Hello! I’m Dr. Anna Zeide (pronounced “AH-na ZAY-da”), Associate Professor of History and founding director of the Food Studies Program at Virginia Tech.
To take it way back: I grew up as the child of Russian-Jewish immigrants in rural southeast Arkansas, surrounded by trees.
I spent the last two years of high school at the state-funded residential Arkansas School for Mathematics and Sciences, and then moved on to college at Washington University in St. Louis. At Wash U, as an undergraduate, I studied biology, environmental studies, and writing. While pondering Ph. D. programs that brought my varied interests together, I earned a Master’s in Science Education, spending time in a range of St. Louis high school classrooms.
But the lure of the academy, along with my new-found interests in history of science and environmental history, took me to the University of Wisconsin. I brought my passion for food and agriculture to my dissertation on the history of canned food in America. My book based on this work, Canned: The Rise and Fall of Consumer Confidence in the American Food Industry was published in March 2018, with the University of California Press, California Studies in Food and Culture series. In 2019, it won the James Beard Award for Reference, History, and Scholarship. Read more about Canned.
From 2015-2020, I was a faculty member in the History Department at Oklahoma State University, where I also co-organized the OSU Food Studies program.
Now, at Virginia Tech, I’ve co-edited an anthology, Acquired Tastes: Stories about the Origins of Modern Foods (MIT Press, 2021); written a new book, US History in 15 Foods (Bloomsbury Press, 2023); and am working on a history of food waste and a family history project. Beyond those research ventures, I’m also building a new Food Studies program, housed in the Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences.