The Other Milk
Reinventing Soy in Republican China
- PUBLISHED: December 2018
- SUBJECT LISTING: Asian Studies / China, Food, History
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 288 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 11 b&w illus., 1 table
- ISBN: 9780295744032
In the early twentieth century, China was stigmatized as the “Land of Famine.” Meanwhile in Europe and the United States, scientists and industrialists seized upon the soybean as a miracle plant that could help build modern economies and healthy nations. Soybeans, protein-packed and domestically grown, were a common food in China, and soybean milk (doujiang) was poised for reinvention for the modern age. Scientific soybean milk became a symbol of national growth and development on Chinese terms, and its competition with cow’s milk reflected China’s relationship to global modernity and imperialism.
The Other Milk explores the curious paths that led to the notion of the deficient Chinese diet and to soybean milk as the way to guarantee food security for the masses. Jia-Chen Fu’s in-depth examination of the intertwined relationships between diet, health, and nation illuminates the multiple forces that have been essential in the formation of nutrition science in China.
Authors & Contributors
Jia-Chen Fu is assistant professor of Chinese at Emory University.
An excellent book for scholars interested in soy in particular, but also for those interested in food in general. It clearly traces the links between soybean milk production, nutrition scientists, and social issues to create new meanings and understanding about food, the body, and nationhood.- China Review International
The Other Milk presents a case study on the drink as a modern, science- and nation-building enterprise for these nutrition activists.- Food Anthropology
[A] fascinating intellectual history of soy in China from the early 1920s to the late 1930s. The key strength of the book is Fu’s success at challenging the dominant narrative of a ubiquitous nature of soy as an undeniable good for all.- Social History of Medicine
The Other Milk: Reinventing Soy in Republican China presents a prototype of the transition between animal and plant milk, albeit one that occurred in the other direction, and arguably more in aspiration than in reality. The Other Milk traces early twentieth century China’s newfound interest in soy milk (doujiang), a simple product of ground soybeans, and familiar feature of Chinese breakfasts.- Global Food History
[A] great read for historians of modern China and anyone who is curious about how diets are shaped by historical actors...The book is a generous contribution to the fields of Asian Studies and Food Studies, sharing the previously underexamined history of soy milk as an attempt to elevate Chinese nationhood via nutrition.- Asia Pacific Perspectives
Based on solid research Fu has provided us with a stimulating biography of soybean milk in China...The book also has plenty of fascinating details, intriguingliterary anecdotes and some thoughtful discussion of the entanglement of nutritional science and Chinese nationalism. In all, it is a valuable contribution to food history and to the history of science and medicine in modern China.- Bulletin of the History of Medicine
[S]killfully charts the transnational networks, political imperatives and social conditions that led to the rise and brief apotheosis of soy milk as the food of the future in Republican China.- China Quarterly
Fu does an excellent job at introducing us to a variety of lesser-known figures in Chinese history while also presenting the material in a way that is accessible to a general academic audience. The Other Milk is a satisfying dive into the world of soy that will appeal to those interested in Republican China, food history, and the history of science, technology, and medicine.- H-Environment
A creative and interdisciplinary approach to understanding how soybeans became a solution to the newly perceived nutritional deficiency of the Chinese diet during the late 1930s and early 1940s.- Daniel Asen, author of Death in Beijing: Murder and Forensic Science in Republican China
A pioneering work encompassing nutrition science and nationalism in the field of modern Chinese history.- Seung-joon Lee, author of Gourmets in the Land of Famine: The Culture and Politics of Rice in Modern Canton
Today soy milk is a fixture in every supermarket and every coffee shop, yet for hundreds of years after the Chinese discovered how to make it, it remained a minor food even in its homeland. In this delightful and timely book, Jia-Chen Fu weaves together stories about the ascent of milk in the western diet, growing Chinese anxiety about their traditional food supply, the tumultuous political changes in twentieth-century China, and the incorporation of soy beans on American farms to explain this global culinary revolution. Authoritative and fascinating.- Rachel Laudan, author of Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History
The Other Milk tells a fascinating story—how nutrition science transformed the place of soybeans in the Chinese diet from humble components of traditional cuisine to instruments of physical and social development, only to be replaced by dairy foods as markers of modernity. This book is a superb example of how cultural history, cuisine, science, and globalization intersect around one food—soybeans.- Marion Nestle, author of Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat
An outstanding contribution to food history, which exemplifies just how dynamic and vital the field has become. Soy milk will never look, or taste, the same.- Mark Swislocki, author of Culinary Nostalgia: Regional Food Culture and the Urban Experience in Shanghai