Monday, April 8, 2013

Protein? When did we start caring about that?


So I just finished reading “Unexploited Assests: Imperial Imagination, Practical Limitations, and Marine Fisheries Research in East Africa.”  It is Chapter 12 in the book “Science and Empire” and is a fascinating accounting of how scientific marine research struggled to get done in East Africa under British colonial rule.  One of the most intriguing claims it makes is that a perceived need for more protein in the diet of both colonial and indigenous populations was a key motivator for starting much fisheries and marine research at this time.  In Malawi this research was done as part of the Nyasaland Nutrition survey.
If this claim is true, it strikes me as begging a whole lot of other questions like:

When was protein discovered anyway?

When was it deemed desirable?

And why was there such a perceived shortage of it around that time?  Were all the cows dying?

Was this protein craze a phenomenon happening all over the world, or just in Africa?

Can we blame early nutritionists for the subsequent wholesale slaughter of world fisheries resources that followed?

Wouldn't it be fun to connect those dots?

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