Supermarket USA: Food and Power in the Cold War Farms Race

November 1, 2020
Supermarket USA: Food and Power in the Cold War Farms Race

America fought the Cold War in part throughsupermarkets—and the food economy pioneered then has helped shapethe way we eat todaySupermarkets were invented in the United States, and from the1940s on they made their way around the world, often explicitly tocarry American†'style economic culture with them. This innovativehistory tells us how supermarkets were used as anticommunistweapons during the Cold War, and how that has shaped our currentfood system.The widespread appeal of supermarkets as weapons of freeenterprise contributed to a "farms race" between the United Statesand the Soviet Union, as the superpowers vied to show that theircontrasting approaches to food production and distribution werebest suited to an abundant future. In the aftermath of the ColdWar, U.S. food power was transformed into a global system of marketpower, laying the groundwork for the emergence of our contemporaryworld, in which transnational supermarkets operate as powerfulinstitutions in a global food economy.