On Bread and National Ruin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores a reactionary, and ultimately failed, medical dietary movement that sought to counter the influence of Western nutritional sciences at the turn of the twentieth century. Its supporters looked to the early modern past to create a vision of traditional Japanese foodways based on whole grains, unpolished rice, and locally grown vegetables, a nutritional regimen they called cerealism. In articulating a Japanese national diet, cerealism offered a new promise to not only recapture Japan's food culture but its national subjectivity by envisioning native eating habits that could build both superior physique and quality of character. The intrusion of the Western staples of bread and meat, supporters feared, could cause the downfall of the Japanese nation on bodily, spiritual, and economic grounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-324
Number of pages29
JournalAsian Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022


  • chemistry
  • diet
  • Japan
  • nationalism
  • nutrition
  • tradition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Complementary and alternative medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'On Bread and National Ruin'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this