Edwin Fremont Ladd: Pure Food Crusader

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Edwin Fremont Ladd: Pure Food Crusader  is not a light reading kind of book. There are facts and figures and photocopies of old documents and lots of legal speak. However, for those truly interested in the history of food legislation, this is a very interesting read!

Edwin Fremont Ladd: Pure Food Crusader

Edwin Fremont Ladd: Pure Food Crusader

Title: Pure Food Crusader: Edwin Fremont Ladd
Subtitle: The Pure Food Crusade for Sanitation and Health of the Nation and Its People
ISBN: 978-0805970968
Author: Culver S. Ladd
Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co. Inc
Genre: Biography
Pages: 57 (paperback)

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From the Back Cover:

Pure Food Crusader Edwin Fremont Ladd, Chemist, 1859-1925: The Pure Food Crusade for Sanitation and Health of the Nation and Its People traces the role of a leading figure in the movement to protect and regulate America’s food supply.

The quality and health problems that arose in the late nineteenth century have emerged once again with the threat of Mad Cow Disease and other contaminates, yet the laws enacted as a result of Chemist Ladd’s work-if properly administered and, most importantly, enforced-could have prevented this. This historical work serves as a reminder that all aspects of the farming and food industry must be approached with human life as the first concern.


About the Author:

Dr. Culver S. Ladd, grandson of Edwin Fremont Ladd, is a native of North Dakota. He is a retired educator and currently resides in Maryland. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he holds two masters degrees from The American University in public administration and political science, and he earned his doctoral degree in the field of international relations.

Dr. Ladd serves on the board of directors of Chesapeake Ranch Water Company and is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Pi Sigma Alpha, and the National Capital Area Political Science Association. His interests include gardening and flying.


My Review:

When I became a certified pharmacy technician I had to learn the history of drug development and regulation in this country. I never gave much thought to the processes that governed food manufacturing until recently.

There have been so many cases of food borne illnesses and contamination of our food supply with any number of toxic chemicals recently. Salmonella in the lettuce, lead in toothpaste, E. coli in our meat…the list is endless. I wanted to know where the system went wrong so when I saw the chance to review this book, I was thrilled.

Chemist Edwin Fremont Ladd

Chemist Ladd began his career working to improve the feed of cattle in order to increase the quality of meat and milk products. He went on to teach courses such as chemistry, nutrition, cereal chemistry, and dairy products at The College of Agriculture in Fargo, North Dakota.

Ladd regularly purchased canned goods and analyzed them in his laboratory. He found that things such as formaldehyde and borax were being used as preservatives and instead of sugar, companies were using the much cheaper saccharine for sweetening.

To be honest, I never realized that saccharine had been around so long. And if artificial sweeteners were such a concern to Chemist Ladd, I should think they would still be a huge concern today!

Other Food Issues You May Enjoy Learning About:

Ladd’s experimentation led to the first legislation on the adulteration of food in this country. There are two full pages on food laws and I won’t go into them all, however I will say that if companies today followed these regulations to the letter, there would be a lot fewer concerns over the safety of the food supply!

Over the next several years, Ladd analyzed every type of food product he could find and published his findings in journals in order to bring the truth to the public. If only we had such detailed knowledge today, most people would think twice before buying the items that they do! The book includes photocopies of written documents and photos that were published in the early 1900’s.

Food Regulation Resistance

As is the case today, enforcement was a key issue and opposition from numerous sources was strong. People who opposed Ladd’s work tended to fall into 3 categories. Defenders of the constitution (its not the government’s job…). Those who didn’t understand the issue (ignorance is bliss). And those who wanted to continue to deceive the public (the manufacturers). This sounds so true, even in today’s society!

At the same time that Ladd was carrying on his work, Uptain Sinclair was bringing the issues to the general public through his novels. In particular, Sinclair’s book The Jungle brought to light numerous issues regarding the meat packing industry. Together, these two men were largely responsible for the Pure Food Law of 1906.

After reading this book, I am still not sure what has gone wrong with the regulations regarding food manufacturing in this country. The laws seem so straight forward. They clearly state what can and cannot be included in our food and the assurance that we cannot be misled by manufacturers. It is time for our government to step up and start enforcing the laws that were passed over a century ago.

This is not a light reading kind of book. There are facts and figures and photocopies of old documents and lots of legal speak. However, for those truly interested in the history of food legislation, this is a very interesting read!


1 thought on “Edwin Fremont Ladd: Pure Food Crusader”

  1. Unbelievable. If Culver doesn’t have an answer to what can be done it seems we’re right back at the time that his grandfather Edwin took up the work of informing the American public about what was going on in the food industry. More government? I guess for this I’m willing to bite the bullet and say yes, but I don’t think government really cares otherwise how could we had deteriorated to where we are today – god help us all. I’d like to have the book so yes if I could be entered into the contest. Great blog review and thanks for the heads up. I’m glad I decided to follow your blog!


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