Tasting Freedom

My book, Tasting Freedom: U.S. Occupied Germany and the Origins of Cold War Food Diplomacy, examines U.S. food relief in postwar Germany, tracing its development from military necessity to propaganda tool. The decision to feed the former enemy provided the foundation for an improved U.S.-German relationship and underscored the value of food power in the emerging contest with the Soviet Union. Yet existing scholarship fails to address the central question of why American policymakers and military leadership abandoned a punitive occupation and endorsed German relief. Popular memory reinforces this paradox, with scant attention paid to the early occupation when ration cuts, nutritional deficits, and hunger posed serious threats to public health, military security, and political stability.

Food aid was not a foregone conclusion, but a contested site of diplomacy and failing to adequately analyze American motives undervalues the significance of this policy change. This manuscript remedies that omission by exploring the symbolic power of foodstuffs alongside practical concerns over health, safety, and economic recovery. Bridging diplomatic history and food studies, it investigates the consequences and significance of the transnational food exchange. Tasting Freedom is under contract with the University of Virginia Press and will be published in 2025.