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Researcher: Benjamin Cohen, Engineering Studies
DSS Partners: John Clark, James Griffin
Status: Initial maps and prototype complete

Project Description: The Pure Food Project developed by Professor Benjamin Cohen in Engineering Studies and EXCEL Student Matt Plishka ’15 in consultation with DSS, uses advanced GIS mapping technologies to examine the spread of food adulteration and contamination in the U.S. between 1860 and 1920. The project consists of maps that chart the growth of the production of specific adulterants, particularly cottonseed oil (an adulterant in olive oil and lard), and the mass production of oleomargarine. The maps reveal patterns of production, an increase in occurrences of adulteration over time, and public outcry through legislation.

The next phase of the project will include an interactive map that details the publication history of scientific studies on the practices of adulteration. Visible from the range of sample selections in the publications is that the concern over adulteration moves from a local issue, to one of global consequences as these practices become more widespread over time.