not so crisp. Even at the turn of the century,
advertisements such as those that the Cuticura Company placed in the Battle Creek Daily
Journal demonstrate the hybridization of classical thinking on disease with the
contemporary germ obsession (figure 22).
John Kellogg 1895 What is the Matter with the American Stomach ? Battle Creek, Mich Modern
Medicine Pub Co
The double meaning of sterile as "incapable of producing offspring" and "free from microorganisms" is
appropriate Kellogg's sexually repressive advice is outlined and criticized in Hugh M Hefner 1964 The
Playboy Philosophy The seventeenth part of a statement in which playboy's editor-publisher spells out - lor
friends and critics alike - our guiding principles and editorial credo Playboy, July
76
HUMOR GERMS
' ARE
EXPELLED
BY
Cuticura Resolvent
Iriiist if BM ftfisrs til
Humor Cms,
llllll,,..,ttitm,l
U|„
,/^n
Tfa&l i» to ««y» ft pwrfie* the blood mud clrea.
iatfeg iafdtosf HWtfe* GKBMS, a»d tittw reawve*
tt* oztM*!» wfaife marm bath* with CCTJCOR*
804% j»i#«tBtt*MM>!iJttai« with Cimctsiu. (oiat.
m®%gre»te#fe,^f emollient rtta caret, ele»n»
Uba skta'asd smtp of ent«t« apd «!#*, allay
Bgilag,
taralnf, sod inflammation, stsi iKWtiw
'*~~,ifcfttti.,,Tfans «m »peeifty, permtae»fl|V «ni
i«rtJf cared the mosttortwrtog,dliftgar. jfeMiiilt&tfng tomans of the **£&, scalp,
*i*wittt l0»s»f Jiair, when thefesrtpby»
Mmi all other remedied fail.
• th« w»rld, Priee, Conmaut AMCH>
CwiceKJtftMJutaifttM,Se.r Crrteeiu
ffi^jS^
Figure 22. Cuticura Company, "Humor Germs" Advertisement, 1899. (Image reproduced from the Battle
Creek Daily Journal, 1899. Courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.)
Kellogg's responses to the aseptic discourse varied, and were especially
idiosyncratic with respect to surgical technologies. As an experienced gastrointestinal
surgeon, Kellogg invented a new method for draining the abdomen after surgery.
He
realized that through the process of an abdominal surgery the required drainage tube that
would connect to the patient for days following the surgery could become infected.
Kellogg answered this problem by inventing a tube device (figure 23), which was
designed to prevent outside air from moving backwards through the tube and into the
9
John Kellogg. 1892. Antiseptic Drainage in Abdominal Surgery. Bacteriological World and Modern
Medicine.
77
patient's body, while still performing its function of clearing out the abdomen of excess
fluid.
i:\ -,i ' 4,
M '
>t -
(!*"
.^?
1 v ! ^ l"-<~<>
S«!i) #riK» MliW 1>l* >,?rr«tl
sgr '«i»
it ,.1
Figure 23. Antiseptic drainage tube for abdominal surgery, 1892. Invented by John Kellogg. (Image
reproduced from Kellogg, 1892. Courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.)
As the "Humor Germs" advertisement makes clear, there were differing opinions
in popular culture about how to stay healthy. Kellogg was a confident, forceful voice
concerning manners of health, and he used these types of machines to demonstrate his
authority as someone on the cutting edge of bacteriological discourse.
Between the 1880s and 1890s there was a shift in the way Kellogg presented the
hygienic philosophy, from a broad type of proselytizing based mostly in religion to the
more precise language of science. In an 1884 lecture he says "every bit of pepper-sauce,
ginger, and pepper, every piece of rich pie, every piece of cheese, sausage, ham, and all
78
that sort of thing that goes into a man's stomach is poisoning his blood and cutting off the
other end of his life."10 By means of comparison, in 1895 Kellogg writes that in order to
analyze stomach fluid he performs a "quantitative estimation of both the sugar (maltose)
found in the gastric juice, and the dextrin and soluble starch, establishing a coefficient by
the relation existing between the converted and the unconverted starch."11 This shift in
language represents a move away from eschatological admonishment towards the
clinically objective voice of science. Without dramatically altering his rhetoric, Kellogg
may very well not have been able to expand the patronage of the sanitarium.
How was this new language of science translated into practice at the sanitarium?
The impulse to minimize body-environment interaction is an offspring of germ theory. If
the insides of bodies were touching the outside world too much, it was thought that there
were too many opportunities for bacteria to work their sinister deeds. To absorb nutrients
and discard the rest before it became more poisonous was the philosophy of eating and
digestion at the sanitarium. Kellogg described the connection between digestion and
health by saying that "every cell and fiber of the body is dependent upon the quality and
quantity of material absorbed from the alimentary canal."12 He thought that too little
food weakened the functions of the organs, and too much food overwhelmed the body's
tissues with toxic substances. He referred to the processes by which food became toxic
John Kellogg. 1884. "Sanitarium Lectures- How to Live a Century," Feb 15. Courtesy of the Bentley
Historical Library, University of Michigan.
11
John Kellogg. 1895. "Experimental Research Relating to Salivary Secretion and Digestion." Reprinted
from Modern Medicine, February, p. 2.
John Kellogg. 1896. The Stomach: Its disorders and how to cure them. Battle Creek, MI: Modern
Medicine Publishing Co.; p. 18.
79
fermentation and putrefaction, both of which occurred in the digestive system. If food
was not evacuated from the intestines every five hours, then the digestive process, or that
of absorption, stopped, and fermentation and putrefaction began, changing potentially
healthy food into toxins. This fear of toxicity undergirded the extreme, regimented
defecation schedule for patients at the sanitarium. Constant circulation of material in and
out of the body - the body's economy - was Kellogg's way of guaranteeing that contact
with the outside world vis-a-vis food consumption maximized the necessary, beneficial
aspects of nutrient absorption, but minimized the time the digestive system was in contact
with food.
The emphasis that immobile foods became poison in the body was a notion
informed by the writings of French physician Charles Bouchard, whose Lectures on
Auto-Intoxication in Disease popularized the malady "auto-intoxication," or selfpoisoning.1" Bouchard writes that "man is constantly standing, as it were, on the brink of
a precipice; he is constantly on the threshold of disease. Every moment of his life he runs
the risk of being overpowered by poisons generated within his system. Self-poisoning is
only prevented by the activity of his excretory organs."14 Nineteenth-century scientists,
including Pasteur and Bouchard, wrote that chemical compounds called ptomaines were
responsible for the growth of diseases in bodies. When the bacteria living in the
intestinal canal acted on organic matter (food), ptomaines were created. Not all
Charles Bouchard. 1894. Lectures on Auto-intoxication in Disease; or, Self-poisoning of the Individual.
Philadelphia: F.A. Davis. The publication rapidly went into ten editions in the United States between the
years 1884-1910.
14
Bouchard, 1894: p. viii.
80
ptomaines were considered toxic, but part of their character was that they contained
nitrogen, and therefore resembled the feared alkaloids. Since ptomaines developed in
relation to the type of bacteria present in the digestive system, "it must follow that the
alkaloid formed will depend upon the peculiar bacterium present, the nature of the
material acted upon, the conditions under which putrefaction goes on, and probably, too,
upon the health of the individual in whose body the putrefactive processes are taking
place.
Maximizing the right conditions inside the body - encouraging the healthiest
intestinal biotic community, as we might say today - was a major impetus for
establishing the experiment kitchen at the sanitarium. "In 1876 when Dr. Kellogg
became superintendent of the reorganized Sanitarium one of the first problems was the
creation of a new and more satisfactory dietary."16 Digestibility and wholesomeness had
always been the key characteristics of diet reform at the sanitarium, which often meant
large amounts of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. In the early days of the sanitarium,
though, in the late 1870s, the bills of fare tended to dissuade guests from staying. With a
diet that precluded not only meat, but also sugar, desserts, gravies, condiments, and even
salt, the sanitarium chefs had - not surprisingly perhaps - failed to discover how to make
food that matched the tastes of their constituency. What remained was "a rather
uninviting residue" consisting of pearl barley and cracked wheat gruels, which required
15
Bouchard, 1894: p. vi.
16
Dr. Kellogg Recalls Early Sanitarium Diet Experiments. 1938. Battle Creek Moon-Journal, November
21, Vol. 24.
81
overnight steaming to make them edible.17 With this cuisine it is hard to blame some of
the guests who actually developed bouts of indigestion after arriving at the sanitarium. It
was no mystery to locals, either, that there was much more exciting cuisine to be had.
Battle Creek locals not associated with the Adventist community referred to the
sanitarium population as "mealy mouths" and "peanut pushers," and would often heckle
the doormen by smoking just outside the building.18
After having returned from an 1882 trip to Europe, John Kellogg asked his wife
Ella Eaton Kellogg to design and operate an "experiment kitchen" in an attempt to solve
the problem of bland and unscientific cuisine. As its name suggests, the experiment
kitchen was a laboratory-inspired place for concocting new appetizing dishes, the making
of which would be carried out with the same precision as was done with the chemical
analyses of guests' stomachs. Before embarking on this undertaking, Ella attended
cooking schools on the east coast. It was during this period that Ellen Richards founded
the discipline of home economics, publishing The Chemistry of Cooking and Cleaning
(1880) and Food Materials and Their Adulterations (1885), undoubtedly influential to
Ella, who had started operating the experiment kitchen in 1883.19 After she began serious
work in the experiment kitchen, Ella ran the kitchen for nearly 20 years, at least up until
17
Quotation and much of this information is from the 1938 Moon-Journal article. Also from Gerald
Carson. 1957. Cornflake Crusade. New York: Rinehart & Co.; p. 117.
Ix
"Millions in Every Bushel," 1958. Memoir of Earl Henry Rathbun. Courtesy of the Bentley Historical
Library, University of Michigan.
19
Sarah Stage. 1997. Ellen Richards and the Social Significance of the Home Economics Movement. In
Rethinking Home Economics: Women and the history of a profession, edited by S. Stage and V. B.
Vincenti. Ithaca: Cornell University Press; p. 23.
82
the 1902 fire that destroyed the building. Her 1920 obituary identified her greatest
accomplishment to be the sanitarium diet.20 Since 1883
Mrs. Kellogg has had constant oversight of the cuisine of both the Sanitarium and
the Sanitarium Hospital, preparing bills of fare for the general and diet tables, and
supplying constantly new methods and original recipes to meet the changing and
growing demands of an institution numbering always from 500 to 700 inmates."
As with John Kellogg, Ella Kellogg grounded her dietary regimen in the creation of a
new type of place. The design of the experiment kitchen (figure 24) as it existed through
the 1880s and 1890s was carefully laid out by Ella Kellogg, and reflected the trends in
home economics that she had been exposed to in her training.
" "In Memoriam: Ella Eaton Kellogg," 1920. Reprinted from Good Health, July. Accessed at the Willard
Library, Battle Creek, Michigan.
Ella E. Kellogg. 1893. Science in the Kitchen: The principles of healthful cookery. Battle Creek, MI:
Modern Medicine Publishing Co.; p. 3.
83
Figure 24. The sanitarium's "Experiment Kitchen," as managed by Ella Kellogg, ca. 1895. (Image
courtesy of the Loma Linda University Department of Archives and Special Collections.)
Good sunlight and ventilation were considered imperative, achieved by the use of
windows on at least two sides of the room, designed so that they opened from the top "for
a complete change of air."22 She emphasized this point: "the ventilation of the kitchen
should be so ample as to thoroughly remove all gasses and odors, which, together with
steam from boiling and other cooking processes, generally invade and render to some
degree unhealthful every other portion of the house."23 Her attention to sanitation was
consistent with the rise of bacteriology, and indeed, in the field of home economics
bacteriology "figured prominently in the early discipline's teachings about a wide range
22
E. Kellogg, 1893: p. 60.
84
of topics, including home sanitation, interior decoration, and food preparation."" The
capability of the kitchen to poison other parts of the building tells us that at the sanitarium
great attention was given to the separation of food preparation and eating. That the byproducts of cooking could become poisonous despite food's medicinal benefits
demonstrated the Kelloggs' belief that food required scientific interventions aimed at
purification and cleansing, interventions that would have a minimal impact on the body.
The proper intestinal conditions were fostered with measured and calculated food
preparations, intended to lessen the development of harmful ptomaines.
Ella Kellogg's experiments in these decades formed the dietary regime for which
the sanitarium became so well known. A bill of fare based on unseasoned whole grains
was slowly replaced by a cornucopia of foods, which I argue was a large part of the
Battle Creek Sanitarium's success, as it contributed to the resort-like pampering that
guests sought and valued. The diet lists from Ella Kellogg's 1893 publication, the
culmination of her research and experimentation, are reminiscent of today's luxury spa
menus. One recommended breakfast diet included fresh fruit; itemized as apples,
bananas, grapes, pears, raspberries, or strawberries; rolled oats; gravy toast; corn puffs;
rolled wheat; hominy gems; celery; and baked sweet potatoes.
Ella Kellogg was not hesitant to use the term "scientific" to describe her dietetics,
for the word connoted credibility, and was frequently coupled with the word
2
' E. Kellogg, 1893: p. 61.
Nancy Tomes. 1997. Spreading the Germ Theory: Sanitary science and home economics, 1880-1930. In
Rethinking Home Economics: Women and the history of a profession, edited by S. Stage and V. B.
Vincenti. Ithaca: Cornell University Press; p. 34.
85
"experimentation." Developing a new diet regime also hinged on the realization that
without it the diet message was one of negatives. The list of foods to not eat was
established, but it was unclear how those foods should be replaced. Driven by the firm
belief in the curative properties of food that was prophesized by Ellen G. White, the
Kelloggs were determined to establish a new, healthful, hygienic diet. As Ella pointed
out, "it is often particularly difficult for the housewife long accustomed to the use of
foods of a different character, to make up a menu of hygienic properly adapted to all
requirements."25 What came out of these nearly 20 years of experiments fed thousands of
guests at the sanitarium, helped create the world's first and most popular breakfast cereal,
and to this day reflects the traditional Seventh-day Adventist way of eating.
The transformation of food to medicine is one of the hallmarks of the Battle Creek
Sanitarium's enterprise. Local journalists of the time proclaimed that the sanitarium's
diet kitchen "serves the same purpose in relation to the diet prescriptions that the
pharmacy or a drug store serves in relation to medicinal prescriptions."26 Food chemistry
was the method by which Kellogg realigned the meaning of food to fit his vision of
health. Modeling his diet kitchens after chemical laboratories, he was able to quantify
dosages of food items and give them to patients based on their ailments, creating health
by waving the wand of nutritional science over nature. "The kitchen in such a scheme as
this," says Kellogg, "must be organized as a laboratory and conducted under laboratory
2S
E. Kellogg, 1893: pp. 481-82.
_1
Calhoun County Souvenir: Commemorating the Battle Creek Journal's fiftieth anniversary: Calhoun
County, her industries and sketches of her representative citizens. 1901. Battle Creek, MI: Battle Creek
Journal; p. 83.
86
rules and in harmony with laboratory principles."
The impulse to frame the
sanitarium's purpose as a scientific research institution was not uncommon in the 1890s,
and came from the university research institute that had become an established form of
scientific practice in Germany.28
The arrival of human nutritional science to the United States in the late 1880s
offered John Kellogg a tool with which to buttress claims about "eating right" that he and
Ella had been making since the 1870s. While by the 1880s the term "science" had
already been applied to many industries and activities, the scientization of food
preparation and consumption came later. As Ella wrote, "the preparation of food has
been less advanced by the results of modern researches and discoveries in chemistry and
physics, than any other department of human industry."29 She cited industries such as
agriculture, iron mining, and glass making as departments that have modernized with the
help of science, but food preparation and consumption were surprisingly lacking. The
sanitarium would become one of the first major non-governmental institutions in the
United States to direct that modernist urge - the propensity to apply science - towards
food consumption. The inherently small scale of molecular analysis and the subsequent
categorization of food's constituent parts, namely carbohydrates, proteins, fat, and
John Kellogg. 1908. The Battle Creek Sanitarium System: History, organization, methods. Battle Creek,
Ml: Gage Printing Co.; p. 119.
William F. Bynum. 1994. Science and the Practice of Medicine in the Nineteenth Century. New York:
Cambridge University Press; p. 154.
29
E. Kellogg, 1893: p. 3.
87
calories, gave Kellogg a language with which to formalize and quantify what before, in
the home health book genre, had been mostly a matter of religious faith.
When Wilbur Atwater was appointed director of the federal office of the
Agricultural Experiment Stations in 1888, he would use his position to explore what was
the new (at least in the United States) field of scientific human nutrition. Previous forays
into the relations of food consumption and human physiology were undertaken most
earnestly by the German chemist Justus von Liebig. Liebig was ultimately interested, to
put it broadly, in understanding how materials coursed around the earth and through
bodies, and what effects that movement had on plants, animals, and people. Circulation
of matter took on different queries for Liebig, from the constitution of blood, to the
"metamorphoses of tissues," to the "restitution of an equilibrium in the soil."30 This
pairing of interests in human physiology and agricultural science gives us a clue as to
how the field of human nutrition would emerge in the United States from perhaps an
unlikely source: the Agricultural Experiment Stations. Almost all of the founders and
leading practitioners at the American experiment stations trained directly with Liebig,
and were able to extend his concerns to human nutrition.
Liebig, who studied
agriculture, physiology, and botany, saw that the twin processes of absorption and
circulation found in soils and plants were applicable to the human body as well.32 He
Justus von Liebig. 1840. Organic Chemistry in its Applications to Agriculture and Physiology London
Taylor and Walton.
1
Margaret W. Rossiter. 1975. The Emergence of Agricultural Science: Justus Liebig and the Americans,
1840-1880. New Haven. Yale University Press.
" Justus von Liebig. 1843 Familiar Letters on Chemistry, and its Relation to Commerce, Physiology and
Agriculture. Philadelphia. Campbell.
88
claimed that the passage of the elements of digested food through membranes of the
intestinal canal and subsequent entrance into the bloodstream operated under the same
principles as the movement of nitrogen, carbon, phosphorous, and ammonia through the
roots and leaves of plants into its sap. Liebig marks the earliest modern forays into the
chemistry of human nutrition, and his efforts were brought to the United States most
notably through one of his American students, Wilbur Atwater.
Training in chemistry (as well as other disciplines) at a German university
differed from that in U.S. institutions in three notable ways. One was Lernfreiheit, or
freedom of learning, meaning that the student could choose his or her faculty and lectures
as deemed appropriate by the student. Second was Lehreiheit, or freedom of teaching.
Ideally this benefited the student because he or she gained access to original ideas. It
benefited the teachers by protecting them from state restraint. And third was the notion
of the original research project. This was the element of German training most unlike
that in the U.S., because it meant that "mere acquaintance with a body of knowledge was
not enough.... [T]he first task of the student of chemistry was to master the methods of
science; he then had to apply those methods to at least one of the unsolved problems in
his field."33 All told, about 1,000 American chemists received advanced degrees in
Germany between 1850-1920.34 Those returning would push for change in the American
system, which focused on creating a college experience that would make cultured citizens
rather than on what was seen in the U.S. as specialized technical education. This change
Edward H. Beardsley. 1964. The Rise of the American Chemistry Profession, 1850-1900. Vol. 23,
University of Florida Monographs: Social Sciences. Gainesville: University of Florida Press; p. 17.
14
Beardsley, 1964: p. 14.
89
eventually happened because the results of scientific experimentation were powerful and
profitable engines to industry, and came to gather a lofty cultural status of their own.
Securing funding for his new human nutrition research was not easy, and
occupied a number of years of Atwater's professional life.
His success rested in his
ability to frame nutritional science as a prerequisite to solving the problem of industrial
wages and labor productivity, an argument that rested on the conception of workers as
machines.36 Due to rising labor unrest, policy makers and social observers realized that
wages in the industrial sector were too low. Rather than suggest a wage increase or admit
to a broken economic system, Atwater claimed that he could scientifically formulate the
most efficient dietary regime for the American worker.
His plan would obliterate
differences not only in individual body type and eating patterns, but also among the
varied regional and ethnic culinary traditions amongst the nation's industrial workers.
The plan was based on the logic of separating food products into their constituent parts,
then mathematically figuring which combination of foods would provide all the
necessary elements. By 1896 he co-published an entire volume that listed "the chemical
composition of American food materials" so that the working class could be properly
instructed by the federal government on what foods would provide their machine-bodies
"Rossiter, 1975. p. 163.
' Naomi Aronson. 1982. Nutrition as a Social Problem: A case study of entrepreneurial strategy in science
Social Problems 29 (5):474-487; Anson Rabinbach. 1992. The Human Motor' Energy, fatigue, and origins
of modernity. Berkeley: University of California Press.
17
Kenneth Carpenter. 1994. The Life and Times of W.O. Atwater (1844-1907). Journal of Nutrition
124.1707S-1714S
90
with the exact minimum amount of energy to get through the day without ruining their
entire family budget.38
The instrument that achieved this culturally flattening, quantitative food
consumption model was the respiration calorimeter. The calorimeter was
a room-sized chamber in which the subject lived for several days. The chamber
was equipped with an air-tight door, a ventilation system, electricity, telephones,
and tubes to pass food into the chamber and excretory products out. A
complicated arrangement of pumps, motors, fans, and freezers maintained the
system.
Reminiscent of penitentiary cells, but rendered as a human laboratory, the calorimeter
distanced the fuel and waste associated with human digestion from the body itself. It was
the perfect model for the Battle Creek Sanitarium.
Kellogg adopted the use of Atwater's calorimeter as a diagnostic and treatment
tool. Calorimeter data were collected and disseminated, and became necessary
instruments in the fabrication of the food products that would have the most beneficial
effects on patients" bodies. Kellogg claimed that the average individual required 2.8
ounces of proteids, 1.2 ounces of fats, and 16 ounces of carbohydrates per day.40 Since
the average individual had access to neither the equipment nor the knowledge required to
concoct meals that would fulfill such measurements, Kellogg devised a plethora of diet
lists, booklets, and prescriptions that would guide one's eating habits (figure 25).
' Wilbur O. Atwater and Chas D. Woods. 1896. The Chemical Composition of American Food Materials:
Bulletin No. 28. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office; U.S. Department of Agriculture Office ol
Experiment Stations.
1y
Aronson, 1982: p. 476.
John Kellogg. 1899. Balanced Bills of Fare: Arranged with reference to the normal daily ration; and the
needs of special classes of invalids. Battle Creek, MI: Good Health Pub. Co.
91
1
FRUITS, G R A I N S , A N D NUTS.
CALORIES
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......
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is
s
; I'rtrteids,
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!
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?
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: I
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Figure 25. Nutritional categories of proteids, fats, carbohydrates, and calories were established in the
United States largely through the work of Wilbur Atwater, and borrowed by Kellogg in this 1899 chart.
(Image reproduced from Kellogg, 1899. Courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library, University of
Michigan.)
It was through such "modern ideas of hygiene, sanitation, and rational medicine" that
patients at the Sanitarium were diagnosed and cured. Examining the patient's stomach
was the first step in the diagnostic process, and each new patient was subjected to a postmeal analysis of digestive fluids:
Physical examination is carried as far as rational medicine at present known to the
profession will allow, and includes microscopical and bacteriological
investigations in cases upon which such studies may throw light; in cases
requiring it, an exhaustive chemical examination of the stomach fluid obtained
after a test breakfast, which includes not simply the application of a few color
92
reagents, but a determination of the exact amount and quality of the digestive
work done by the stomach, thus ascertaining any excess or deficiency and its
amount, and thereby obtaining data which may form the basis of an exact
diagnosis of the condition of the stomach processes, and a rational prescription.41
The resultant prescription required feeding the patient a concoction of granose (wheat
flakes), salt, and water. After one hour the stomach would be pumped through a tube
(figure 26) and the mush brought into the laboratory for chemical analysis (figure 27).
F I G . 41.— S T O M A C H - T U B E .
Figure 26. Stomach Tube, 1896. The tube replaced other methods of examining the contents of the
stomach, including sponges and induced vomiting. (Image reproduced from Kellogg, 1896: p. 321.)
41
Calhoun Co., 1901: p. 79.
93
University Department of Archives and Special Collections.)
Kellogg was committed to intervening in the treatment process for each patient. He
"personally examines every patient who enters the institution, these examinations being
of the most searching character."42 Foucault's archeological method, his "effective
history of the present," demonstrated that the naturalization of healthy versus unhealthy
bodies required a medical practitioner who "gaze[d] into the deeper recesses of that
body." ' Kellogg's stomach tube implement facilitated deep gazing. Kellogg was right
in recognizing that the way people digest food differed greatly from individual to
individual. How to assess the quality of each person's digestion, then, came under the
eye of the almighty gaze of the physician and laboratory chemist. Kellogg used the
42
A Health Resort. 1894. The Sunday Inter Ocean 23 (134).
Chris Philo. 2000. The Birth of the Clinic: An unknown work of medical geography. Area 32 (1):12.
94
concepts of precision and experimentation as ways to demonstrate rationality. He
claimed that "confidence in the value of the methods of precision of investigating the
morbid chemical processes which accompany indigestion" was the way to diagnose. He
was concerned with finding data that "may be secured upon which to base a rational
mode of treatment in each individual case." Precise, individualized treatment, then, was
the symbol of an advanced form of rationalized medical practice. There was not a single
set program of cure, but rather a toolbox of dietetic and exercise cures, tailored for each
individual patient.44
Strategies employed at the Battle Creek Sanitarium merged various new
discourses, shaping the patient's experience of his or her own health. While Kellogg's
hygienic philosophy grounded individualized treatments in the familiar context of
hydrotherapy, his adaptation to the expanding language of modern bacteriology and
nutritional science legitimized spa practices for an increasingly expectant contemporary
audience. His systematic diagnostic and treatment methods exalted scientific method and
apparatuses, externalizing the human body's digestive processes and sanitizing their
presumed vulgarities, thereby requiring the sanitarium to rapidly adopt new
infrastructural technologies in order to contend with the food and human waste, those
toxic compounds that were at the center of all these rationalized activities.
44
This paragraph draws information from John Kellogg. 1896. "Methods of Precision in the Investigation
of Disorders of Digestion." Battle Creek: Modern Medicine Pub. Co.; pp. 2-3.
95
Chapter 4: Hydrology and the Urban Landscape
In Kellogg's taxonomy of the body's "food laboratories," he compared the mouth
to a mill, the liver to a refinery, and the colon to a waste disposal system.1 His
metaphorical bridging between the digestive system and the urban manufacturing
landscape was direct. Such comparisons hearkened to the significant urban infrastructure
changes occurring in late nineteenth-century America. Cities were developing new
sewerages, underground (hidden) pipes not unlike the piping of the intestines inside the
body. As the innards of the body faced scrutiny by John Kellogg, the innards of cities
also received heightened attention as a matter of public health in order to treat diseases
such as cholera and typhoid fever. The flushing of waste and the movement of water
through the city was a macrocosm for the movement of food, water, and waste through
the body. In each case, stagnation was assumed to be deleterious. Food had its curative
benefits, but if it stopped moving it had the power to harm, both in the guts and in the
pipes of the city.2
As has been established, the extension of the digestive system informed the
sanitarium's design and treatment methods, but it also extended beyond the campus to the
municipality. The impact of food did not terminate at some finite point, certainly not at
consumption, ingestion, or even digestion. To fully understand the geographical
John Kellogg. 1918. The Itinerary of a Breakfast' A popular account of the travels of a breakfast through
the food tube and of the ten gates and several stations through which it passes, also of the obstacles which
it sometimes meets. New York Funk & Wagnalls Company; pp. 18-22
" See Simon Marvin and Will Medd 2006. Metabolisms of obecity. flows of tat through bodies, cities, and
sewers Environment and Planning A 38.313-324.
96
implications of eating, one must consider the city of Battle Creek, and especially its
systems of public works technologies. As much as eating the right foods, developing the
right urban infrastructure was part of the health revolution in Battle Creek. Although
directed at excrement from the end of the digestive tract, it was no less rooted in the
language of science and technology. This chapter moves from the scale of the sanitarium
building to that of the city (figure 28).
Historian Martin Melosi considered it a given that "municipal engineers became
central figures in the efforts to manage - if not protect - the environment in the late
nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American city." This emergent profession
Martin V. Melosi. 2000. The Sanitary City: Urban infrastructure in America from colonial times to the
present. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press; pp. 114-115.
97
required a sort of modern Renaissance Man because it demanded knowledge about public
hygiene, biology, chemistry, physics, education, and physiology, not to mention
engineering. In the sense that they possessed a broad conceptualization of how systems
were interrelated, municipal engineers became the first urban ecologists. On the national
level, this early form of urban ecology developed as a landscape-health issue, with the
conception and implementation of infrastructure as it cure. At the same time that the
revolution in digestion was underway at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, a sewerage
revolution was taking shape just below the surface of the surrounding city.
David Nye has described landscapes as "part of the infrastructure of existence,"
inseparably connected to technological developments "that people have used to shape
land and their vision."4 In Nye's account, technologies and the resultant landscapes they
help create cannot be separated from inhabited places. People exist in a world that is
materially constructed with tools, machines, technologies, which form "the infrastructure
of existence." If one extended that infrastructure, however, not only to inhabited places,
but also to human bodies, one may re-conceptualize notions of landscape and scale.
Understanding that the very term landscape has an etymology connected with secular and
technological re-making of the world - not the sublime - tells us that even in the most
vernacular scenes we can read human history as much as natural history. The tools used
to shape landforms and cityscapes are the same tools that shape our bodies.
4
David Nye, ed 1999 Technologies of Landscape From reaping to recycling Amherst University of
Massachusetts Press, p 3
1
Denis E Cosgrove 1998. Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape. 2nd ed Madison University ol
Wisconsin Press
98
The digestive system's role as a crucial node in how the themes of "circulation"
and "sink" played out in Battle Creek's fresh and waste water systems provides an
effective means by which to conceive the human body as part of this existential
infrastructure. In this regard, Matthew Gandy's use of cyborgs suggests a paradigm for
considering the effects of the technological mediation between humans and other forms
of matter.
The material interface between the body and the city is perhaps most strikingly
manifested in the physical infrastructure that links the human body to vast
technological networks.... The modern home, for example, has become a
complex exoskeleton for the human body with a provision of water, warmth, light
and other essential needs. The home can be conceived as a 'prosthesis and
prophylactic' in which modernist distinctions between nature and culture, and
between the organic and the inorganic, become blurred.6
While cyborgs may seem vast afield from the Battle Creek Sanitarium, Kellogg's
hygienic philosophy certainly blurred the distinction between organic and inorganic,
human and machine. His programs (while not explicitly stated by Gandy) also extended
body-technology connections further out into the landscape, asking us to question
distinctions between body and environment.
Clarifying what belongs in the categories of bodies and machines - organic and
inorganic - is part of a larger, longer-standing geographical concern that interrogates the
distinction between nature and culture. Envisioning and writing a new ontology that
eschews the traditional humanist dualism of subject / object has been the philosophical
thrust of much research in environmental geography over the past twenty years.
' Matthew Gandy. 2005. Cyborg Urbanization: Complexity and monstrosity in the contemporary city.
International Journal of Urban & Regional Research 29 (1):28.
99
Describing how the material world constantly re-emerges as "socio-nature hybrids," or
"assemblages," or "relations," or "actor-networks" has been a sustained effort to
substantiate the claim that there are not objects in the world that exist on their own,
outside of politics, other people, or objects.7 Gandy has gone the farthest in explicitly
applying this language to bodies, treating them as hybrid objects that -just like any other
hybrid - cannot exist outside of their connections and relationships to other things. The
city, therefore, becomes not just a handy example of corporeal socio-nature hybrids, but a
profound place where these relationships happen at hyper-frequency. Of the baffling
array of terms that are proffered forth to name the collection of relationships describing a
hybrid object, Deleuze and Guattari's agencement - the concepts behind Latour's
Q
"actant" - seems the most germane here. Anderson and Braun have fully elucidated the
term, challenging its frequent English translation as assemblage, and emphasizing that
"agencement relates and combines two different ideas in a clever wordplay: the idea of a
layout or a coming together of disparate elements, and the idea of agency or the capacity
to cause effects."9
Late nineteenth-century Battle Creek presented a merging of disparate machines,
technologies, and infrastructures that significantly affected the biology of sanitarium
Jonathan Murdoch 1997 Towards a geography of heterogeneous associations Progress in Human
Geography 21 (3) 321-337 , Erik Swyngedouw 2009 Circulations and Metabolisms (Hybrid) natures and
(cyborg) cities In Technonatures Environments, technologies, spaces and places in the twenty-first
century, edited by C Wilbert and D F White Waterloo Wilfrid Launer University Press
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattan 1987. A Thousand Plateaus Capitalism and schizophrenia Translated
by B Massumi Minneapolis University of Minnesota Press
Kay Anderson and Bruce Braun. 2008 Introduction In Environment' Critical essays in human
geography, edited by K Anderson and B Braun. Burlington, VT Ashgate, p xv
100
patients. The human digestive system neither did nor does exist in a bubble, but rather
forms a concrete part of the landscape. Not really the cloistered tube that Kellogg
charted, it was part of an assemblage that existed in a space larger than the territory
occupied by any one of the things, or "actants" in it. Such reasoning suggests that one
could read into the meaning, shape, or even characteristics of bodies by studying the
other landscapes and machines in the assemblage. Likewise, one could interpret
technologies by studying the digestive system, asking it "to speak," to complicate what
one normally considers a simple biologic fact and force it to convey more about the urban
infrastructure in which it was embedded.
In their research on suburban lawnscapes, Robbins and Sharp inquire about how
"turfgrass subjects" are created.1 They ask how it is that people are still willing to create
these suburban ecosystems given that the ever-increasing amount of land under the cover
of mono-cropped lawns require a vast amount of toxic chemicals to maintain them.
Using Althusser's notion of "hailing," they question, "Who calls to the lawn chemical
user so that they consistently respond as lawn tenders?" and respond "the lawn itself."11
Grass in these suburban ecosystems cannot exist as it does without an assemblage of
things - biological, technological, infrastructural, economic - that communicate with and
influence each other. Yes, people choose to apply fertilizers and herbicides to their
properties, but this choice is tempered by influences from neighbors, chemical
Paul Robbins and Julie Sharp. 2006. Turfgrass Subjects:The political economy of urban monoculture. In
In the Nature of Cities: Urban political ecology and the politics of urban metabolism, edited by N. C.
Heynen, M. Kaika and E. Swyngedouw. New York: Routledge.
11
Robbins and Sharp, 2006: p. 121.
101
companies, and local quasi-governments. In this sense - predicated on Althusser's
insight - the meaning of "subject" is one who simultaneously acts freely and submits to a
higher authority. When it is said that the lawn calls people to act, it means that when the
grass is misbehaving or not fitting the norms established by these groups, the homeowner
must correct it, often with the application of chemical products or gas-powered lawn
mowers. He or she is volunteering, responding to the "hail" of the grass.
This story about lawns is helpful because it reveals a mechanism for
understanding the relationship of Battle Creek's infrastructure and the sanitarium guests'
digestive systems. Understanding the digestive system means listening to its hails.
"Listening" to it, or to be less poetic, responding to its needs, in the 1890s meant the
development and application of technologies - namely water works and sewerage
infrastructure. Stopping the spread of fecal-oral diseases such as cholera, dysentery, and
typhoid fever in the late nineteenth century was a matter of responding to the hail of the
digestive system:
As long as the soil pollution goes on, so long the danger exists. Once introduce
[sic] the germs of cholera or typhoid into our vaults and cess-pits, and the
multiplication of the dangerous ferment may go on rapidly and indefinitely. If,
then, there be any oozing from these sources of filth into the subsoil water these
microscopic organisms will almost certainly find their way, sooner or later, into
the drinking-water, and as certainly cause sickness and death.12
Such warnings by Erwin Smith, an early bacteriologist with the Michigan State
Board of Health, were an increasingly common plea in the waning decades of the
nineteenth century. The needs of the digestive system required a safe place where it
102
could be evacuated without reintroducing pathogens into municipal waterways, thereby
infecting others along the circuit. This typical account - an awareness that fresh water,
soil, and waste water interacted together in a system - negated the body's critical role.
The body, instead, was addressed as the object of sickness, the circuit's terminus. Even
as late as 1925, incorporating the body into the circulation of water and human excrement
remained a vague implication (figure 29).
CBAViLa
• "Ail-
Fin-. i
Kiuiure I ohows the po&bibilitiea of filth from the privy, barn,
•url o:iier sources rtaoluiifr the well over the surface or through
pnrous ground. It umphasizes the importance of tixtrenie care
ia locating a privy and w e l l se as to avoid such contamination.
Even wells drilled in ledge rook are in danger of pollution
throusjh fissures and ieatna from leaky sowers, privy vault*,
•if! i ll'S^ptj.'ji-j.
Figure 29. This cross section of a subterranean farmstead shows the dangers of the proximity of the privy
to the well, but people - as represented in anatomical diagrams, for example - are absent. (Image
reproduced from Rich, Edward D. 1925. The Sanitary Privy. Michigan Department of Health, Engineering
Bulletin No. 8: p. 4. Courtesy of the Michigan History Center, Library of Michigan, Lansing.)
" Erwin F. Smith. 1885. Sewerage and Water-Supply: Discussion at a sanitary convention held at Lansing,
Mich. Reprinted from a supplement to the Annual Report of the Michigan State Board of Health Reprint
No. 231:105.
103
As has been discussed in chapter 3, Kellogg imagined the digestive system as a multigated path comprised of five internal organs, whose functions he increasingly sought to
externalize via the Battle Creek Sanitarium's interventions. But Kellogg also radically
complicated contemporary notions - particularly those espoused by Michigan's Board of
Health - of the body as the endpoint, a monadic unit of the disease cycle. He did so with
a conception of the body as a tube that was connected with the outside world, a place
through which water, food, and disease were transformed, and circulated. While never
explicitly saying it, he - with the help of people like Bouchard and Liebig - was making
a case for incorporating the body into Nye's "infrastructure of existence.'' The digestive
system itself would be better off if it were the feeding end, or the head, of an urban
network of water-carriage sewerage.
In fact, Kellogg was poised to make the transition from an environmental to a
bacteriological etiology of disease. While this transition has often described as one that
sloughed an ecological perspective on health in exchange for close, laboratory
1^
examinations of the "Petri dish," Kellogg was in a unique position to keep an ecological
perspective on urban infrastructure because of his peculiar position as both a highlytrained gastroenterologist and an advisor to sanitary engineers at the Michigan State
Board of Health. His understanding of the body, and especially the part of the body of
most concern to water and sewer works engineers, far exceeded that of most of his
colleagues on the state's Board of Health. That understanding was a conception of the
1
Dawn D. Biehler. 2010. Flies, Manure, and Window Screens: Medical entomology and environmental
reform in early-twentieth-century US cities. Journal of Historical Geography 36:68-78.
104
body not as the endpoint of the cycle, but as the center of circulation of food and water as
it moved around and around the landscape. The rise of bacteriology through the 1880s
and 1890s meant envisioning the landscape differently. In particular, it required a vision
that separated body and surrounding landscape, confining the body to its epidermal
borders, rendering the environment separate and dangerous. Bacteriology ushered in a
new microscopic, urbanized body as it revolutionized concepts of human health.
Conceiving the bacteriological body relied as much on microorganisms as it did on a new
way of imagining the body's environment. The environment as an etiological agent in
itself - the set of humoral elements - was replaced by the urban infrastructure of sanitary
cities. The extensibility of bodies still stretched into space, but its assemblages were
being remade. For sanitary engineers, the new public health had a new nature: urban
infrastructure.
By the Civil War it was widely believed that running water in and of itself had
purifying characteristics, a belief that was applied to urban public works projects such as
the construction of sewers and flushing toilets.
Common knowledge dictated that
sanitation was achieved by transporting waste through progressively larger water systems
such as streams, rivers, and oceans, dispersing and washing it away. This belief formed
the basis of professional knowledge. In a response to complaints from residents in
Indianapolis about emptying sewage into a local creek, for example, city civil engineer
C.T. Chandler said "I should not hesitate for a moment to allow these 150 houses to be
Jamie Bemdickson 2007 The Culture of Flushing'A social and legal history of sewage Vancouver
UBC Press, p 4.
105
connected with the drain which has to discharge into the stream that runs through the
city.... Sewage diluted with twenty time its volume of water and running a distance of ten
to twelve miles, will be destroyed."15 The understanding of drinking water at the
sanitarium as a means of creating a clean and healthy body emerged under the same
principle. Seeing the body as a set of pipes through which there should be continuous
circulation, thereby "diluting the blood" and "encouraging the elimination of the toxins,"
meant that the body could be subjected to new notions of sanitation and purity.1 Earlier
in the nineteenth century, reading landscapes for human health had relied on balancing
elements of nature with elements of the body. Each had to circulate in the right
proportions and in congruence with one another. For centuries there was a consciousness
of the material connection between humans and the environment, as manifested in
doctrines such as the humoral system and the "non-naturals," each of which accounted
for the flow of different matter-types through the body. The elemental foci of wind,
moisture, temperature, and soil were replaced in the late nineteenth century by reservoirs,
standpipes, taps, and mains. Rational digestion needed a rational landscape that could
remove and "sink" poisonous wastes.
1
C.T Chandler. 1893. Pollution of Streams by Sewage. Paving and Municipal Engineering' A monthly
magazine devoted to the improvement of cities 4 (1):33.
16
John Kellogg. 1901. Rational Hydrotherapy: A manual of the physiological and therapeutic effects of
hydriatic prodedures, and the technique of their application in the treatment of disease. Philadelphia. F.A
Davis Co.; p. 318.
106
An interrogation of sinks, "those environmental zones that receive, absorb, and
contain wastes," proves beneficial, as there are three sinks in this story.17 The first is the
soil surrounding all the thousands of vaults and cesspools in the city and countryside; the
second, the endpoint of the sewer pipes, which in the case of Battle Creek was the
Kalamazoo River; and the third is the body, where the undesirable disease pathogen
settled and caused illness, whether conceptualized through the miasmatic or
bacteriological vision of disease. Water's ability to connect body and city, "the visible
and invisible dimensions to urban space"1 resonated in Battle Creek, but John Kellogg's
hygienic philosophy complicated what was meant by the body. Kellogg's penetrating
(both instrumentally and chemically) knowledge of the digestive system brought a more
acute vision of how exactly the body was connected with its surroundings. Knowing how
food worked inside the body, as well as the geography of what happened to food postconsumption, positioned Kellogg to see the "connectivity" at finer-grained detail.
Between 1879-1891 Kellogg recurrently chaired the Michigan State Board of
Health's "committee on disposal of excreta and decomposing organic matter " ! To this
committee he brought not only an expertise of the body's interior complexities, but he
was able to perceive the body as a fluid part of the environment, or perhaps, as a
17
H Daly and J Farley. 2003 Ecological Economics Washington, D C Island Press, p 439 From
Jennifer Gabrys 2009 Sink The dirt of systems Environment and Planning D' Society and Space 27 666
IX
Matthew Gandy 2004. Rethinking Urban Metabolism Water, space and the modern city C/7Y8 373
John Kellogg 1879 Sanitary Associations Seventh Annual Report of the Michigan State Board of
Health 83-95 , Nineteenth Annual Report of the Secretary of the State Board of Health of the State of
Michigan for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1891 Lansing Robert Smith Printing Co , State Printers and
Binders Published in 1894
107
component of the existential infrastructure. Kellogg was a major proponent of the sewers
at a time when water-carriage sewer systems were not widespread. He was appalled with
the privy-system, calling them the "most abominable nuisances" and "dangerous to
public health.... The fetid, pungent odors which are poured upon the air by such a hotbed of disease, carry with them the cause of much of the illness with which most
communities are visited during the Summer and Autumn."20
In 1890 the population of Battle Creek was around 15,000 people. Kellogg's
success in making digestive systems that could thoroughly and systematically flush their
contents meant that all that waste had to go somewhere. Sanitary engineers as well as
bacteriologists were sweeping through comparably-sized American cities, preaching the
perils that would befall these rapidly growing and industrializing cities if their residents
did not follow the suit of larger cities and implement sewage infrastructure. Indeed,
Battle Creek was the fastest growing city in Michigan, home of farm machinery, steam
pump, publishing, and flour milling industries, not to mention its nascent health food
~y i
industry." Arnold Clark, a writer associated with the Michigan State Board of Health,
board cautioned that
a little village may get along for a time without any special system for the
disposal of its waste, but as it becomes more thickly populated, as its soil becomes
saturated with wells and vaults, its death-rate naturally begins to increase. . A
20
Kellogg, 1879. p 92
Larry B Massie and Peter J Schmitt. 1984 Battle Creek The place behind the products Woodland
Hills, CA Windsor Publications, p 79.
108
public water-supply and a sewerage system for the disposal of its waste seem to
me just as much the business of a city of this size as the lighting of its streets."
He proceeded to ask the Battle Creek citizenry what kind of municipality they
wanted to construct, for, according to him there was a direct correlation between the
infrastructure of the city's waste management system and the percentage of the
population that would die of typhoid fever and other diseases. Storing human excreta in
cement-lined vaults was the most widespread device used in Battle Creek, much to the
dismay of Clark, who called them "relics of barbarism."
Even though in 1890 there
were about thirteen miles of water mains in Battle Creek, many people still used wells for
drinking water, and around five thousand vaults were in use throughout the city for
human waste disposal. The proximity of vaults to wells was the problem, as the
movement of "the germs of typhoid fever" from the vault to the well was believed to be
unavoidable over time. Advice from the sanitarium's publication Good Health offered
similar advice, though from the perspective of the housekeeper, not that of the engineer:
"Water from a well or cistern which receives the drainage from a vault, cess-pool or barn94
yard, should not be used for drinking or cooking purposes."
Cement was not
considered a suitable privy lining, for "wastes often leached (deliberately and
" Arnold A. Clark. 1890. The Sewerage and Drainage of Battle Creek. Report of Proceedings of the
Sanitary Convention at Battle Creek: Supplement to the Annual Report of the State Board of Health,
Reprint No. 311; p. 37.
21
Clark, 1890: p. 37.
24
"Good Health: A journal of hygiene." Feb 1887. Battle Creek, MI. Vol. 22, No. 2.
109
accidentally) into the surrounding soil.... The land thus became the primary sink for both
9S
wastewater and for human wastes."
The 1890s witnessed the urban infrastructural manifestations of the
epistemological sea change surrounding disease that Tarr, Melosi, and Nash so
eloquently described, and Battle Creek was no exception.26 Like the discourse
surrounding the roles of bacteria and putrefaction in the intestinal canals as it was
manifested in the Battle Creek Sanitarium, almost every public health document from the
decade includes a confused blending of etiological explanations comparable to the
"Humor Germs" previously discussed. Both Kellogg and the sanitary engineers straddled
two different ways of thinking about how disease spread, whether through the urban
environment or the microcosmic environment of the body. Simply stated, these two
perspectives were the miasmatic (or environmental, or filth) and the bacteriological (or
germ) theories of disease. He imbricated the two perspectives in 1891 - "no foul,
noxious odor can possibly be conducive to health, ... [and] wells should be nearly as far
removed from such sources of poisoning, to insure against water contamination, which is
one of the most common causes of typhoid fever"27 - as he had a decade earlier:
"Noxious gases and disease-germs are usually associated together: a fortunate fact, as it
^ Joel A Tarr 1984 The Search for the Ultimate Sink Urban air, land, and water pollution in historical
perspective Records of the Columbia Historical Society 51.1-29, p 3
' Joel A Tarr 1996 The Search for the Ultimate Sink Urban pollution in historical perspective Akron,
OH University of Akron Press., Melosi, 2000.; Linda Nash 2006 Inescapable Ecologies' A history of
environment, disease, and knowledge Berkeley University of California Press
27
John Kellogg 1891 The Household Monitor of Health Battle Creek, MI Good Health Publishing Co ,
p 59
110
enables us to detect the dangerous character of an infected atmosphere without the
trouble of a chemical analysis."
Benthamite Englishman Edwin Chadwick popularized miasmatic theory in the
1840s. Without the insights of bacteriology available to him, he proselytized his public
health concerns that were grounded in panthophobia. Martin Melosi describes the
resultant miasmatic theory of disease.
Because disease was understood to arise from putrefying organic wastes, bad
smells (miasmas), and sewer gases - and could not be transmitted from person to
person - the filth theory is described as anticontagionist. Many of the diseases
these early sanitarians confronted were intestinal, thus environmental sanitation
29
was credited with substantial success.
Such causal links between environmental sanitation and healthy intestines were derived
from writings of Justus von Liebig. In the 1840s this German chemist, who was admired
by Chadwick, developed the idea of putrefaction (organic decay) as "the quintessential
pathological process."30 Subsequent pathologists constantly speculated on exactly how
and when decaying organic matter entered into its pathological mode so they would know
when it became a threat.31
Since there was no clear answer, water-carriage sewer systems that immediately
swept away waste were adopted as the engineer's alternative to a landscape full of
John Kellogg. 1882. Decomposing Organic Matter. Paper read before the Sanitary Convention,
Michigan State Board of Health; p. 226.
29
Melosi, 2000: p. 47.
Justus von Liebig. 1848. Researches on the Chemistry of Food, and the Motion of the Juices in the
Animal Body. Lowell, MA: Daniel Bixby.
11
Melosi, 2000: pp. 441-442.
Ill
cesspools.
Water-carriage sewers were constructed as early as the 1850s in major
cities, but continued to be built in smaller cities throughout the country up into the early
twentieth century. Sewers relied on a fresh water infrastructure that in most cities had
been implemented at least twenty to thirty years prior to the sewerage systems. The
existence of the fresh water systems was important because they supplied the carrying
agent for the waste. "Wastes were carried through a system of pipes to a place of
disposal outside the immediate locale," replacing privy vaults and cesspools.33 While
still long before waste water treatment, this late-century solution moved sewage from
cities to rivers, lakes, or simply further out in the countryside, and it was a solution that
would persevere until the early twentieth century, when chlorine and filtration were
introduced on a regular basis.
According to the sanitarians and the miasma theory of disease, sinks were
especially harmful when they were too close to people. Moving and diffusing decaying
organic matter by water-carriage systems, both constructed (sewers) and natural (rivers),
meant that bodies, and the entire digestive system, were thought to be removed from the
circulation of food and water. In one end, out the other, no circulation. The aim of
sanitary engineers was to completely separate the places from which food and water
emerged and the places where food and water went after having been transported
through the ten-meter tube. If the digestive system were speaking, it would be saying
"save me the pain of disease by separating me from my excretions. Build me an
12
Benedickson, 2007: p. 110.
11
Tarr, 1984: p. 6.
112
underground sewer system." It is in this sense that, as Gandy put it, the material interface
between the body and the city was manifested, and as Robbins and Sharp might put it, the
digestive system hailed the engineers to alter the urban landscape.
As suggested above, the implementations of water and sewage infrastructures in
the United States is not a story of co-development. In the 1840s - before sewer pipes
were installed in even the largest American cities - pipes carrying fresh water into the
city coursed through many cities, fed by local streams, lakes, and rivers. Waste produced
from this water, as well as human excrement, were most commonly disposed of in
privies, outdoor water closets, or dry earth closets, all of which resulted in collections of
waste in the form of the nefarious cesspools. The logic behind this form of disposal was
that the land or soil served as a filtration system that cleansed water before it reached the
well pump or before it circulated back into the stream, lake, or river. Popular belief in the
power of the soil to filter out anything bad was difficult to overcome for the promoters of
the emerging bacteriological vision. Strong public support for the construction of
sewerage systems lagged behind the bacteriological evidence that proved their necessity,
though sanitarians were largely successful in convincing city governments to build sewer
systems with the miasma theory. A common objection to expensive city government
sewerage projects was the prevalent belief that "the soil is a barrier through which filth
cannot pass."34 This led to complacency associated with the vault solution, even as rapid
city growth and the use of water closets caused them to overflow and soak the low-lying
34
Smith, 1885: pp. 104-106.
113
lands.
Sanitarians throughout the second half of the nineteenth century decried this
style of wastewater management, maintaining an "environmental" etiology that posited
the source of the problem in putrefying organic matter and disease-carrying miasmas, the
home of which was cesspools. 6
All of this infrastructural meddling impacted the way the digestive system
worked. From urban planning precedents in Europe, it was widely known that without
sewers the death rates from what we now categorize as fecal-oral diseases such as
cholera, typhoid fever, and dysentery, were much higher. In the pleas of one Battle
Creek planner to create a less "barbaric" sanitation system, for example, Clark made
repeated reference to European systems of sanitation, focusing on statistics from Munich
and parts of France (figure 30).
11
Tarr, 1996: p. 115.
%
Tarr, 1984: p. 5.
114
TYPHOIQTEYERVSEWERa
• • • • A i f e i i l i r S WITHOUT.
AVERAGE.39 CITIES WITH, -
MUNICH.
.M.A
Rn
11854-5%
1860-65,
ICEyENT VAULTS.
[I866-73,PARTSWRS.
II87«0,SEWERSCOI013.
I88I-84.SEWERS CONTINUED.
:
Figure 30. The reduction of typhoid fever in Munich, Germany with the introduction of cement-lined
vaults, then sewers, between 1854-1884. (Image reproduced from Clark, 1890. Courtesy of the Michigan
History Center, Library of Michigan, Lansing.)
These places served as precedent and proof that diseases were mitigated by the
implementation of a sanitary sewer system.
His rhetoric may have been more compelling had he incorporated the body into
the story of the circulation of excrement- and water-borne disease, rather than treating the
body as an implied endpoint, or object of disease. Warnings based on explicit
descriptions of how digestive systems were materially altered in the absence of a city
sewer system may have proved quite effective. Hiring the famous cholera bacteriologist
Robert Koch would have aided this cause. The claim of this chapter is that urban
infrastructural changes impacted the way the digestive system worked, as they were both
part of the same assemblage of digestion. To glimpse into the intestines as they appeared
without the benefit of a properly functioning sewer system, we look to the work of
115
pioneering bacteriologist Robert Koch, who in 1884 described his autopsies of cholera
victims. In his initial autopsies, Koch did not expect to find anything special in the
intestines of cholera victims' corpses, but soon found that "profound and striking
-in
intestinal changes" were the norm.
Koch began dissecting intestines because he could
not find any infectious bacilli, as he had found in his tuberculosis research just two years
prior, in the blood of these bodies. Focusing on changes in the intestines led him to
realize that the cholera bacteria came from, and affected most strongly, the digestive
system. The content of the intestine was "a bloody purulent stinking fluid," surrounded
by a "necrotic" mucous membrane "permeated with superficial hemorrhages," filled with
"diphtheria-like deposits, swollen with redness and capillary bleeding." While the means
of transmission of cholera, typhoid fever, and other fecal-oral diseases was becoming
more clear with Koch's and Pasteur's bacteriological vision, explanations between
bacteriology and miasmatic theory were still debated, and often paradoxically accepted
for decades after Koch published his findings. In either case, reformers agreed that the
solution to reforming the intestines of a growing number of urban dwellers to a healthy
state meant the implementation of sewerage. The quality of the concealed organs inside
the body depended on the shape of the unexposed underground of the city.
It is unclear exactly when Battle Creek finished constructing its sewer system,
though the earliest applications for sewer taps date from 1892.38 Provisions from the
v
Robert Koch. 1987. Essays of Robert Koch. Translated by C. Carter. New York: Greenwood Press.
"Lecture at the First Conference for Discussion of the Cholera Question" was first published in 1884. For
this paragraph I reference pp. 151-153.
w
Battle Creek Department of Public Works, Records Division. Battle Creek, Mich. Sewer tap
applications accessed by the author in May 2009.
116
1891 City Charter outline general guidelines for the development of sewerage, implying
that by then contractors had begun to lay the pipes, or were preparing to do so.
Assuming that 1892 marks the first availability of a public underground sewer, then there
was only a five year gap between the availability of city-supplied fresh water (1887) and
its coordinated disposal. By 1892, fresh water extracted from Goguac Lake began to be
used to transport concentrated waste into the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek Rivers.
This
dating makes sense because the nearby smaller town of Coldwater, Michigan did not
begin to advertise for a sanitary sewer system until 1904.41 Due to cost prohibitions,
towns would generally hold off as long as possible before adding sewers, until the
population density was high enough to engorge the landscape with waste. Coldwater's
Board of Public Works called for proposals to provide labor and materials to construct
thousands of feet of pipe sewer, and a "comparatively new" sewerage purification plant.
The desire for a purification plant is indicative of the early twentieth-century trend to not
only dispose of waste water as it exited the city, but to purify the fresh water as it entered.
An 1887 sanitarium publication reported that its annual consumption of water was
ten million gallons.42 This included water used for all combined hydrotherapeutic
procedures. If there were 250 guests at any one time, then on average each one of them
Charter of the City of Battle Creek, Michigan. 1891. Published by the Order of the Common Council.
Battle Creek, MI: Gage & Sons; pp. 28-29.
Personal communication. May 2009. Charles "Ken" Kohs, Utilities Director, Battle Creek Department ol
Public Works.
First Annual Report of the Board of Public Works of the City of Coldwater, Michigan, for the Year
Ending March 31, 1904.
42
"Good Health: A journal of hygiene." Jan 1887. Battle Creek, MI. Vol. 22, No. 1; p. 31.
117
consumed 110 gallons of water per day in the course of getting well. While the quantity
of water coming in was not a matter of concern at this point, the quality of water going
out was becoming a major matter of concern, not only in Battle Creek, but in towns and
cities across the U.S. and Europe. As mandated by the City Charter,43 all of the
sanitarium's fresh water came from Goguac Lake, about two miles southwest of the city
limits (figure 31).
1
'
I S< i?
W.
A U.r.***
I>
• " ' ( • " I n
*
Ml
•*•"
Figure 31. Location of Goguac Lake relative to the city of Battle Creek, 1894. The sanitarium owned a
lakeside resort and pavilion here. It was also the source of all their fresh water. (Map reproduced from
Illustrated Atlas and Directory of Free Holders of Calhoun County, Michigan. 1894. Fort Wayne, IN: Atlas
Publishing Company. Courtesy of the Michigan State University Map Library.)
Charter, 1891: pp. 30-31.
118
Goguac Lake was a popular resort and recreation area, and was largely visited
by sanitarium guests who were transported by rail to the scenic locale, where they
could requisition rowboats for leisure or fishing. The sanitarium also owned a villa
overlooking the lake (figure 32), where guests could dine plein air, accommodated by
a "broad piazza."44
Figure 32. View of Goguac Lake from the sanitarium's villa grounds, 1892. (Image reproduced from
"Where to Spend the Summer." 1892. The Bacteriological World and Modern Medicine 1 (8):283.
Courtesy of the Darling Biomedical Library Special Collections, UCLA.)
By 1900 the sanitarium had acquired several nearby farms totaling about 400 acres
which "provided the sanitarium with a constant supply of milk products, eggs, fruits,
and vegetables," and by 1896 Kellogg had authorized the construction of a canning
plant for processing "the output of the sanitarium farms."45
44
"A Health Resort," 1894.
Richard W. Schwarz. 1965. John Harvey Kellogg: American health reformer. Dissertation, History,
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; p. 184.
119
At the same time that sanitarium patients were being transported off for multi-day
stays at the nearby lake villa, the very water they were paddling around in was being
pulled up and out with a steam engine pump, then falling 200 feet over two miles as it
moved to the northeast, ending up in all matters of hydrotherapy, including the colonic
machine. In 1887 a Chicago-based engineering firm completed a water piping system
that connected the fresh water of Goguac Lake to the city of Battle Creek.46 The role of
sanitary engineers in this period was immensely important, and their reputation as people
who understood "hygienic sanitation" as well as leaders in the bacteriological revolution
was growing:
The new profession was unique because it represented the only group who
possessed a relatively broad knowledge of the urban ecosystem at the time.
Sanitary engineers had a grasp of engineering expertise as well as current public
health theory and practices.47
At the Goguac Lake steam-powered pumping station (figure 33), a standpipe eighteen
feet in diameter and with a 143 thousand gallon capacity rested at an elevation at least
200 feet above the city center, offering a gravity-fed network of fresh water through
fifteen miles of water mains.48
46
Hugh E. McKelve. ca. 1995. Some History of Beautiful Goguac Lake. Manuscript held at the Willard
Library, Helen Warner Branch. Battle Creek, Mich.: p. 1.
47
Melosi, 2000: p. 115.
4X
"Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory." 1893-4. Volume XI. Detroit: R.L. Polk & Co.; p.
248.
120
Printers; p. 89.)
In his memoir Hugh McKelvey describes the pumping station:
I remember the big suction pipes.... There were two, probably at least 24 inches
diameter, and extending perhaps 600 feet into the lake from the shore line. There
were some concrete pedestals supporting them underwater along the way.... We
[went] into the pumping station and marveled about the huge coal furnaces used
to heat the boilers which made the steam which powered the steam engines which
drew in those gushing streams of water.
The gushing streams of water coming out of Goguac Lake would enter into a symbolic
realm unlike that of most other places in the late nineteenth century that had similar
plumbing networks. This water made possible the ultra-modern, hydro-scientific bathing
regimens at the sanitarium (figure 34).
McKelvey, ca. 1995: pp. 3-4.
121
Figure 34. Stainless steel whirlpool bath, ca. 1900. (Image courtesy of Loma Linda University,
Department of Archives and Special Collections.)
Tapping into piped water changed the entire cartography of digestion. The colonic
machine (figure 35) was the mechanical apparatus by which this cartography changed,
connecting the tubes of the digestive system with the pipes of the water works and
sewerage of the urban landscape.
122
Figure 35. Back of the colonic (enema) machine that was illustrated in chapter 2 (figure 12, p. 51). The
pipe in the center of this picture brought water in from Goguac Lake via the urban fresh water infrastructure
that was built in this era, connecting intestines to the landscape. After cleansing the lower intestines, the
water was sent out the black pipe below the white one, into the sewer system. (Photo by author, May 2009
at the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Center, Battle Creek, Mich.)
The colonic machine worked by introducing three pints of cool water into the colon with
a long rectal tube, after which patients were instructed to hold in the water for ten
minutes.50 After that the water was released into the machine, through which it drained
via the black pipe back into the sewer infrastructure. The water that coursed through the
colon and lower intestine and purged the stresses of urbanization and industrialization
was the same water used to carry away solid waste and disease. Colonic machine therapy
materially connected patients' bodies with the lake, the steam engines, the stand pipe, the
faucet, then back through the pipes to the sewer system, and into the Kalamazoo River.
"'Kellogg, 1901: p. 891.
123
The digestive tract was this entire system's sin qua non, the promoter or "hailer" for
building the underground of the city, and connecting bodies to the surrounding landscape.
What was meant to be a universally applicable, scientifically calculated cleansing
procedure, capable of being administered any place, was in fact a very particular
connection to the surrounding landscape of Battle Creek, including the lake and the
piping network. The intestines became part of this network through the colonic machine,
attaching bodies at the sanitarium, one by one, to the environment around them.
At the same time that Kellogg was refiguring the movement of food through the
body, hoards of engineers were refiguring the movement of waste through the sub-grade
of America's cities. Observations of illness and death in mid-nineteenth century
American cities fostered an increasing awareness about problems in urban environments.
"However much human attitudes and habits appeared at fault [for illness], the problems
of environmental pollution were physical. Their solution would be physical and
technological as well."51
51
Stanley K. Schultz and Clay McShane. 1978. To Engineer the Metropolis: Sewers, sanitation, and city
planning in late-nineteenth-century America. The Journal of American History 65 (2):392.
124
Chapter 5: The Systematization of Agriculture
To outline the contents of this chapter it is useful to analyze the term "science"
and how I am using it here. Most generally I think of science as a method of applying an
analytical system to any one practice that was - according to many of its practitioners in
the 1890s - reproducible in other geographical settings. In this chapter two practices
came under the gaze of an analytical system at around the same time period: growing
food and eating food. Within the theme of systematization, in this chapter I have
discussed how the application of chemistry, mechanization, and the rise of private seed
warehouses contributed to an "agricultural science" that impacted which foods were
available, and the way they arrived, at the sanitarium. Not only was the knowledge
produced by government-funded agricultural science translated into the gastro-based
medical practice at the sanitarium, but the material outcomes of that agricultural science
changed the way food was consumed and changed the quality of the digestive systems for
guests at the sanitarium.
One of my hypotheses for this chapter is that two seemingly disparate spheres of
society - the pharmacological consumption of food by American bodies, and the
positivistic production of crops on American farmlands - were undergirded by the same
scientific epistemology of the time that looked to chemistry for a way to maximize
efficiency and production, both for bodies and for land. One outcome of this chemical
knowledge was the production of material food - chunks of "second nature"1 - that was
Neil Smith. 1984. Uneven Development: Nature, capital, and the production of space. New York:
BlackwelL
125
further transformed by cultural interpretation (Kellogg in this case) and turned into health
foods. The crucial point where agricultural science and nutritional science met was the
stomach.
"We may well credit the assertion of an eminent author, that the general tendency
of thought in any nation may be determined by the character of the national diet. True as
this principle is when applied to the body in general, it is especially true in reference to
the stomach."2 Kellogg's statement assumes that the national diet makes the body and
tendencies of thought in a particular and shared way. But the making of the stomach is,
according to Kellogg, the means by which a national character is ultimately forged. To
interpret this with the geographical lens that I propose, then, the stomach as envisioned
and practiced on by Kellogg must be interpreted as connected to a wider landscape of
food production. Creating a national stomach could not have been imagined without first
creating a national agricultural landscape that could provide the necessary foods. Making
a national stomach, according to Kellogg, was a matter of feeding it the proper foods,
processed in the proper way, with the proper proportions of nutritive elements.
In this chapter we will see how Midwestern agriculture in the late nineteenth
century was becoming increasingly mechanized, reliant on science, and large-scale, able
to produce the grains en mass that would cure the ailing modern stomach as prescribed by
John Kellogg at the Battle Creek Sanitarium.3 "Something is wrong with the modern
" John Kellogg. 1896. The Stomach: Its disorders and how to cure them. Battle Creek, MI: Modern
Medicine Publishing Co.; p. 94.
The source for much of the sanitarium's wheat was local, though the geographical extent of "local" in this
case in unknown. "W.K. Kellogg...weighed in the local wheat at the Sanitas wagon scales." From Gerald
Carson. 1957. Cornflake Crusade. New York: Rinehart & Co.; p. 197.
126
stomach," says Kellogg, "the average stomach in civilized lands grows weaker year by
year, and disorders growing out of indigestion multiply with alarming rapidity."4 As we
have seen in chapters 2 and 3, the primary solution for taming the wilds of the modern
stomach was a diet that rested on the availability of whole grain-, fruit-, and nut-based
food products, meant to ease the work required of the digestive system, and to shorten the
amount of time food would spend inside the intestinal canal. Understanding how foods
were made that would interact with the body in this way completes the geography of
digestion, connecting the work of the intestines to landscapes of agricultural production.
Where did all these foods come from, and how were they produced? Just as gastrointestinal tracts at the sanitarium were becoming quantified5 and homogenized with the
language and tools of chemistry, a similar discourse of rationalization was taking place
on the mighty grain fields and the fruit farms of southern Michigan.
Chapter 4 described how once food was eaten and excreted, it became part of an
assemblage extending through Battle Creek, to lake, steam pump, cesspool, (back to the)
intestine, sewer, and river. This place of digestion - the city - is the penultimate place
that I have designated. As we have moved away from the body and the digestive system
we have encountered various machines and infrastructure in places along the way. Now,
as we continue to move on a transect through space away from the body, digestion enters
4
Kellogg, 1896: pp. 19-20.
1
For good examples of how Kellogg applied the language of quantification to the digestive system, see
John Kellogg. 1896. An Exact Method for Determining the Capacity of the Stomach and the Amount of
Residual Contents. Modern Medicine, July:3-ll.; John Kellogg. 1897. Cancer of the Stomach. Paper read
before the Michigan State Medical Society•: 1-11.
127
a new type of assemblage, with new connections to the material world around it. As
nature-society theorist Erik Swyngedouw recently put it,
metabolism ... simultaneously implies circulation, exchange, and the
transformation of material elements. When matter moves, it becomes 'enrolled'
in associational networks that generate qualitative changes and qualitatively new
assemblages.6
Now we will investigate the assemblage that existed before food entered into the
digestive system. Moving away from the sanitarium does not mean, however, that the
intestines are excluded from this assemblage. Shifting our gaze outward, away from the
city (figure 36), leads us to a qualitatively new assemblage.
Figure 36. Hinterlands southeast of Battle Creek, ca. 1885. (Image courtesy of the Library of Congress,
Geography and Map Division, American Memory digital archive.)
6
Erik Swyngedouw. 2009. Circulations and Metabolisms: (Hybrid) natures and (cyborg) cities. In
Technonatures: Environments, technologies, spaces and places in the twenty-first century, edited by C.
Wilbert and D. F. White. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press; pp. 65-66.
128
Describing it relies on exploring mechanical and biological technologies that made the
sanitarium's food available.
Agriculture in the Midwest and Michigan in the second half of the 19th century
The deliberate use of food to reform bodies at the sanitarium came out of a
deliberativeness that agricultural scientists were using to reform the shape of rural
landscapes. But how - and to what extent - was this agricultural science enacted by
farmers in the upper Midwest and specifically Michigan in the late nineteenth century?
Tracking the sanitarium's food from its place of inception - the farmlands - sends us to
another assemblage, one that is qualitatively different than the others. Here I will
describe the economic state of agriculture and the "discontent of the farmer" in this
period, then move on to two technologies - threshing machinery and mail order seed
banks - that impacted the way food was grown, extending the geography of digestion to
the hinterlands.
Much of the work undertaken at the experiment stations was ultimately a response
to widespread rural economic distress. By the late nineteenth century it was widely
acknowledged amongst U.S. farmers that they needed one another to overcome their
economic difficulties. A Michigan farmer in 1892 made the following lament:
The all-absorbing topic with the farmer at this time is, what shall we plant or sow
that will bring us some money this fall, for there is the hired help to pay and the
inevitable taxes, which like the poor, 'are always with us,' and nothing but the
cold hard cash will answer. Cattle are cheap, we cannot depend on beef or butter
for a profit; our clover did not catch last season, and cold weather and bare ground
have caused what did survive to heave out of the ground, and it is ruined; so we
129
cannot depend on any surplus hay to sell, and of course no clover seed to sell and
help out.7
The dying independent, autonomous, yeoman farmer caused much concern, and
encouraged a number of political responses - such as the Farmer's Alliance and the
Grange - which contributed to a larger populist movement. The attitude of these
organizations was that the solution to farmers' market troubles rested with the farmers
themselves; they were on whole extremely suspicious of government advice. In 1896
Harvey Wiley, then chief chemist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture attempted to
assuage the concerns of farmers by saying that ground-up organization alone could not
save farmers. Rather, according to Wiley, they needed guidance from outside their circle
to help increase the quality and quantity of yields.8 In short, he thought that they needed
new forms of knowledge, and that this new authoritative knowledge would come from
agricultural scientists. In the view of the USDA agricultural science would offer farmers
an alternative to both political organizing and traditional farming practices, the results of
which had not been effective enough in overcoming a rapid shift in agricultural
economics toward food-for-market production. In essence it offered a "third way" for
farmers to adapt to a dramatically and quickly changing agricultural economy.
Proponents of scientific agriculture claimed that in the past it was only the
abundance of cheap, fertile, accessible land that saved farmers from their lack of
knowledge about farming. According to the scientists, methods of irresponsible farming,
7
S.J. Youngman. 1892. What Crop Will Pay? Michigan Farmer and State Journal of Agriculture 23 (18).
Alan I. Marcus. 1985. Agricultural Science and the Quest for Legitimacy: Farmers, Agricultural
Colleges, and Experiment Stations, 1870-1890. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press; p. 5.
130
defined by unnecessary labor and waste, emerged from this ease of spatial mobility.
When the soil in fields became "worn out," farmers were able to move to a new piece of
land - generally in a westward direction - relatively easily. A confluence of population
intensification and competitive agricultural markets in the late nineteenth-century created
a situation where something had to change. Responding to what they saw as farming's
slow development in an era where other sectors of society were adapting scientific
principles, university and governmental agricultural scientists were eager to rationalize
practices of the farm.
This rationalization took the form of what was called systematization. Creation of
a farm system included the following actions: diversify and rotate crops, use manure and
artificial fertilizer, organize a farm layout and use barn architecture that is conducive to
efficiency, and establish a strict pattern of activity for chores and housework. The idea of
systemization wanted farms to become defined as "a group of discrete yet independent
and hierarchically organized parts,"9 or in other words, like a factory.10 The division of
labor on farms and its necessary spatial organization drew a page from the industry town
model. For engineers, farms and factories were likened for two reasons. First, farms
transformed materials into consumable goods. Second, farmers in the late nineteenth
century were becoming subjected to a new division of labor which took away their
power.11 To industrialize farms meant to take farmers away from the quotidian decisions
y
Marcus, 1985: p. 14.
10
Deborah Fitzgerald. 2003. Every Farm a Factory: The industrial ideal in American agriculture. New
Haven: Yale University Press.
11
Fitzgerald, 2003: p. 109.
131
that go into land management. Instead, this responsibility fell to external contractors,
many of whom were trained in business rather than agronomy.
Food Chemistry in Action
Kellogg was acutely aware of the link between food chemistry and physiology,
recognizing that "the function of a tissue or organ depends upon its structure. The
structure of every cell and fiber of the body depends upon the quality and quantity of the
material absorbed from the alimentary canal."12 While not explicitly a geographical
vision of digestion, relating the food's material quality to the structure and function of
cells in particular organs does tell us that Kellogg was deliberate in his prescriptions. For
Kellogg foods were precision tools, affecting the digestive system in ways that would
then affect the rest of the body. His list of prescription diet tables were "based upon
observations made in connection with the exact methods of analysis of stomach fluids
and the study of digestive disorders."13 At this point the work of sanitarium chemists
intersected with the work of those in the experimental kitchen. The contents of patients'
stomachs would be brought into the chemical laboratory for analysis, the results of which
would dictate which one of at least twenty-five diets should be administered. Analysis
measured mostly for hydrochloric acid and chlorine (figure 37).
12
Kellogg, 1896: p. 18.
n
Kellogg, 1896: p. 226.
132
TotaTacldity, (A)
3S« g»». W 3 ^ gmB.(.i8o-.aoo gms.)
Coefficient, {*)
*73
<*86)
Total drforlne, (T)
.49*
gnw.G300-.340 " }
Fr«eHCl,(H)
.*50fB».
{.ots-.oso «« )
Combined chlorine, (C) i»8 "
(.xs5-,i8o ,$ )
Fixed chlorides, <F)
.118
" (cyopgrns,)
Figure 37. These results from a stomach analysis at the sanitarium laboratory indicate a case of
"hyperpepsia." (Image reproduced from John Kellogg. 1894. The Treatment of Hyperpepsia. Modern
Medicine and Bacteriological Review 3 (4); p. 94. Courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library, University
of Michigan.)
The health of the patient represented in figure 36 - who was "thin in flesh and somewhat
anaemic [sic]" - has been reduced to a quantitative measure of stomach acid. In this case
Kellogg claimed that the patient's stomach produced a lot of acid, but not enough of it
became useful for the process of digestion because the required chlorine was consumed
by combining with "irritating" foods such as pickles, radishes, onions, and sauces. The
resulting hydrochloric acid, low in quality, rendered the stomach useless: "the digestive
product [gastric juice] is vitiated in character, so that the work of the stomach is almost
valueless."14 The diet cure for hyperpepsia included foods that reduced the overall
chlorine output, like rice, soft boiled eggs, stewed fruits, and pureed peas. Chemical
results such as these dictated how food was cooked in Ella Kellogg's kitchen, where she
utilized a separate set of quantitative guidelines to construct the perfectly measured
medicinal meal. These processes were deliberate, the actions of which were triggered by
the chemical-numerical results of the contents of the stomach. This demonstrates
specifically one of the ways that Kellogg overlaid a quantitative gastronomy over the
1
Kellogg, 1894: p. 94. "To vitiate" generally means to reduce the quality of, though it can also mean to
corrupt morally. This twin denotation is congruent with Kellogg's nation-building-through-stomachbuilding agenda.
133
body, one that would "thicken" the flesh and cure anemia. This type of precise
deliberativeness - one rooted in the language of chemistry - not just mirrored, but
emerged from government-funded agricultural research that sought to rationalize the
practice of growing food through the language of science.
The emergence of human nutrition as a respected scientific endeavor in the United
States happened in the 1890s, and is closely tied with the growth of research in scientific
agriculture.15 Therefore, to clarify the intellectual environment in which Kellogg
developed his quantitative gastro-based medicine, I now detail 1) the emergence of
scientific agriculture in Germany, 2) its geographical migration to the United States, and
3) how it then became applied to human bodies. Doing so will show us that food in this
story was subject to the same scientific gaze at two different points in its path from seed
to stomach: once in the fields, and once when it entered the body. In addition to showing
the material connections between the food we grow and the resulting bodies we create,
this history of science shows us how without the principles of quantification and
homogenization in agriculture, Kellogg would not have been able to make and sell the
promise of a deliberately, rationally produced body at the Battle Creek Sanitarium.
Scientific agriculture in Germany
German institutions responsible for training in scientific agricultural have had farreaching impacts. For example, from them emerged the German schools of forestry,
'^ Naomi Aronson. 1982. Nutrition as a Social Problem. A case study ot entrepreneurial strategy in science
Social Problems 29 (5)-474-487.
134
where American conservationist Gifford Pinchot was trained. The eventual outcome of
the German agricultural schools was a guiding idea of maximizing yields - whether the
farm or the forest - for profit.16 In Pinchot's case, this attitude led to the damming of the
Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park for the utilitarian capture of fresh water
for San Francisco, a landmark case in the American conservation movement. Pinchot,
however, is just one instance of the many American scientists who would make multiyear pilgrimages to Germany in order to advance their skills in the science of farming, so
that they could return to the U.S. and disseminate procedures on how to more efficiently
grow crops.17 During the second half of the nineteenth century it was easier for European
researchers in chemistry to receive funding for "theoretical" pursuits compared with
American researchers, who at the time were funded for research that resulted in
1&
"practical" advice to farmers.
The need of American scientists to train in Germany
belied a philosophical debate over the contents of agricultural education and training
between the two continents. In 1840, for example, Alexis De Tocqueville "lamented a
lack of emphasis on theoretical science in the United States."19
16
James C. Scott. 1998. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have
Failed. New Haven: Yale University Press; pp. 262-63.
17
Margaret W. Rossiter. 1975. The Emergence of Agricultural Science: Justus Liebig and the Americans,
1840-1880. New Haven: Yale University Press.
1X
Marcus, 1985.
19
Dana G. Dalrymple. 2009. The Smithsonian Bequest, Congress, and nineteenth-century efforts to
increase and diffuse agricultural knowledge in the United States. Agricultural History Review 57 (II):209.
135
In 1813 the Englishman Humphry Davy wrote one of the first theoretical
agricultural chemistry books titled Elements ofAgricultural Chemistry.20 His major
dilemma in this work was to reconcile the fact that humus was insoluble, but it was also
part of plant nutrition, so how did the humus get into the plant? He was very concerned
with processes of circulation and incorporation of humus, which framed debates in
agricultural chemistry for the rest of the century. Historian W.A. Shenstone describes
Davy's humus theory:
It had come to be supposed, prior to the date of Liebig's earliest writings on
agricultural chemistry, by many chemists and agriculturists, that this vegetable
mould was the source of the fertility of these soils. By an extension of this idea
many vegetable physiologists ascribed the fertility of all soils to its presence, and
even regarded it as the chief nutriment of the plants; it was supposed by them that
the humus was extracted form the soil by the roots of the growing plants.""
In 1840 Justus von Liebig deflated Davy's humus theory by showing that humus did not
contain all the elements necessary for plant nutrition. Liebig introduced a new theory the nitrogen cycle - that was still based on circulation but that also outlined the role of
the atmosphere in providing plant nutrition. At the same time he also explained the role
of minerals in plant nutrition.22 Davy's main question, however, still remained.
Agricultural chemists in the 1840s, including Liebig, were trying to understand how
elements were incorporated into, and circulated through plants and soils. They focused
on nitrogen, carbon, and the role of humus in these interactions. Liebig was especially
' Humphry Davy. 1814. Elements of Agricultural Chemistry. 2nd ed. London. Longman, Hurst, Rees,
Orme and Brown. First published in 1813.
21
W.A. Shenstone. 1895. Justus Von Liebig: His life and work (1803-1873). New York. MacMillan, p 88
*" Justus von Liebig. 1840. Organic Chemistry in its Applications to Agriculture and Physiology London
Taylor and Walton.
136
obsessed with the source of nitrogen for plants, calling it "the most important object of
agriculture."23
Though scientific research in agriculture dates back to at least 1806 in Germany,
Liebig's name in the 1840s rose to became synonymous with "agricultural chemistry,"
and with the progress and usefulness that science could offer to agriculture. "Liebig thus
managed in less than two hundred pages to put together a wholly new synthesis of
agricultural chemistry. It was probably one of the most important scientific books ever
published and marks the beginning of a scientific revolution."25 Liebig's new chemistrybased agriculture relied on inputs to the soil to replace the elements that were taken by
crops. Well into the eighteenth century agriculture functioned as more of a closed
system, with nutrients being replaced by farm by-products such as manure, grass shafts,
and fallow periods for fields. With the inception of growing food expressly for the
market, most of the nutrients that would have re-entered the farm system were taken
away, and less land was put to fallow. Replacing this deficit was the purpose of
chemistry.
Chemistry is not only able to specify what these [lost] substances are, but can also
synthesise the ones which the soil lacks, and which the farmer could not produce
in sufficient quantity or only at excessive cost. Stable manure is not sufficient to
maintain the equilibrium of modern agriculture producing for the market 21
Rossiter, 1975: p. 25.
24
Dalrymple, 2009: p. 213. Albrecht Thaer's agricultural school, founded in 1806 near Berlin, is one mark
of the beginning of modern agricultural science, serving as the model for agricultural education until the
1840s. On 1,200 acres students learned about farming from both theoretical and practical perspectives.
See also Karl Kautsky. 1988 [1899]. The Agrarian Question. Translated by P. Burgess. Vol. 1. Winchester,
Mass.: Zwan Publications; pp. 56-57.
25
Rossiter, 1975: p. 25.
137
especially a market which does not return the vast bulk of the nutritional material
which it takes from the land. 6
Liebig set up his initial laboratory in Giessen, Germany under the patronage of
Alexander Von Humboldt, and in 1851 founded his more enduring station in Mockern,
just outside of Leipzig. This was the world's first official "agricultural experiment
station," consisting of a 120 acre experimental farm and a small laboratory, emphasizing
the need of field experimentation and as well as chemical investigations that required a
separate laboratory away from the field. While German and American scientists saw
Liebig's experiment station as a successful "middle way" between science and practice,
convincing most American farmers of the need for laboratory experiments in soil
chemistry - dictating how they should farm - would be a challenge.
Agricultural Science comes to the United States and southern Michigan
The first governmental agricultural experiment station in the United States was
opened by the state of Connecticut in 1875, while Kellogg was laying ground for the new
sanitarium building. By that time, however, Michigan was already well established as a
place with strong ties between government-funded scientific research in agriculture and
educational outreach. Upon admission to the Union in 1837, the state government made
a "geological" survey of its lands, the benefits of which were the following:
(1) It disseminates knowledge of soils, (2) it shows how to correct deficiencies in
them, (3) it reveals mineral manures, (4) it accumulates information about
26
Kautsky, 1988 [1899]: pp. 52-53.
138
destructive insects, and (5) it disseminates knowledge of plants, useful and
noxious.27
The impulse to latch onto the program of rationalization in agriculture that was already
bursting in Europe happened earlier and more strongly in Michigan than it did in most
other states. Creating a catalog of problems and solutions to them - like deficiencies in
soils, as well as entomological and botanical pests - was the beginning of an approach to
farming that would increase homogenization of farming practices, styles, and biotic
ecologies. Indeed, Michigan's state agricultural college, which opened in 1855, was the
first such institution founded in the country.
After Connecticut, subsequent experiment stations in eastern and Midwestern
states opened throughout the 1880s and 1890s, with Michigan's opening in 1888. The
role of the experiment stations was to "perform the experiments in cultivation which the
individual farmer, lacking time and opportunity, could not."29 Results from all kinds of
experiments having to do with soil quality, necessary soil elements, and how to
manipulate the balance of those elements through the use of farm inputs were then ideally at least - relayed to farmers who were in the constituency of the station.
Scientific agriculture was based most decisively on the activity of experimentation. An
experiment
Alfred C. True. 1937. A History of Agricultural Experimentation and Research in the United States,
1607-1925. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture Miscellaneous Publication no. 251,
Government Printing Office; p. 16.
28
Dalrymple, 2009, p. 230. See also Paul E. Waggoner. 1976. Research and Education in American
Agriculture. Agricultural History 50 (1):233.
Charles E. Rosenberg. 1972. Science, Technology, and Economic Growth: The case of the agricultural
experiment station scientist, 1875-1914. In Nineteenth-Century American Science: A reappraisal, edited by
G. H. Daniels. Evanston: Northwestern University Press; p. 182.
139
was grounded upon precision or exactness, a formalness lacking in casual
observations.... [I]t was a systematically pursued observation undertaken
according to and governed by an established series of ordered procedures and, as
a consequence, reproducible.
Adopting the practice of experimentation was spurred due to a perceived relationship
between
professional scientific competence and the restoration of American agriculture, ...
experimentation marked the true scientific professional.... To experiment
scientifically on the farm required the same means as those employed in the other
sciences and in late nineteenth century America that meant access to a
laboratory.31
It is not surprising, then, that between 1889 and 1900 the number of chemists employed
nation-wide at the experiment stations rose from 106 to 143.32 To put this in perspective,
nation-wide in 1900 there were fifty-five botanists, fifty entomologists, sixteen
meteorologists, seven irrigation engineers, six biologists, and six zoologists. Accepted
claims to proper practice in scientific agriculture, then, rested safely within the discipline
of chemistry.
Liebig's program of agricultural science - while not without its critics - was
eventually concretized in the United States by the aid of two Congressional Acts. The
1840 U.S.-release of his Organic Chemistry caused a great stir from farmers who were
wary of theoretical knowledge, and who doubted Liebig's claim to guaranteed soil
fertility. Yet he forcefully advocated for a "rational system of agriculture," based on
"scientific principles" to increase soil fertility, the knowledge for which he claimed "we
10
Marcus, 1985: p. 23.
11
Marcus, 1985: pp. 23-24.
12
True, 1937: p. 137.
140
must seek from chemistry."
After decades of effort by a number of American
agricultural scientists who had trained in Leipzig, the U.S. Congress passed two pieces of
legislation that reflected Liebig's advocacy. First, the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862
provided funding for the development of agricultural colleges, the mission of which was
to advance knowledge about crop growing and to train young farmers in progressive
methods. And second, passed in 1887 the Hatch Act funded states to open and operate
agricultural experiment stations.34 The Act's passage symbolizes the advanced
proliferation of scientization in American culture, creating "a network of federally
supported state stations devoted to agricultural investigation and experimentation."3^
When the Act passed, systematic experimental work was already underway in Michigan,
but no station was associated with the land-grant college.36 The federal government's
Department of Agriculture, which had just been created in 1862 promised that these
stations would serve as the middle ground between agricultural practice and theory, and
therefore consisted of both land plots and chemistry laboratories.37
These two acts signaled the political success of a growing interest among
scientists and farmers in the role of scientific agriculture and its promise to systematize
crop production, turning farm fields and the soil they contained into the products of
11
Liebig, 1840: p. vii.
14
Dorothy Schwieder. 1990. Agricultural Issues in the Middle West, 1865-1910. In Agriculture and
National Development: Views on the nineteenth century, edited by L. Ferleger. Ames: Iowa State
University Press; pp. 107-108.
^Marcus, 1985: p. ix.
v
' True, 1937: p. 130.
1,1
True, 1937: p. 175.
141
laboratory experimentation. Chemists working at the state experiment stations asked how
plants received nourishing elements (nitrogen, carbon, phosphorous, ammonia) from the
atmosphere and the soil, and in what proportion these elements were required in order to
maximize yields. The activities of people associated with these institutions represent an
ideal, that is, how they thought the direction of agricultural practice should happen.
While on-the-ground practice varied with each farmer's preferences, and while those
preferences were sometimes at odds with the ideals, knowing the theoretical perspectives
of agricultural "experts" helps us to understand an emerging type of agriculture that
allowed for the mass production of grains.
The passage of these Acts was largely the result of lobbying by the American
agricultural scientist Samuel Johnson, who was convinced that the United States needed
to replicate the research methodologies and funding structures from Germany where he
had studied." Johnson went to Leipzig in 1853 where he became convinced that Liebig's
was the best "middle way" between agricultural practice and theory. In the early 1870s
Johnson and his student Wilbur Atwater led the drive that culminated in the Connecticut
experiment station. Johnson also worked to show distrusting farmers the benefits of
scientific agriculture (e.g. chemical soil and fertilizer analysis). His two texts - How
Crops Grow (1868), and How Crops Feed (1870) - were used extensively for the 40
years after their publication in agricultural colleges and at the experiment stations.
Johnson practiced and contributed to the development of soil physics, which included
variables such as soil absorption, capillarity, permeability, cohesiveness, expansion, and
™ Rossiter, 1975: pp. 127-128.
142
retention of moisture. He believed that science and art, or theory and practice, were not
to be separated. Science, however, always preceded art: "the farmer without his reasons,
his theory, his science, can have no plan."39
How it then became applied to human bodies: Wilbur Atwater
Wilbur Atwater used the Department of Agriculture's experiment stations as a
platform for instigating research in human nutrition, "a new field in which he faced no
competition."4 As someone who rose to power as the eventual director of the stations
under the tutelage of Samuel Johnson, Atwater was armed with the ideas, the tools, the
funding, and the laboratories to extend the USDA's mission of improving agriculture to
human bodies. In 1871, having just returned from two years of study in Leipzig and
Berlin, Atwater was a professor at Eastern Tennessee University. In Germany he studied
with Carl Voit, who like Liebig was a chemist interested in applying lessons from plant
physiology and nutrition to humans. During this time Atwater traveled back and forth to
Germany, "studying minimum daily protein and caloric requirements and the effects of
such characteristics as age, sex, and occupation on nutritional needs."41 Atwater then
accepted a job at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where he helped his mentor
Johnson lobby for the creation of the agricultural experiment stations, using the
argument that they were needed to combat widespread fertilizer fraud. However, they
V)
Samuel W. Johnson. 1900. How Crops Grow: A treatise on the chemical composition, structure and life
of the plant, for students of agriculture. New York: Orange Judd Co.; p. 2.
40
Aronson, 1982: p. 475.
41
Aronson, 1982: p. 476.
143
argued that independent research unrelated to soil fertilizers - such as nutrition - was
important as well. Atwater claimed of station scientists that "their chief work is the study
of the broad and intricate questions of animal and vegetable nutrition, [and] the learning
of the laws of animal and vegetable growth."42
Justus von Liebig saw that the twin processes of absorption and circulation that he
studied in soils and plants were applicable to animal bodies as well.41 He was concerned
with the "respiratory metabolism" of animals, and showed that "the heat produced by the
body could be entirely accounted for by oxidative processes, as opposed to .. vital
activity, such as electrical forces or nervous activity."44 Underpinning these experiments
was a concern for how much protein, carbohydrates, and fats were required for bodies to
produce this heat, experiments guided by questioning the relationship between food
consumption and bodily activity. In the 1880s Wilbur Atwater picked up on Liebig's
direction and began to apply the ideologies of rationalization and deliberation to food
after it was harvested and eaten, culminating in a number of nutritional guides published
in the 1890s.45 These guides were funded with the intention of maximizing the health of
42
Rossiter, 1975 p 163
Justus von Liebig. 1848. Researches on the Chemistry of Food, and the Motion of the Juices in the
Animal Body. Lowell, MA. Daniel Bixby.
44
Paul E Howe 1942 Liebig and the Chemistry of Animal Nutrition In Liebig and After Liebig A
century of progress in agricultural chemistry, edited by F R Moulton Washington, D C American
Association lor the Advancement ol Science, p 40
"" Wilbur O. Atwater 1895 Methods and Results of Investigations on the Chemistry and Economy of Food
Bulletin No 21 Washington, D C Government Printing Office, U S Department ot Agriculture Office of
Experiment Stations , Wilbur O Atwater and Chas D Woods. 1896 The Chemical Composition of
American Food Materials Bulletin No 28. Washington, D C Government Printing Office, U S
Department of Agriculture Office of Experiment Stations ; Wilbur O Atwater and F G.Benedict 1902
Experiments on the Metabolism of Matter and Energy in the Human Body Washington, D C . Government
Printing Office
144
the working class and increasing the productivity of the nation.
If nutrition could
become cheap and efficient, the working class would not have to spend excess time and
money on food, a problem that was believed to threaten the functioning of the entire
urban industrial economy. As such, Atwater provided suggestions about which foods to
eat, which were unnecessary, and which were affordable for the modern working body.
The roots (of what Foucault would call a form of "bio-power") of eating right in America
began with Atwater, and is still strong today as evidenced by the USDA's Food Guide
Pyramid.48
Kellogg's style of quantifying the elements of food in his diet kitchens was taken
from the work of Atwater. Nearly identical charts with categories of carbohydrates,
protein, fat, and calories are found in each of their publications, and Kellogg gives
reference to Atwater as the source for this method. Kellogg demonstrates his
commitment to food as a quantifiable medicine:
When the composition of a food is known, its calorific value, that is, the number
of food units which it contains, may be easily determined.... By the use of these
factors, it is easy to make a list of foods of known energy value per ounce,
provided one has at hand a table showing the percentage composition of
foodstuffs. Extensive tables of this sort are published by the United States
Government. Bulletin No. 28 (Revised) of the Agricultural Department is
' Norman W. Storer. 1980. Science and Scientists in an Agricultural Research Organization: A
sociological study. New York: Arno Press.
47
Kenneth Carpenter. 1994. The Life and Times of W.O. Atwater (1844-1907). Journal of Nutrition
124T707S-1714S.
4X
Michel Foucault. 1990. The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction. Translated by R. Hurley.
New York: Vintage Books; pp. 140-141.; Carole A. Davis, Patricia Britten, and Esther Myers. 2001. Past,
Present, and Future of the Food Guide Pyramid. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 101 (8).
145
particularly valuable. The data furnished by this bulletin have served as the
foundation for the tables which are in use at the Battle Creek Sanitarium.49
The foundational document to which Kellogg refers - Bulletin No. 28 - was first
published by Atwater in 1896 under the USDA Office of Experiment Stations, and is
titled The Chemical Composition of American Food Materials. Atwater brought the
study of nutritive values of human food into practice in the United States via the
Agricultural Experiment Stations at which he was employed. Following Liebig and Voit,
he did so by quantifying the amount of refuse, water, protein, fat, carbohydrates, and ash
for an incredible number of what he calls "American food products" (figure 38).
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Figure 3 8 . W i l b u r A t w a t e r ' s 1896 nutritional chart, s h o w i n g the results of chemical analyses that measure
the a m o u n t of refuse, water, protein, fat, c a r b o h y d r a t e s , ash, and "fuel v a l u e " (calories). (Image reproduced
from A t w a t e r & W o o d s , 1896.)
Atwater's dissection of a multitude of foodstuffs provided Kellogg with the format and
the methodology to concoct the "perfect" diet for his patients. In Kellogg's adaptation of
Atwater's presentation he shows the number of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that a
typical body needed at the sanitarium to stay healthy (figure 39).
Kellogg, J.H. 1 9 0 8 . The Battle Creek Sanitarium
M I : G a g e Printing C o ; p p . 117-119.
System:
146
History,
organization,
methods.
Battle Creek,
Table Showing Height, Weight, Skin Surface, and Number of
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Figure 39 Kellogg's 1908 adaptation of Atwater's nutritional chart, describing how many food elements
different body types need to stay healthy. (Image reproduced trom Kellogg, 1908.)
t>J
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65
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Kellogg in this chart uses proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to break down the food
products to be used for diet prescriptions, whereas Atwater used these three categories
plus "refuse, water, and ash." Atwater defined refuse as "the bones of meat and fish,
shells of shellfish, skin of potatoes, bran of wheat, etc," and ash as mineral matter that
includes "potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium chlorides, sulphates, and
superphosphates. "s0
Why Machines? I Appropriationism
Tractors, plows, and harvesters, many gas powered, and all of increasing size
dominated agriculture in this period, and they all found a market with farmers who were
trying to sell grains that were in high supply. A Michigan farmer describes the economic
condition of agriculture with regards to the use of machinery:
The use of improved machinery on the farm has increased the power of doing
work of the producer manifold.... Prices for country products have, generally
Atwater & Woods, 1896; p. 8.
147
speaking, lowered during the last decade, which goes to show that production is
still a good ways in advance of consumption.51
Farmers profited not by selling a few high quality, expensive products, but by producing
as much as possible to sell many low-priced bushels of grain. For a strategy with such a
low margin of error, where one failed crop could put a farmer out of business, technology
updates that promised full, healthy crops that could be quickly prepared for market were
very attractive. Low market prices through the 1890s and the ensuing social unrest were
termed by Edward Bemis as "the discontent of the farmer."52
The direct confrontation with nature sets agriculture apart from all other sectors of
the modern economy. Abstractions of the market do not easily match up with natural
processes. "Making biological organisms jump through productive hoops has not always
been easy, ... and the growers have often had to turn to modern science in order to unlock
nature's secrets - a process that continues in today's biotechnology revolution."53
Agriculture has long confounded the free market economic system. Because of the
necessary time and risk investments made by farmers to account for the nature of their
product, food production is subject to dramatic bust and boom cycles that normally
operate on a slower time scale than fluctuations in market demand. Farmers are unable to
make quick responses to market demands because they must manage challenging
variables such as rainfall, pests, temperature, and soil condition. Additionally, land itself
1
F. Riddell. 1892. The Other Side of the Food Question. Michigan Farmer and State Journal of
Agriculture 23 (29).
" Edward W. Bemis. 1893. The Discontent of the Farmer. The Journal of Political Economy 1 (2):193-213.
Richard Walker. 2004. The Conquest of Bread: 150 years of agribusiness in California. New York: New
Press; pp. 6-7.
148
is not part of a farmer's capital that can be bought and sold when necessary. It is the
"nature" in farming that has kept it distinct with respect to other factory-model
production processes that emerged with the industrial revolution in the early nineteenth
century, and is why subsidies have been a mainstay in the business. Edwin Willits,
president of Michigan's State Agricultural College in 1885, captures this distinction of
how farming is different than the other "mechanic arts."
There is a radical difference between agriculture and the mechanic arts. A skilled
artisan can select his material and apply his principle and construct a machine that
shall be practically complete, perfect, and in accord with his plans and
expectations. But no farmer can with certainty predict the outcome of his labors.
What with the weather, untimely frost, difference in soils, blight, and mildew,
uncertain germination, injurious insects, birds, and animals, coming unheralded
and in unexpected character and numbers, noxious diseases to crop and beast, and
the vicissitudes of seed-time and harvest, there would seem to be too much
uncertainty in agriculture to call it a science, and too many elements of doubt to
be solved anywhere by any one, much less in a school room by theorists/4
Agricultural science promised to eradicate, or flatten these variables by systematizing
each stage in the food growing process, from seed selection to the depth of seed drilling,
to soil inputs to harvesting machinery. Willits doubted this promise of a universal
solution, that all farms would benefit equally by off-site research. Instead he represents a
side of the debate that recognizes the unique topographical and specific characteristics of
each farm.
The productive limits of the land, and the incessant pushing of those limits by the
industrialization of agriculture, have been described as "appropriationism." This refers to
the process of transferring each component of agricultural production (e.g. seed
149
improvements, fertilizing, or threshing) to specific sectors of industrial activity that take
place off the farm, thereby removing a set of activities from farms that had previously
contributed to a relatively closed economic and ecological system. The rise of guano
importers, or agricultural machinery factories, for example, took nutrient circulation away
from farms and put it in a global economic circulation. "This discontinuous but persistent
undermining of discrete elements of the agricultural production process, their
transformation into industrial activities, and their re-incorporation into agriculture as
inputs we designate as appropriationism."
This type of economic activity began in
earnest in the mid nineteenth century, and was in full stride by 1890. For agriculture to
be industrialized and food to be commodified, the entire process of growing food had to
be compartmentalized and broken down into all of its constituent parts. These processes
were replaced - broadly - by machinery, chemistry, and biology, categories which
roughly align with technological developments in agriculture through the nineteenth and
twentieth centuries. Plowing, then, for example, became a separate, marketable process
with the invention of the moldboard plow in the 1850s. It was an object that fit, unlike
food, into a factory system that did not rely on seasonality, temporary labor, or natural
disasters.
Due largely to generous federal land policies such as the 1862 Homestead Act,
much of the upper Midwest was under agricultural land cover by the beginning of the
' Edwin Willits. 1885. Industrial Education, In Department of Agriculture, Miscellaneous Special Report
No. 9: Proceedings of a convention of delegates from agricultural colleges and experiment stations held at
the Department of Agriculture. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office; p. 62.
David Goodman, Bernardo Sorj, and John Wilkinson. 1987. From Farming to Biotechnology: A theory
of agro-industrial development. New York: Blackwell; p. 1.
150
Civil War. Integral to this phenomenon is the role that agricultural machinery played in
"the opening of the prairies."56 Prior to the 1850s the use of mechanical implements on
Midwestern farms was generally restricted because of the costs associated with
purchasing and maintaining the machines. It was cheaper, if slower, to hire laborers.
This changed when farm machinery manufacturing became more efficient, and the price
of labor rose due to demands from other industries and the construction of railroads, both
of which took away farm hands to higher paying jobs. Between 1860 and 1900 the
amount of money that farmers in this region invested in horse-drawn machinery wagons, seed drills, broadcast sowers, mowers, cultivators, and threshers - nearly
doubled, as it was a time when farmers learned to "farm sitting down."57
From extensification to intensification
Reasons why farmers adopted machinery on such a widespread scale are varied
and complex, however the most plausible explanation is an economic one. That is, for a
Midwestern farmer to stay in business in the second half of the nineteenth century, his
yields per acre had to progressively increase. Many historians of agriculture credit this
necessity to the flooding of the grain markets that stemmed from the liberal land policies,
exemplified by the Homestead Act. With more and more acres of prairie under
cultivation, there was a surplus that not even global markets of the time could sustain.
,6
Donald L. Winters. 1990. The Economics of Midwestern Agriculture, 1865-1900. In Agriculture and
National Development: Views on the nineteenth century, edited by L. Ferleger. Ames: Iowa State
University Press; p. 76, quote from p. 81.
" Winters, 1990.
151
The solution that most farmers enacted to survive in a climate of ever-decreasing crop
prices was to produce ever-more. This required a shift in farming practices from
extensification to intensification, a process that took place over the course of the century.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century American farmers were more readily able to
extensify their land holdings if they needed to produce more crop for subsistence or for
market. But as population pressures grew and the nation moved toward the "closing of
the frontier,"58 farmers could no longer move onward or outward, they had to increase the
productivity of what land they already had. This, generally, marks the shift from
extensive agriculture to intensive agriculture. Intensive agriculture, then would become
the dominant paradigm for American crop production that is still clearly visible today.
Intensification consisted of soil inputs like new forms of fertilizers, allowing for greater
yields per acre, as well as new machines that allowed the same number of farmers to
work larger tracts of land. In the language of progress, of course, this was all excellent in
spite of the fact that many farmers were unable to keep up, and were forced to migrate to
impoverished urban areas. As the contemporary political economist and cultural critic
Thorstein Veblen put it:
Agriculture is fast assuming the character of an "industry," in the modern sense,
and the development of the next few decades may not improbably show us, in
farming as in other occupations, a continual improvement in methods and a steady
decline in cost of production, even in the face of a considerably increased
demand.59
18
Frederick J. Turner. 1975. The Significance of the Frontier in American History. In The Frontier in
American History. Malabar, FL: R. E. Krieger.
w
Thorstein Veblen. 1893. The Food Supply and the Price of Wheat. The Journal of Political Economy 1
(3):379.
152
The changing methods of growing, and declines in costs of production were the
cornerstones to the new intensive form of agriculture, the efficiency of which is described
by political scientist C.F. Emerick:
Better methods of husbandry, the use of superior implements, specialization of
agricultural production and vastly improved transportation facilities, whereby
large areas of new lands have been brought under cultivation, have been
indispensable to this increase in productive efficiency.60
Johnson and Atwater led the charge of chemistry's role in agricultural
intensification that sought to separate, categorize, and rationalize every component of the
process of growing food so as to maximize yields. For this scheme to work, farmers had
to use machinery, and by the 1860s a widespread farm implement manufacturing industry
had emerged, benefitting from the demands of the grappling farmers. Farming is divided
into a group of separate procedures: plowing, sowing, weeding, harvesting, reaping, and
threshing, and the mechanization of each of these processes was underway by the 1860s.
Many of these machines appeared concurrently because of the "bottleneck" effect of the
division of farm labor. The bottleneck effect occurred when one part of the farming
process that was aided by a machine outpaced another part of the process, so that, for
example, there may be acres of a crop thanks to a mechanical seeder, but no means to
harvest the crop in the same low-labor, mechanized manner. For this reason the
mechanization of most processes in food production tended to emerge
contemporaneously.61 "Advances in one aspect of farm production required advances in
C.F. Emerick. 1896. An Analysis of Agricultural Discontent in the United States. I. Political Science
Quarterly 11 (3):436.
61
Willard Cochrane. 1979. The Development of American Agriculture: A historical analysis. Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota Press; pp. 195-196.
153
other aspects; if one farm operation became easier or quicker, it was of little use to the
farmer unless he could speed up other aspects of the production process."62
The Nichols & Shepard Thresher, Fabricated in Battle Creek
Large scale agricultural machinery was the medium through which power was
applied to fields in order to transform raw material into commodities. These technologies
were the mechanistic arms of the ideology of systematization. The design and fabrication
of some of the most widely distributed farm machinery in the United States for tilling,
planting, harvesting, and especially threshing was done in Battle Creek.
The use of mechanical threshers in Europe between the years 1862-1895
increased more than the use of machines related to any other farm activity, outpacing
sowers, reapers, rakers, and ploughs.63 Likewise in the United States, the thresher was
crucial not only because it raised profits by reducing the number of required laborers on
each farm, but because it could work faster than even a large group of workers armed
with flails. Flailing was normally done in winter months, providing job security for rural
wage workers, but as markets constricted approaching the turn of the twentieth century
farmers began to send their fall harvests to market immediately. The thresher, and
especially the steam-powered thresher, made this possible. At the same time that it was
industrializing farming, it was the machine perhaps most responsible for the surge in rural
62
Cochrane, 1979: p. 196.
61
Kautsky, 1988 [1899]: p. 44.
154
to urban migration in this period.
As each region and sub-region in the Midwest had its
own crop specialization, so too did the manufacture of different farm machines have their
own geographic centers. The center of manufacturing for threshing machines sold
throughout most of the United States was in Battle Creek, Michigan. Two companies
dominated this industry: Nichols & Shepard and Advance Thresher. Here I focus on the
Nichols & Shepard corporation.
Nichols & Shepard was a foundry established in 1848 that specialized in plows,
mill machinery, and farm equipment.65 Like most farm implement manufacturers of the
time, John Nichols was a blacksmith who would forge individual hand tools at the
request of farmers.66 In 1852 Nichols, realizing that the act of grain threshing had not yet
been "appropriated" from manual labor to a machine, made his first thresher in an attempt
to fill the niche and to industrialize a component of agriculture that had not yet been. As
he and David Shepard continued to improve the design, the machine grew in popularity
throughout the Midwest, so that in 1876 when the company officially incorporated, its
annual sales aggregate was $1 million. It was the largest factory in the city at that time,
employing "200 hands, and consuming] annually about a million feet of lumber, 1,000
tons of pig iron and 500 tons of wrought iron."
64
They covered at least ninety-seven
Kautsky, 1988 [1899]: p. 46.
65
Bernice B. Lowe. 1976. Tales of Battle Creek. Battle Creek, MI: Albert L. and Louise B. Miller
Foundation; p. 64.
66
Harold A. Hooker. 1952. The History and Development of the Oliver Corporation in Battle Creek,
Michigan. In Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections. East Lansing. The Oliver
Corporation is the name of what used to be known as the Nichols & Shepard Corporation.
67
Hooker, 1952: p. 4.
155
acres with workshops that made over 1,500 threshing machines per year, which were
exported on flat car trains to farmlands throughout the United States.
The Vibrator Threshing Machine was the company's most lasting and popular
product (figure 40).
Figure 40. The Nichols & Shepard Vibrator Threshing Machine, ca. 1890. (Image courtesy of the Bentley
Historical Library, University of Michigan.)
This machine made possible and encouraged the systematization of agriculture,
disregarding micro-variations in plants brought about by seeds, topography, and soil. It
worked by feeding stalks of grass - wheat, barley, etc. - into the front end (at left) at
which point they would move through five vibrating plates (diagonal, toothed, in figure
41), separating the grain from the shaft, and catching the grain in trays below.
156
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Figure 41. The Nichols & Shepard Vibrator Threshing Machine vibrating plates (above) and grain tray
(below), ca. 1890. (Image courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.)
Edith Butler describes a mechanical threshing event in Allegan County, near Battle
Creek, during a fall in the 1890s.
The separator [thresher] was maneuvered into place at the barn door and the
engine at the right distance down the lane so that a long, wide belt could run
between a wheel on the engine and one on the separator. The water wagon was
taken to the river and filled. A pile of wood was ready to stoke the engine and
generate steam for power. The next morning, while the engineer built up steam in
the engine, neighbors gathered, exchanging work for like help in their threshing.
A man stood on the platform at the rear end of the separator to receive the bundles
of wheat pitched to him. He push [sic] the bundles at the proper angle into the
hungry machine. Out came the straw onto a carrier that conveyed it to a mow or
stack. At the other side of the separator the grain poured into a sack. Two men
alternated at grabbing the filled sacks and carrying them to the granary.
Additional attachments allowed for the weighing and bagging of the grain, so that
the farmer would not have to rake and collect grain from the bin. The ultimate effect of
the Threshing Machine was "to produce the most marvelous separation of the grain or
seeds, and most perfect motion of the straw through the machine ever known."69
Edith Butler. 1984. Growing Up on a Michigan Farm in the 1890s. Michigan History 68 (2); p. 14.
69
Nichols & Shepard Co. Vibrator Threshing Machine catalog, ca. 1890. Michigan Trade Catalogs
collection, Box 1: Agricultural machinery. Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.
157
Variations in the quality of grains grown by farmers, whether they be variations in
season, or in the geography of individual fields, were not recognized by the Vibrator,
homogenizing the task of threshing. Where special attention would have been paid to
smaller, larger, looser, tighter, drier, or wetter stalks, the Vibrator enabled farmers to
ignore, and perhaps not even notice these variations. The company claimed that a
thresherman with a Nichols & Shepard Threshing Machine is "enabled to do thorough,
clean threshing, no matter how wet or tough the straw, or what the condition of the grain
or seeds."70 This ability to ignore botanical variation is indicative of the changing nature
of farm labor in the nineteenth century. The twin purposes of high yields and fast
harvests were increasingly nullifying what had been since at least the fifth century a selfcontained, self-reliant system, "a farming system of extraordinary strength and durability,
conservative in the best sense of the term."71 Those who opposed the advent of scientific
agriculture feared exactly this loss of detail, local knowledge of landscape, which in the
opposition's view was to the determent of farmers' livelihoods and independence.
The threshers that were being mass produced in Battle Creek were dispersed
throughout upper Midwest fields. The labor energy that went into fabricating the
threshers returned to Battle Creek in the form of train car loads filled with wheat and
other grains that were uniform in dimension and appearance, that would be transformed
into health foods under the guiding hands of John and Ella Kellogg. The manufacture of
thresher machines in the very same place where digestive systems were being reformed
70
Vibrator Threshing Machine catalog, ca. 1890.
71
Kautsky, 1988 [1899]: p. 21.
158
brings those machines into the geography of digestion. The early years of the health food
industry in which we have seen the appropriation of digestion to the machines at the
sanitarium happened at the same time, and in the same town, that farming became
industrialized and appropriated as well.72
Off-farm technologies - Mail order seed companies
The "perfect work" done by the Vibrator meant the homogenization of plants, a
mono-cropped field built for its style of threshing. In the same way that the turfgrass
"spoke" to its subjects in chapter 3, the thresher machine on the farm fields "told" the
grass what to do. In order to use the Vibrator Threshing machine most efficiently,
farmers needed fields of grasses to grow in the most uniform way possible. Making
uniform fields began with finding uniform seeds that were guaranteed to take, and that
were not susceptible to deadly pests and fungi.
When the USDA was founded in 1862 its two major directives were to
disseminate information about agriculture, and "to procure, propagate, and distribute
among the people new and valuable seeds and plants."73 On a continent with few native
agricultural crops, the colonization of America depended largely on the importation of
seeds from around the world, an endeavor which had persisted and was still in full swing
" I am indebted to Melanie DuPuis for this point.
Gladys L. Baker, V. Rasmussen, and J.M. Porter. 1963. Century of Service: The first one hundred years
of the department of agriculture. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. From Jack
R. Kloppenburg. 1988. First The Seed: The political economy of plant biotechnology, 1492-2000. New
York: Cambridge University Press; p. 59.
159
at the founding of the USDA.
Even into the early 1880s, nearly one third of the
department's budget was devoted to global seed collecting and the distribution of those
seeds to American farmers. When the Hatch Act was passed in 1887, officially
sanctioning the agricultural experiment stations, "a regular program of exotic plant and
seed distribution" was arranged through the station operators.
As one of the projects of
government-funded scientific agriculture - to collect, categorize, improve, and distribute
seeds - there was not uncritical acceptance of this advice from farmers. As one
anonymous Michigan farmer said, "but clean fields and well fertilized land will render
the necessity for changing seed much less frequent than some farmers now find it, if they
wish good crops."76 Here he is speaking to the practice of changing seed varieties each
planting cycle to ensure against the possible rise of insect and fungal pests. He is
expressing a widespread belief that reusing varieties from year to year is safe as long as
fields are kept clean and the proper fertilizer is used. He continues to say that
[q]uite a number of comparatively new varieties of wheat are being advertised this
season, most of which have been tested to greater or less extent in portion of this
State. In this connection the questions naturally arises, why are new varieties
constantly coming up, and being sown by farmers, while old ones are gradually
discarded until they are completely lost sight of?77
At the writing of this question in 1892 it was a very good one. Where were the seeds
coming from? Beginning in the 1890s the source of those seed varieties for all sorts of
74
Allred W. Crosby. 1986. Ecological Imperialism: The biological expansion of Europe, 900-1900. New
York: Cambridge University Press.
7
' Kloppenburg, 1988: p. 60.
76
Seed Wheat. 1892. Michigan Farmer and State Journal of Agriculture 23 (35)
77
Seed Wheat, 1892.
160
grasses, fruits, and vegetables began to change from the government to private
companies. At mid century, because farmers were responsible for experimenting with
seeds, and there were no guarantees to their success, the government distributed seeds
free of charge. Private seed companies at this time sold to the specialized markets of
vegetable and flower gardens, and this despite a government distribution of
approximately 2.5 million vegetable and flower seeds in 1861. Most of the substantial
cash crop varieties came from the farmers themselves, and the informal trading networks
among them constituted the seed market. Then in 1883 the American Seed Trade
Association was formed as a response to the heightening importance of California's fruit
and vegetable industry, an industry where the private seed companies might be able to
compete with the government. The Secretary of Agriculture in 1893 - J. Sterling Morton
- recognized the trend to privatization, and tried to end the free distribution of seeds,
claiming that the distribution of "new, rare, valuable, or other seed should be left entirely
in the hands of the branch of industry to which it lawfully belongs."78 While it took some
time for the government to stop distributing free seeds, the penetration of private seed
industry began in the 1890s.
Buying seeds that were the best suited for their particular soil, climatic, and
disease conditions was part of the technological revolution in agriculture that is so often
overshadowed by the story of farm machinery. Assigning all the different activities it
takes to grow food to a certain set of machines was only one way to industrialize
agriculture. The other way was to commodify the seeds themselves, making constant
This quote and much of the information in this paragraph are from Kloppenburg, 1988: pp. 62-65.
161
improvements and variations for sale. The relationship between modern science and the
rapid turnover of wheat (and other seed) varieties has its roots in the late nineteenth
century.79 When farmers started ordering seeds from warehouses that cataloged and
archived seed varieties they were reshaping their fields in the image of the factory-like
precision of seed warehouses themselves. To make fields that were full, healthy, and
uniform at harvest time, farmers increasingly relied on companies like the Harry
Hammond Seedsman distributor in Fifield, Michigan (figure 42).
Figure 42. "Annual Catalog of Harry N Hammond, Seedsman," 1900 Fifield, Michigan. This image is
the seed shipping department. The catalog was published by the Review & Herald Publishing Co. in Battle
Creek. (Image courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.)
Hammond claims that he has the fastest maturing vegetable seeds, and the seeds that will
produce the greatest yield, an attractive claim to farmers who are under economic
pressure. Connecting this distributor to the Battle Creek Sanitarium means that we first
Alan L. Olmstead and Paul W. Rhode. 2008. Creating Abundance: Biological innovation and American
agricultural development. New York: Cambridge University Press; p. 28.
162
have to know what exactly was served at sanitarium meals. Figure 43 is an inventory of
the foods consumed at the sanitarium over the course of a typical year.
Apples
Apricots
Bananas
Dates
Figs
Lemons
Oranges
Peaches
Pears
Plums
Prunes
Tomatoes . . . . .
Grapes
Grape juice . .
Apple juice . . .
Pears (canned) .
Peaches (canned)
Plums (canned) .
1,959 bu.
1,418 lbs.
1,392 b'dles.
2,346 lbs.
7,246 lbs.
477 boxes.
534 boxes.
i,oi6bu.
Berries
Berry juice . .
Beans
Peas
Potatoes
Eggs
Nut foods . . .
Malted Nuts
212 bu.
Meltose
279 cases.
Buns
5.871 lbs.
Bread
16,464 quarts. Granose biscuit . . .
20,515 lbs.
Water breads
8,750 quarts, Flaked cereals
29,524 quarts. Granola and granuto. .
63 cases.
Zwieback
9,072 quarts. Cereal coffee
1,788 quarts. Gluten meal and flour.
37.632 quarts.
1,625 quarts.
11,042 lbs.
11,684 lbs.
4.585 bu.
44.643 doz.
1,374 cases.
5.882 lbs.
14,242 lbs.
5.542 doz.
67,698 loaves.
6,821 lbs.
15,SH lbs.
332 cases.
2,688 lbs.
27,877 lbs.
3,137 lbs.
«.566 lbs.
Figure 43. Inventory of annual consumption at the sanitarium, by food, 1908. (Image reproduced from
Kellogg, 1908: p. 138.)
The source of these foods depends on the amount consumed, and the climate they require
to be grown. Many of the fruits and vegetables, like apples, tomatoes, grapes, berries,
beans, peas, and potatoes, were products of the sanitarium itself. "Much of the
[sanitarium's] food was either grown in on-site greenhouses or purchased under contract
from farms approved by Kellogg" (figure 44). 80
80
Patsy Gerstner. 1996. The Temple of Health: A Pictorial History of The Battle Creek Sanitarium.
Caduceus 12 (2); pp. 33-34.
163
^ 1 1 , ~^tf< ^ * ^' ^
Figure 44. The Sanitarium greenhouse, interior and exterior, 1908. (Image reproduced from Kellogg,
1908: p. 128.)
There was even a sanitarium mill, where grains were ground into flour.81 The sanitarium
also operated a number of farms off campus. By 1900 the sanitarium had acquired nearly
Note from W.K. Kellogg to A.S. Kellogg, May 5, 1899. From the John H. Kellogg Papers, "Food
Experiments" folders. Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections, East Lansing, Mich.
164
400 acres of farm land near Goguac Lake, providing the sanitarium with "a constant
supply of milk products, eggs, fruits, and vegetables" (figure 45) 82
.;fe-:
' *||!^%fe;., -:-
•>-'"(••
:
~\---,: ty
. *&itefe&t**x*s> •' - A .'% ********
n M i f i f urT
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Figure 45. One of the sanitarium farms near Goguac Lake, 1908. (Image reproduced from Kellogg, 1908:
p. 202.)
The use of the greenhouse and the farms near Goguac Lake was important to Kellogg; he
was wary of foods that were shipped in from other places, that did not meet his standards
of cleanliness.
The use of lettuce, celery, and some other fresh vegetables as supplied in market
is always attended, as Metchnikoff has clearly shown, with more or less risk of
parasitic infection because of the careless use of night soil and other fertilizers by
market gardeners. Such products, when not obtained from the Sanitarium gardens
or greenhouses, are always sterilized in the kitchen by immersion in boiling hot
water before serving. It is a help to the invalid's appetite to know that the table
delicacies placed before him are thoroughly clean.83
" Richard W. Schwarz. 1965. John Harvey Kellogg: American health reformer. Dissertation, History,
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; p. 184.
" Kellogg, 1908: p. 138, emphasis added.
165
On the right side of figure 46 are drawers in the Hammond mail order department that
reach about fifteen feet toward the ceiling.
Figure 46. Hammond Seedsman Mail Order Department, 1900. (Image courtesy of the Bentley
Historical Library, University of Michigan.)
In these drawers are housed the seed varieties of plants ranging from potatoes, to
cabbage, to asparagus, to strawberries, to lettuce, and oats, to name a few. The inset in
the upper right hand portion of the image shows women filling the orders by retrieving
the seeds from their appropriate home, and "packeting" them for shipment. It is
unknown, but likely that the sanitarium ordered seeds from this Fifield, Michigan
distributor, as the Hammond catalog was printed by the Adventist publishing house in
Battle Creek, the Review & Herald. Hammond's was a business that had literally and
completely cataloged nature into different cells, each one with a label, yield
166
measurements, maturing speed, and of course, price. As Latour describes in his
discussion on the "circulating reference," botanical varieties took on this new commercial
meaning as objects in a market. The labels on the outside of those drawers in the seed
warehouse became referents to particular organisms, experiments, and soil qualities from
which the seeds came (figure 47).84
HAMONrS PLANT DEPAITMENT.
J h a \ o f^ftiiiM-fiuJjij.i'dUreentKttiMMsl
Carnation, t hryaattUientiiMn,
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gtvwil
f»jfl, iMiywn
ttalied m*t<es> »
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in ft separate
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we think you are ready 1
wh«n danger ot tasKdnst nISOT
~.
perlenced foreman la at the m
Figure 47. The Hammond seed manufacturing plant, 1900. Labels on the drawers of the seed warehouse
refer to this growing environment of greenhouses, not that of a farm field. (Image courtesy of the Bentley
Historical Library, University of Michigan.)
Fruits and vegetables grown at the sanitarium farms and greenhouses - which would
reform the shape of digestive systems - were connected with this seed industry at the
Fifield seed farm. When John Kellogg talks about the constitution of bodily organs and
their cells that are made through food consumption, then materially and symbolically the
digestive systems of the sanitarium guests were made up of this privatized and cataloged
germplasm. The digestive system was part of an assemblage that included a
Bruno Latour. 1999. Pandora's Hope Essays on the reality of science studies. Cambridge. Harvard
University Press; pp. 24-31.
167
"bookkeepers" view (Latour's term) of the natural world. But in addition to being a part
of this material assemblage, digestive systems at the sanitarium were also privatized in
much the same way that seeds were privatized because they fell under the expensive gaze
of Dr. Kellogg. He, like the companies that made and sold seeds, was appropriating a
part of the body, the digestive system, to be able to scrutinize it with an amount of detail
that allowed him to concoct all sorts of treatments and cures. Opening the "black box" of
digestion was profitable to the Kelloggs, in the same way that opening the black box of
seeds was profitable to private, "appropriating" seed companies.
168
Chapter 6: Breakfast Cereal in the Twentieth Century and Conclusions
That the eating habits of the American public have been materially modified is
evidenced by the fact that thirty to forty carloads of toasted flaked cereals are
being eaten daily under various names in the United States alone, and the
consumption is steadily increasing and is rapidly extending to foreign countries.
The story of breakfast cereal changes dramatically after William Kellogg - the
younger brother of John Kellogg - gained control of the Sanitas Nut Food Company that
had been associated with the sanitarium from 1890-1908.2 There is much to tell about the
story of breakfast cereal before the decade of the 1890s as well. As with most inventions,
it was not the Kellogg brothers after all who invented dry cereal. That distinction
typically falls to James C. Jackson, who at his water-cure sanatorium in Dansville, New
York started serving "Granula" in 1863. As one rendition has it,
The preferred method was to put about one-third glassful of Granula into a water
glass and fill it with whole milk, then set it in the icebox overnight. In the
morning, the glass was completely full of soaked Granula, and the top section was
largely risen cream. This glassful was stirred and put into a cereal dish, then
served with sugar and cream to taste.
The connection between the Dansville water-cure and the Battle Creek Sanitarium was
the Adventist leader Ellen White, who had stayed with Jackson before instructing John
Kellogg on how to operate the sanitarium in its early years. Granula made the migration
west with White, and the Kelloggs took it from there.
' John Kellogg. 1908. The Battle Creek Sanitarium System: History, organization, methods. Battle Creek,
MI. Gage Printing Co.; p. 137.
" Gerald Carson. 1957. Cornflake Crusade. New York: Rinehart & Co.; p. 108.
Carson, 1957. p. 67.
169
During the first decade of the twentieth century Battle Creek was home to an
astounding number of factories, comprised of industries in steam pumps, breweries
(including Anheuser-Busch), flour milling, furniture, printing, farm machinery, and
health food.4 At this point, however, cereal companies represented only a fraction of the
overall industrial economy in Battle Creek. Food companies, while not the mainstay of
the city's economy yet, rapidly multiplied with the growing success of the Battle Creek
place name, which was becoming a code word for health food throughout the nation.
Indeed, "from 1900-1915 over eighty cereal companies came into and went out of
business in Battle Creek."6 The American Pure Food Company, Battle Creek Breakfast
Food Company, Battle Creek Cereal Food Company, Battle Creek Flaked Food
Company, Battle Creek Pure Food Company, Battle Creek Food Company, and the Battle
Creek Food Products Company are only a small sampling of the seemingly endless
variations of business start-ups that used the geographical indicator of Battle Creek in an
attempt to sell their version of health foods to a national market for the new trend in
breakfast eating.7 They sold products with names as equally strange-sounding as those
used by Kellogg, such as Grain-O, Navy Bean Cereal, Zest Flaked Cereal, Flak-Ota
Flaked Cooked Oat Food, Malta Vita, Grape Sugar Flakes, Egg-O-See, and Ce-Re-O-La.
Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1905-06 Vol XXIV Detroit R L Polk & Co ,
Battle Creek, Albion, Marshall, Etc Directory 1896 Detroit R.L Polk & Co
Larry B Massie and Peter J Schmitt 1984 Battle Creek The place behind the products Woodland Hills,
CA Windsor Publications, p 7
6
Battle Creek Sesquicentennial Book Committee 1980 Battle Creek 150 Sesquicentennial, 1831-1981
Battle Creek, Mich Embossing Printers, p 25.
101 and We've Just Begun Cereal manulacturmg companies in Battle Creek 1992 Heritage Battle
Creek A journal of local history 2 (Spring) 51-56
170
These companies mimicked not only the products produced by Kellogg's, but also by
their chief contemporary rival, Charles Post as well. Kellogg's and Post would together
through the early decades of the twentieth century give Battle Creek its present-day title
of "Cereal City." The "imposters," as they were called by the Kelloggs, were so
numerous that at one point around 1905 John T. McCutcheon published a satirical
cartoon about the entire issue (figure 48).
Surrounded by over one hundred competitors, how did Kellogg's emerge as the
most prominent? Starting in the mid-1890s John Kellogg could not keep the Sanitas Nut
Food Company profitable. He was uninterested in developing a single product, then
mass marketing it as the hundred others were trying to do. While it may be true that
Battle Creek "brought the advertising business out of its infancy," it was certainly not due
to the work of John Kellogg.8 By 1902 Sanitas was losing money, prompting William
Kellogg to call his doctor brother "the best disorganizer in the world."9 Answering the
question of how the Kellogg brothers emerged from this is a story of branding and
advertising that began when William Kellogg took over the business aspect of the
sanitarium's food company.
8
Sesquicentennial, 1980: p. 8.
9
Carson, 1957: p. 197.
171
,,-?i'GB0M3
•» !•%'••I.* I
H^VV *i.
m
-W^*
:
> * i , .*"9<«f
Figure 48. Around 1905 the Chicago Tribune cartoonist James T. McCutcheon published this image,
showing the ultra competitive Battle Creek health food boom in the early twentieth century. (Image
reproduced from Horace B. Powell. 1956. The Original Has This Signature - W.K. Kellogg: The story of a
pioneer in industry and philanthropy. Battle Creek, Mich.: W.K. Kellogg Foundation; p. 100.)
Recognizing that hoards of competitors were capitalizing on the reputation John
Kellogg had developed at the sanitarium, it was becoming clear to William that the health
clinic and the food company should be moving in different directions. John Kellogg was
under pressure from the American Medical Association to avoid excessive
commercialization, a warning that he took seriously since he was already under a
172
watchful eye due to his "unorthodox" practices of hydrotherapy and massage.10 But
William consistently encouraged branding the Kellogg name, a claim to authenticity that
would serve to compete with the other food companies emerging in Battle Creek.
William threatened to leave many times, but felt committed to aid the rebuilding process
after a 1902 fire burned the sanitarium to the ground (figure 49).
Figure 49. Remnants of the sanitarium after the February 1902 fire. (Image courtesy of the Loma Linda
University Archives and Special Collections.)
John Kellogg recognized that to save the reputation of his health establishment in the
eyes of the Medical Association, it was "best to dispose, if possible, of the toasted corn
flakes, so as to relieve the Sanitarium."11 After years of tedious courtroom litigation
between the brothers, in 1906 William won control of the Sanitas Nut Food Company,
10
Carson, 1957: p. 198.
11
Carson, 1957: p. 199.
173
separated its affiliation with the sanitarium, and renamed it the Battle Creek Toasted Corn
Flake Company. The use of corn to make flaked cereals was less than 10 years old at this
point, and risky considering that consumer preferences were centered on wheat. Under a
new name, a commodity was born, and with it a new essence of flaked cereal. By 1908,
under William's supervision, Kellogg's Corn Flakes had completely severed its ties with
the health food industry created by John Kellogg. William Kellogg removed the image
of the sanitarium from the box, and emphasized claims to aesthetics, simplicity, and taste
over the curative, digestive properties of flaked grains.
Why Corn Now?
William Kellogg's decision to use corn instead of wheat is tied with the changing
nature of the agricultural industry. As early as 1860 the general structure of food
production that we know today as the corn-based agricultural economy was taking shape
in the U.S. Changing tastes on the urbanizing east coast created a large demand for meat,
and it was in the Midwest where much of the pork was produced to meet this demand. In
1860 the rail networks had not yet been fully developed, so farmers would sell their grain
to distributors who would then ship it on river ways to Cincinnati. It was here where
some of the earliest prototypes of feedlots were developed, earning Cincinnati the
nickname "porkopolis." Even at this early point in the development of the U.S.
agricultural economy, corn had already taken a role as a fattening agent for meat12
Carson, 1957: p. 207.
174
11
providing animals. "
In 1860 most of the corn in the U.S. was grown in the southern part of the
Midwest, and into the south. Tennessee, Kentucky, and southern Indiana led in corn
production. It was not until the 1880s and 1890s when the great corn migration to the
north began. While farmers in upper Midwest states such as Michigan, Ohio, Illinois,
Iowa, and Wisconsin had been growing corn as well up to that point, the landscape was
mostly dominated by acreages of wheat. In this period a relatively large number of
farmers in the upper Midwest were still operating under the New Husbandry model of
agriculture, using part of their land for subsistence, and part of their land for market
commodity production. By 1900, however, after a number of depression years in the
1890s that were marked by "the discontent of the farmer,"14 farmers were increasingly
economically forced to plant their fields for market. By 1900 farmers who did not
maximize yields of the crop that had the highest market value found it nearly impossible
to make enough money to buy the necessary goods and services even to keep the farm in
operation, let alone to buy things that families needed for everyday life.
Understanding why upper Midwestern farmers began replacing wheat with corn
means also understanding the region that neighbors the upper Midwest: the Great Plains
(including Dakota, western Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Kansas). Wheat
farmers realized that with cheaper land prices they could migrate to the Great Plains and
have bigger land holdings. It was economically advantageous to mass produce wheat in
1
Willard Cochrane. 1979. The Development of American Agriculture: A historical analysis. Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota Press; pp. 91-92.
14
Edward W. Bemis. 1893. The Discontent of the Farmer. The Journal of Political Economy 1 (2):193-213.
175
these areas because of the availability and cost of land there in the mid- to late-nineteenth
century. This economic factor that pulled wheat to the west, however, left a hole in the
upper Midwest. The market value of corn dictated to land managers, owners, and farmers
that they should plant corn to turn a profit in these regions, since if they kept planting
wheat they would be undercut by the Great Plains farmers. And plant corn they did. It
was the categorization of corn as something with potential exchange value at the Chicago
board of trade - ultimately to feed the beef and pork industries - that flooded the upper
Midwest with corn and turned it into an "ocean" of undifferentiated commodity that we
still see today.1'
In Sidney Mintz's geographical history of sugar he tells how it played a
significant role in feeding the new industrial working class, in line with Atwater's
research. But Mintz also tells how the relationship between metropoles and their colonies
changed with the way sugar was tasted by the powerful.16 Moving from a rare and unsought-after medicine to a luxury item, and finally to ubiquity, its path is in many ways
like that of breakfast cereal at Battle Creek. The methodological lesson of Mintz's story
is that we can use the consumption of foods as markers for changes in the ecology of
food production. Due to the changing meaning of sugar at the consumption end, a
motivation for overseas agricultural experiments emerged at the production end,
dramatically affecting landscapes and ecologies throughout European colonies. At the
^ William Cronon. 1991. Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. New York: W.W. Norton; p.
145.
' Sidney W. Mintz. 1986. Sweetness and Power: The place of sugar in modern history. New York:
Penguin Books.
176
consumption end, the item of sugar had been transformed from a luxury to a necessity,
which "embodies both the promise and fulfillment of capitalism itself."17 Kellogg's
breakfast cereal story can be thought of in similar terms. Beginning as a medicine with
low-volume production, William Kellogg latched the product to new practices in mass
marketing strategies, and of equal importance, to a new form of capitalist agricultural
economy that drove the price of corn down and its availability up, responding to and
encouraging changes in consumer tastes.
Advertising
Under William Kellogg's new control of the food company, and a steady, cheap
supply of corn, advertising would be another major mainstay of the business' success,
with unprecedented percentages of revenue devoted to marketing. Figure 50 is an
advertisement from 1915, the year in which William's advertising expenditures exceeded
$1 million for the first time, a figure that would only increase.
17
Mintz, 1986: p. 196.
177
Figure 50. An advertisement from the Kellogg Toasted Corn Flake Company, 1915. Use of the "Waxtite"
packaging is proclaimed on the side of the box. Allusions to the sanitarium and health food had been
removed by this point in time. (Image courtesy of the Duke University Libraries' Digital Collections "Emergence of Advertising in America, 1850-1920.")
His innovations in advertising were based on ruthless aggressiveness, risk-taking, and
enormous capital investment. Causing the biggest stir was the 1910s ad that asked
housewives to "wink" at the grocer, presuming he would know she wanted Corn Flakes,
with the suggestion that maybe she wanted something else. Another long-standing
campaign that daringly used sex appeal was a series of ads that pictured the "Sweetheart
of the Corn" (figure 51).
178
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Figure 51. The "Sweetheart of the Corn," with the original "sweetheart" pictured in the inset. (Image
reproduced from Life Magazine, July 21, 1958. Courtesy of Garth "Duff Stoltz, local historian, Battle
Creek, Mich.)
Other revolutionary campaigns included sending young women dressed as the Sweetheart
of the Corn to food shows where they would pass out samples; mail-in baby picture
contests; traveling canvassers who announced the arrival of Corn Flake shipments to
towns where they passed out free samples (figure 52); premiums, games on the box, cutouts, and package inserts for kids and teenagers; contests for grocers; men dressed up as
ears of corn and cereal boxes wearing the Kellogg's colors of red, white, and green; and
ads that used reverse psychology, begging people to stop eating Corn Flakes so that their
friends and neighbors could have some.
179
Figure 52. The briefcase of a Kellogg's traveling canvasser, who would pass out these free samples, aiding
an early twentieth-century revolution in advertising, ca. 1915. (Image reproduced from Sesquicentennial,
1980: p. 24.)
More extravagantly William erected a large electric sign in New York's Time Square
with tears falling from the cheeks of a boy whose Corn Flakes bowl was empty. By
1931, as radio became nearly ubiquitous in American culture, extensive use of radio
advertising was seized by the Toasted Corn Flake Company, using the voice of the
"Singing Lady" on NBC's station.18 Then with the advent of television advertising,
Kellogg's was again at the forefront of innovation. In a 1950s television advertisement
18
The list of advertising strategies is from Carson, 1957: pp. 209-210.
180
for Corn Flakes, the early Superman actor George Reeves promotes the benefits of eating
the breakfast cereal.19
The Place Name of Battle Creek
The "Sweetheart of the Corn" advertisement (figure 52) shows the long-standing
attachment to place that has been used by the Kellogg corporation in it selfrepresentation. It is part of the authentication and differentiation process - not just the
signature, but the place of production as well. Whether true or not when this ad was
printed in 1958 - as there were factories all around the world by then - this dissertation
has shown the background of the image of a food product rooted in place - a background
that shows us how quite materially a food whose very consumption and assimilation into
the body was dependent on the regional technologies surrounding the food's place of
production.
Unlike most stories in current scholarship of political ecology, the story of cereal
in Battle Creek does not depend on political economic forces as drivers of the story. The
methods and lessons about nature-society relationships that can be usefully gleaned from
"environmental" geography and political ecology are used here without the usual a priori
placement of economics as the causal mechanism, or justification of relevance, for how
techno-nature-body hybrids come into being. We know this because it was not John
19
Television advertisement viewed by the author on May 14, 2008 at the Paley Center for Media in
Beverly Hills, Calif.
181
Kellogg, but his brother William Kellogg, who in 1906 rather forcefully took control of
the sanitarium's food and health business and turned it into a multi-national corporation.
Because of medical ethics, the Doctor refused to allow his name to be associated
with the foods.... The Doctor was a conservative in business matters and was
opposed to large-scale national advertising, permitting the new flakes and other
goods to be advertised only in the Good Health magazine, in the Battle Creek
Idea and by direct mail to former patients. These restrictions chafed at the innate
and developing business talents of Will Kellogg."
One of the most amazing things about this story is that John Kellogg was able to
galvanize and channel a variety of popular and scientific concerns about nutrition,
disease, city life, and agriculture, and transform those concerns into artifacts - health
foods. William Kellogg was able to take those artifacts and transform them into
commodities, commodities that represented a solution, a way to act responsibly for one's
health and longevity, but also, and more importantly for William, a way to satisfy a desire
for something safe, economical, and convenient. The United States Pure Food and Drug,
and Meat Inspection Acts were both passed in 1906, months after Upton Sinclair's
muckraking exposition of the American meat industry was published.21 Public concern
over food adulteration, and sanitary conditions at the source of food processing was
widespread and powerful. William Kellogg's Waxtite packaging, clean, tidy boxes, and
the tradition of health attached to the Battle Creek place name assuaged those fears, and
were responsible for much of the early success of the Toasted Corn Flake Company. It
was the way John Kellogg conceived of the stomach that turned food into health food,
and thus helped his brother William Kellogg market their grain-based commodity food
20
Powell, 1956: pp. 92-93.
182
cures nation-wide. In essence they were selling a vision of the process of digestion inside
the body - a body that could be ameliorated with the consumption of their mass-produced
health food products, relieving disease and preparing the body for enlightened living on
Earth.
Food Processing Revolution
In addition to its contributions to the advertising industry, the Kellogg's
corporation revolutionized mechanical food processing. The rollers in the sanitarium
- where the first "pre-digested" flaked cereal was made - were the beginning of what
would become a progression of food processing machinery that met the developing
needs of the Kellogg corporation's changing product innovations (figure 53). These
innovations spread to other food manufacturers, and foreshadowed a century that saw
the nature of food markets change from mostly perishable, local sources to prepackaged, preserved, "sterile," boxed products that could be transported long
distances." "Look at any type of food production, particularly processing, and it will
be seen that much of the impetus came from Battle Creek."
21
Upton Sinclair. 1906. The Jungle. New York: Penguin Books.
Andrew F. Smith. 2009. Eating History: 30 turning points in the making of American cuisine. New York:
Columbia University Press.
21
Powell, 1956: p. 182.
183
Figure 53. "Krumbles" processing machines, ca. 1910 at the Kellogg Toasted Cornflake Company.
(Image reproduced from Sesquicentennial, 1980: p. 23.)
Often times William Kellogg would invent new machinery concurrently with the
design of new health food products, implying that if a hopeful new product could not
be mass produced with a relatively simple set of machines, it would not be developed
at all. The ability of a food design to fit into the range of "affordances" that
technology could provide in large part determined whether or not it would come to
exist.24 William Kellogg was convinced that the single most important aspect of mass
Ian Hutchby. 2001. Technologies, Texts and Affordances. Sociology 35 (2):441-456.
184
producing foods is keeping them fresh. If foods were to be shipped and sold to
customers covering a wide geographical expanse, then maintaining the crispness and
flavor of baked and malted grains would require technological developments in
packaging. The most successful development in came in the form of the "Waxtite"
package, which was eventually contracted out to the U.S. government for their "Krations" during World War II.25
The pairing of milk and cereal
The now-common union of breakfast cereal with milk is not a coincidence. While
cereals were initially made to physically clean out, and morally purify the body, milk was
concurrently being made as the single "perfect food" for Americans. 6 Claims to the
perfection of milk began as early as 1834 with Prout's Chemistry, Meteorology, and the
Function of Digestion.
Believing that milk could be the single savior to problems of
nutrition was, however, not obvious. As physicians and public health workers discovered
that milk could carry germs for diseases such as typhoid fever and diphtheria, sanitation
became a paramount concern surrounding the production and consumption of milk. By
the 1890s, some 30 years after its invention, pasteurization had become a key process in
the certification of milk for a product that was riddled with a paradox that came to be
25
Powell, 1956: p. 184.
26
E. Melanie DuPuis. 2002. Nature's Perfect Food: How milk became America's drink. New York: New
York University Press.
~7 William Prout. 1834. Chemistry, Meteorology, and the Function of Digestion: Considered with reference
to natural theology. London: W. Pickering. From DuPuis, 2002: p. 69.
185
known as "the milk question," which was "how do we provide ourselves with the
98
necessary food without being poisoned by it?"
If milk was to retain its status of
perfection, it would have to be squeezed into the prevailing ideas of a pure, clean,
hygienic food. Historical roots of the confusion inherent in "the milk question"
paralleled John Kellogg's contradictory discourse on milk at the sanitarium. He wrote,
for example, that cows with "impure" blood produce milk that carries the impurities of
"foul air" from the stable. "One half the deaths among the young are directly traceable to
poisonous milk; and yet thousands of people, especially in our large cities, are daily
exposing themselves and their children to the possibility of fatal poisoning."29 Yet five
years later he claimed that "milk contains the different elements of nutrition in proper
proportion, and will sustain life for an indefinite period.... It is, indeed, with rare
exceptions, a most wholesome food for persons of all ages."30 Transitioning milk from a
potential poison to "the perfect food" was done with such precision by urban reformers,
medical professionals, and dairy cooperatives that the change was reflected in Kellogg's
rhetoric, and in the contents of sanitarium guests' stomachs.31 The creation of perfect
milk went hand in hand with Kellogg's philosophy of health. Through one of the few
advertising and government-led public health campaigns of its scope that pre-dated the
humungous private advertising campaigns of Kellogg's cereals at the turn of the century,
28
DuPuis, 2002: p. 74.
29
John Kellogg. 1891. The Household Monitor of Health. Battle Creek, MI: Good Health Publishing Co.;
p. 126.
John Kellogg. 1896. The Stomach: Its disorders and how to cure them. Battle Creek, MI: Modern
Medicine Publishing Co.; p. 35.
186
milk had been engrained as a healthy food that everyone should consume to stay healthy.
Given Kellogg's repulsion of meat and animal "filth," it comes as a surprise that even his
often contrarian dietetics frequently included the ever-popular milk. Even other dairy
products such as cheese did not win the favor of John Kellogg. His adaptation of the
"perfect food" story that has been so ubiquitous in the American dietary rhetoric
regarding milk shows not only the enshrinement of milk's status in the stomachs of
Americans, but helps us to understand the pairing of milk with whole grain flakes of
wheat and corn.
Antimodernism and Modernism
By the end of the nineteenth century there had emerged a strong antimodernist
sentiment in American culture. Historian Jackson Lears describes this sentiment as a
"recoil from an 'overcivilized' modern existence to more intense forms of physical or
spiritual experience supposedly embodied in Medieval or Oriental cultures."32
Antimodernism is a term that encapsulates a reaction against tendencies of
rationalization, urbanization, efficiency, and secularization; in short, it worked against
what we see in Kellogg's understanding of digestion, Battle Creek's modernization of its
sanitary sewer system, and the scientization of agriculture at the experiment station in
Lansing. Pure, ordered, efficient, time- and purposed-driven places were viewed with
mistrust by the antimodernists. This trend is important to investigate because as its
11
DuPuis, 2002: p. 14.
T.J. Jackson Lears. 1981. No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the transformation of American
culture, 1880-1920. New York: Pantheon; p. xiii.
187
currents ran most swiftly in the upper-middle class, it would have affected some of the
sanitarium's constituency.
Both trends of modernization and antimodernism are represented simultaneously
at the sanitarium in the years preceding the end of the century. John Kellogg's
quantification of diet and digestion are primary examples I have used to highlight how
modernization was manifested at the sanitarium. In addition to measuring the
composition and ratios of food elements such as fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, John
Kellogg developed time charts for exactly how long food should remain in the body
(figure 54). However, these modernizing trends occurred at the sanitarium in the context
of a paradigm shift that was moving away from more traditional, environmental
explanations of health. The 1890s, perhaps more than any other decade, is a period in
which discourses from these two large trends intermingled with relative ease. Thus the
antimodernist sentiments of nostalgia and longing were not out of place in such
confusion, especially for the sanitarium's elite urban clientele, who would have been
exposed to enough "modernism" to support a backlash in the first place. A trip to the
western lands of semi-rural Michigan was a movement back in time for many guests, to a
perceived simpler and better time. But this movement back in time - as nostalgia is wont
to be - remembered only the best attributes and discarded the undesirable parts."" It
made sense, then, that Kellogg's scientific, modernizing practices were able to meld so
effectively with the escape from modernity that the sanitarium also offered.
David Lowenthal. 1985. The Past is a Foreign Country. New York: Cambridge University Press; p. 7.
188
Figure 54. The movement of three meals through the digestive system, color coded to represent the
position of each respective meal in the body, corresponding with the time of day, 1928. (Image
reproduced from the Diet Service Department of the Battle Creek Food Company, "Diet Helps for
Doctors." Courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.)
Wood splitting, jogging, camping, and boating, for example, were all activities
undertaken between sessions of gastric juice analysis, colonic machine enemas, electric
and water therapy, and prescription meals.
Anti-Modernism and the Non-Naturals
Another helpful way to understand anti-modernism at the sanitarium is to study
Kellogg's medical philosophy which drew from ancient as well as modern, scientific
189
beliefs. The doctrine of the non-naturals reflects ideas about health, and was an
inspiration for Liebig's work - the study of metabolism. A doctrine best explained by
James Whorton, I quote him at length here.
Non-naturals was the somewhat confusing term that had been used for centuries
to categorize the various components of behavior and environment that one had to
regulate so as to live in accord with nature. In the classic formulation, they
comprised air, food and drink, sleep and watch, motion and rest, evacuation and
repletion, and passions of the mind. Derived from everyday experience and
common sense, the non-naturals simply recognized that people needed a
wholesome atmosphere to breathe, adequate food, sleep, and exercise, regular
elimination of waste, and emotional equanimity. That was the meaning of the
word hygiene in the nineteenth century: adherence to the doctrine of the nonnaturals.34
The six categories of the non-naturals represent the flow of matter through the body, and
therefore relate the consciousness of a material connection between humans and the
environment. Liebig was among the first to apply a systematized, quantified, mechanical,
causal language to this material interchange, from which would influence not only the
agricultural experiment stations and human nutrition, but also the emergence of the field
of ecology.' ~ As classically defined in the non-naturals, people were unavoidably
exposed to each of the six characteristics at all times. Since they were unavoidable and
recognized as activities that everyone did, it became the role of the physician to restore
any imbalances in any of the six main categories. This is how medicine was practiced,
and how health - and unhealthiness - were defined. Imbalances of the non-naturals were
James Whorton. 2000. Inner Hygiene: Constipation and the Pursuit of Health in Modern Society. New
York: Oxford University Press; p. 31.
' ""' Anna Bramwell. 1989. Ecology in the 20th Century: A history. New Haven: Yale University Press; pp.
74-75.
190
used as an explanation for someone who felt ill or in pain, but were also used as moral
guidance for people who were afraid of becoming ill or in pain. Dietetic, sexual, and
exercise directives, for example, fall into the latter use. Preventative and practiced
medicine cane together in the use of the non-naturals. At the middle of the nineteenth
century the language of the non-naturals began to be replaced by the language of science.
While the ideas remained, a rationalized hygienic philosophy, often marked by
quantification and microscopic analysis, began to twist the ideas of the non-naturals into
medical specialties which would gain popular acceptance by the end of the century.
It was the habits of modern urban life that were wrecking the stomach. What
makes Kellogg's story so interesting, though, was the moments of ambivalence. He at
once wanted to cure with a philosophy of "non-naturals" and with a philosophy of
modern science. This ambivalence is reflected in the analysis of a 1930s urban
geographer.
The sanitarium's reputation, which has helped to make Battle Creek so well
known, is not based primarily upon the practice of a specialized surgery and
medicine, bur rather upon what is termed 'healthful living.' This includes proper
rest, food, and exercise. It is, therefore, the many minor and not the major
ailments of mankind which the sanitarium specializes in treating, although it does
maintain a well-equipped surgical and medical staff.36
Whorton further normalizes Kellogg's attitude: "one of the distinguishing marks of
Western culture since the Enlightenment is precisely this ambivalence about the
relationship of health to civilization."
7
Kellogg promoted what he called a hygienic
'H. Thompson Straw. 1938. Battle Creek: A study in urban geography. Unpublished Thesis, University of
Michigan, Ann Arbor; p. 83.
17
Whorton, 2000: p. 32, emphasis added.
191
philosophy of health, which rested on the notion that once disabused of the ignorance and
errors of living, patients would find an ambiguous combination of success, happiness,
and longevity. The genealogy of the hygienic philosophy can be drawn much further
back in time. "That ignorance and error are largely responsible for man's woes, including
I D
most of his physical ailments, is an ancient doctrine."" This empowered sanitarium
patients inasmuch as it gave them control over their own destiny; it was not a matter of
succumbing to the doctor's tools. If one could simply follow the dietary and therapeutic
programs outlined at the sanitarium, they would direct their body and spirit to goodness.
Moving Between Landscapes
In examining what happens between consumption and production I look at the
digestive system, the sanitarium building, the city of Battle Creek, and the agricultural
hinterlands of southern Michigan. Moving between these places means considering what
it is that moves between them? What parallels in the material world justify the
conceptual movements that I propose? Serres describes the movement between places as
being always parasitic. Noise, or static information, disrupts order in any given place,
and allows for an emergence of (temporary) order in another place.39 What were the
phenomena of "static" in Kellogg's ideal digestion process? What were the inevitable
moments of chaos that catapult us from one place of the story to another?
18
L.J. Rather. 1968. The 'Six Things Non-Natural': A note on the origins and fate of a doctrine and a
phrase. Clio Medica 3:337.
,9
Michel Serres. 1982. The Parasite. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
192
Asking what happens between consumption and production implies a spatial
journey between the digestive system and the places affected by it. To read the
significance of these other places I study the technologies housed (or produced) therein.
This story, in essence then, is spatial rather than temporal. It is a mapping of the
mechanical implements in each of their contexts. The mechanical implements chosen for
examination are those that bring us from place to place to follow consumption to
production. The implements, or technologies, all in one way or another affect how
digestion works at the sanitarium. We know that landscapes cannot be separated from
the technologies that produce them.40 It is in this sense that I use the term landscape - as
an artifact of a particular set of tools, of a particular method of altering and creating
environments. There is a congruence between the selected places in the geography of
digestion. This congruence is found in the manner in which its environments are altered.
Immediately proximate to the body is the environment of the sanitarium building. In the
building are housed technological extensions that make digestion possible. Further
removed spatially is the waste disposal system for the city of Battle Creek. Here we see
that the entire underground urban infrastructure was created to make a sanitary city. The
underground of the city was materially connected to digestion at the sanitarium, but the
look of the new sanitary city is also connected to the new body produced by the new
digestion. There are, therefore, both material and metaphorical links between sanitarium
bodies and the surrounding landscapes. Returning to the idea of noise, or static, the
David Nye, ed. 1999. Technologies of Landscape: From reaping to recycling. Amherst, MA: University
of Massachusetts Press.
193
question arises, at what exact points when we move between consumption and production
do the ruptures occur? What is the break in the system that requires us to switch our gaze
from the stomach to the sewer, for example?
1
The metabolism of the body must be
extended out to the metabolism of the built (including agricultural) environment. The
notion of metabolism and circulation of waste through bodies and environments is a
nineteenth century concept that described "material exchanges between organisms and
the environment as well as the bio-physical processes within living (and non-living, i.e.
decaying) entities."42
In Bruno Latour's formulation of actor network theory, he states that
we have to lay continuous connections leading from one local interaction to the
other places, times, and agencies through which a local site is made to do
something.... [W]hen you put some local site "inside' a larger framework, you
are forced to jump.... What would happen is we forbade any breaking or
tearing and allowed only bending, stretching, and squeezing?43
This passage helps to explain my portrayal of the geography of digestion. Latour offers
a methodology for integrating what geographers might refer to as a set of different
scales. Starting at a local site - the gastrointestinal tract in this case - and laying
connections to other places in order to uncover the meaning of that local site is very
much the geographical project here. This dissertation is intentionally organized into a
set of four scales - body, building, city, hinterland - not to keep them separated, but in
41
Jennifer Gabrys. 2009. Sink: The dirt of systems. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space
27:666-681.
42
Gabrys, 2009.
4
Latour, Bruno. 2005. Reassembling the Social: An introduction to actor-network-theory. New York:
Oxford University Press; p. 173.
194
order to show how they demand integration. A helpful distinction is made here between
a category of practice and one of analysis.
For the sake of an entry point, I adopt the
practical scalar categories of body, building, etc., but through the analysis we should
arrive at a take-home message that teaches us that bodies and organs cannot be thought
of as bound, isolated, and nested, but rather can be read from the landscapes that
surround us.
Latour goes on to warn, however, that thinking of a local site as inside larger
frameworks - what he calls context, and what others have referred to as nested scales forces a researcher to "jump" from one unit of analysis to another. The way to
theoretically erase the breaks, tears, or jumps in scale is to instead attempt to bend,
stretch, and squeeze the elements of a practical scale into one another. With digestion
this means, of course, that I have to look at the origins of food, the technologies and
ideologies related to its production, but also the excrement of human food waste. Where
does it go after the body is done with it? What are the technologies and ideologies
wrapped up in that process? Extending the food chain as it returns back into the city, the
river, the land, requires me to consider the role of the place of transformation - the
gastrointestinal tract. Understanding the digestive tract - and again, the technologies and
ideologies connected to it - plays a crucial role in bending the practical categories that
are so easy to keep intellectually separated.
See Rogers Brubaker. 1996. Nationalism Reframed: Nationhood and the national question in the new
Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press.
195
If you were to remember something from this dissertation - tomorrow as you're
eating your corn flakes - 1 would hope it might be this. If we start at the gastrointestinal
tract and trace outward, following the pathways of the objects and institutions related to
this place - a place that historical sociologist Melanie DuPuis has called "Enteria" - we
can map the boundaries of the body, showing us that it is actually a range of places,
practices, and beliefs.45 Our bodies are tied with the outside world in often unrevealed
ways, and paying attention to those connections gives us a clearer sense of where our
bodies end and the environment begins. With the intensification of scholarship in food
studies, I hope to have contributed a methodology that offers us a way to spatialize our
bodies so as to create a deeper understanding of the geographical consequences of human
health and eating.
41
E. Melanie DuPuis. 2009. A Place Called Enteria: The gastro-geopolitics of the colon. Paper read at
Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, March 22-27, at Las Vegas, NV.
196
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