Technically humans started added chemicals to foods in prehistoric times when people added salt and smoke to meat in order to preserve it. In the late 1700s scientists started researching and discovering the different chemicals that make up food, with the idea of altering food to make it safer or more beneficial to the public. From the 1870s until the 1920s boric acid was used as a preservative until scientists began voicing that consuming too much could lead to failure of many of the digestive organs. Food additives carried a negative connotation until food shortages during World War II, when additives were reintroduced to make food last longer and (theoretically) enrich nutrition. This practice continued into the 1950s and boomed as the advances in food technology were created. At the same time social factors such as a demographic shift from farm to city or suburbia, an urge among entrepreneurs to increase their markets by shipping food farther, and the growing forces that would manifest into the 1960s women’s equal rights movement encouraged the integration of chemically processed foods into the common American diet.
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