James E. McWilliams (born 28 November 1968) is professor of history at Texas State University. He specializes in American history, of the colonial and early national period, and in the environmental history of the United States. He also writes for The Texas Observer and the History News Service, and has published a number of op-eds on food in The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and USA Today. Some of his most popular articles advocate veganism.
James E. McWilliams
|Education||Georgetown University (B.A., 1991); Harvard University (Ed.M., 1994); University of Texas at Austin (M.A., 1996); Johns Hopkins University (Ph.D., 2001)|
|Notable work||Just Food: How Locavores are Endangering the Future of Food and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly (2009), American Pests: The Losing War on Insects from Colonial Times to DDT (2008)|
|Spouse||Leila McWilliams (1995–present)|
|Website||James McWilliams: Texas State University|
He received his B.A. in philosophy from Georgetown University in 1991, his Ed.M. from Harvard University in 1994, his M.A. in American studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 1996, and his Ph.D. in history from Johns Hopkins University in 2001. He won the Walter Muir Whitehill Prize in Early American History awarded by the Colonial Society of Massachusetts for 2000, and won the Hiett Prize in the Humanities from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture in 2009. He has been a fellow in the Agrarian Studies Program at Yale University.
McWilliams married Leila C. Kempner on March 18, 1995. James and Leila and their two children live in Austin, Texas.
In 2015, McWilliams authored The Modern Savage: Our Unthinking Decision to Eat Animals, a book supportive of animal rights and veganism. McWilliams criticizes the locavore movement, such as backyard and nonindustrial farms which preach compassionate care of animals but slaughter them in the end.
McWilliams' book A Revolution in Eating was positively reviewed by anthropologist Jeffrey Cole as an "engaging, creative, and informative account of food in colonial British America." Historian Etta Madden also positively reviewed the book, commenting that "McWilliams's study of the production and consumption of food contributes to a great understanding of the relationship between food and American identity."
Biologist Marc Bekoff positively reviewed The Modern Savage, as a "very thoughtful work about our meal plans in which he covers the ecological and ethical reasons for not eating nonhuman animals (animals)." Kirkus Reviews commented, "While McWilliams offers convincing arguments for animal rights, they are undermined by the extensive quotes, which become tiresome and offer little useful context." McWilliams' views on agriculture, food production, and animal husbandry have been criticized by other authors in the space, including Joel Salatin. In her review in the Chicago Tribune, journalist Monica Eng, questions McWilliams' "contrarian essays" that "play well in the land of page views, [but] don't always fare so well in terms of accuracy."
- McWilliams, James E. (October 2013). The Pecan: A History of America's Native Nut. University Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-74916-0.
- McWilliams, James E. (2013-04-24). The Politics of the Pasture. Lantern Books.
- McWilliams, James E. (2009-08-15). Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0316033749. OCLC 319868125.
- McWilliams, James E. (2008-06-17). American Pests: The Losing War on Insects from Colonial Times to DDT. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0231139427. OCLC 187394546.
isbn:9780231139427.(held in 754 worldCat libraries)
- Review: "American Pests": Our wrongheaded approach to insect control: Bugged to death: James E. McWilliams takes on insects, agriculture and pesticides in "American Pests: The Losing War on Insects from Colonial Times to DDT." By Irene Wanner, The Seattle Times, August 8, 2008 
- McWilliams, James E. (2007-06-12). Building the Bay Colony: Local Economy and Culture in Early Massachusetts. University of Virginia Press. ISBN 978-0813926360. OCLC 76820854.
- McWilliams, James E. (2005-06-01). A Revolution In Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America. Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0231129923. OCLC 850974749.(held in 868 worldCat libraries) 
- McWilliams, James E. (January 2015). The Modern Savage: Our Unthinking Decision to Eat Animals. Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 978-1-250-03119-8.
- “The horizon opened up very greatly.: Leland O. Howard and the Transition to Chemical Insecticides in the United States, 1894–1927” Agricultural History (Fall 2008).
- “Cuisine and National Identity in the Early Republic,” Historically Speaking (May/June 2006), 5–8.
- ”African Americans, Native Americans, and the Origins of American Food,” The Texas Journal of History and Genealogy. Volume 4 (2005), pp. 12–16.
- " 'how unripe we are': An Intellectual Construction of American Food,” Food, Society, and Culture (Fall 2005), pp. 143–160.
- “‘To Forward Well-Flavored Productions’: The Kitchen Garden in Early New England.” The New England Quarterly (March 2004), p. 25-50.
- “Integrating Primary and Secondary Sources,” Teaching History (Spring 2004), pp. 3–14.
- “The Transition from Capitalism and the Consolidation of Authority in the Chesapeake Bay Region, 1607–1760: An Interpretive Model,” Maryland Historical Magazine (Summer 2002), pp. 135–152.
- “New England’s First Depression: An Export-Led Interpretation,” The Journal of Interdisciplinary History (Summer 2002), pp. 1–20 .
- “Work, Family, and Economic Improvement in Seventeenth-Century Massachusetts Bay,” The New England Quarterly (September 2001), pp. 355–384. (Winner of the 2000 Whitehill Prize in Colonial History for the best essay published that year in colonial history).
- “Brewing Beer in Massachusetts Bay, 1640–1690.” The New England Quarterly (December 1998), pp. 353–384.
- McWilliams, James E. (2014-03-08). "Meat Makes the Planet Thirsty". The New York Times. p. A19. Retrieved 2014-03-19.
Changing one's diet to replace 50 percent of animal products with edible plants like legumes, nuts and tubers results in a 30 percent reduction in an individual's food-related water footprint. Going vegetarian, a better option in many respects, reduces that water footprint by almost 60 percent.
- McWilliams, James E. (Spring 2014). "Loving Animals to Death". The American Scholar. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
Identify an agrarian problem—greenhouse gas emissions, overuse of antibiotics and dangerous pesticides, genetically modified crops, salmonella, E. coli, waste disposal, excessive use of water—and trace it to its ultimate origin and you will likely find an animal.
- McWilliams, James E. (2013-07-03). "Radical Activism and the Future of Animal Rights". Pacific Standard. Archived from the original on 2013-07-07. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
The most extreme activists have set aside the goal of helping animals to live better lives in order to attack those who do not join them in dreaming an impossible dream.
- McWilliams, James E. (2012-09-07). "Vegan Feud: Animal rights activists would accomplish a lot more if they stopped attacking the Humane Society". Slate. Retrieved 2013-07-09.
- McWilliams, James E. (2012-04-13). "The Myth of Sustainable Meat". The New York Times. p. A31. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
Although these smaller systems appear to be environmentally sustainable, considerable evidence suggests otherwise.
- McWilliams, James E. (2012-01-18). "The Evidence for a Vegan Diet". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2013-07-05.
... the assertion that veganism, when done right, isn't healthy is just plain bunk.
- McWilliams, James E. (2011-12-21). "Hunting for Euphemisms: How We Trick Ourselves to Excuse Killing". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2013-07-09.
[W]hen we tell ourselves that we're humanely harvesting venison out of reverence for the deer—rather than killing a sentient being to satisfy our palate—we're not so much connecting with our food as we are manipulating language to avoid knowing what we don't want to know.
- McWilliams, James E. (2009-11-16). "Bellying up to environmentalism". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2013-07-30. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
Until we make that leap, until we create a culinary culture in which the meat-eaters must do the apologizing, the current proposals will be nothing more than gestures that turn the fork into an empty symbol rather than a real tool for environmental change.
- McWilliams, James E. (2009-04-10). "Free-Range Trichinosis". The New York Times. p. A23. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
[S]cientists have found that free-range pork can be more likely than caged pork to carry dangerous bacteria and parasites.
- McWilliams, James E. (2008-11-17). "Our Home-Grown Melamine Problem". The New York Times. p. A27. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
Last year, for instance, the F.D.A. reported that millions of Americans had eaten chicken fattened on feed with melamine-tainted gluten imported from China.
- "Readers' Comments on 'Our Home-Grown Melamine Problem'". The New York Times. 2008-11-17. Archived from the original on 2012-10-26. Retrieved 2013-07-11. (105 Readers' Comments)
- McWilliams, James E. (2007-08-06). "Food That Travels Well". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-07-11.
[L]amb raised on New Zealand's clover-choked pastures and shipped 11,000 miles by boat to Britain produced 1,520 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per ton while British lamb produced 6,280 pounds of carbon dioxide per ton
- "Readers' Comments on 'Food That Travels Well'". The New York Times. 2007-08-06. Retrieved 2013-07-11.
- List of McWilliams' articles in The Atlantic
- List of McWilliams' articles in The New York Times
- ^ a b Blaschke, Jayme (2009-03-17). "James McWilliams awarded Hiett Prize in the Humanities". Texas State University. Retrieved 2013-07-11.
- ^ "Whitehill Prize Past Winners". Northeastern University. 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-12-07. Retrieved 2013-07-09.
- ^ Mosley, Joe, ed. (2011-04-19). "'Contrarian agrarian' challenges assumptions about eating sustainably". AroundtheO. University of Oregon. Archived from the original on 2013-01-18. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- ^ "American Pests (book review)". Columbia University Press. New York City. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
a recent fellow in the Agrarian Studies Program at Yale University.
- ^ "James E McWilliams married Leila C Kempner on March 18, 1995 in Texas". Marriages in Texas, 1966–2010. Retrieved 2013-07-09.
- ^ King, David. "Rising Star James McWilliams". Texas State University. Archived from the original on 2013-10-08. Retrieved 2013-07-09.
He is an avid runner
- ^ McWilliams, James E. (2013-06-23). "The Importance of Being Unsure". Eating Plants Blog. Archived from the original on 2013-12-31. Retrieved 2013-07-09.
But, since becoming a vegan, I can sometimes see why the stereotype persists.
- ^ a b "The Modern Savage: Our Unthinking Decision to Eat Animals". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
- ^ Cole, Jeffrey E. (2009). "A Review of "A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America"". Food and Foodways. 17 (2): 133–135. doi:10.1080/07409710902925904. S2CID 162788272.
- ^ Madden, Etta (2008). "Reviewed Work: A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America by James E. McWilliams". The New England Quarterly. 81 (4): 733–735. doi:10.1162/tneq.2008.81.4.733. S2CID 145634502.
- ^ Bekoff, Marc. (2015). "The Modern Savage: A New Book Questions Why We Eat Animals". Psychology Today. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
- ^ "Joel Salatin responds to New York Times' 'Myth of Sustainable Meat'". Grist. 2012-04-17. Retrieved 2022-04-15.
- ^ Eng, By Monica. "Review: 'The Modern Savage' by James McWilliams". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2022-04-15.
- ^ http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/187394546&referer=brief_results[bare URL]
- ^ http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/56942105&referer=brief_results[bare URL]