I'm happy to start the new year with the publication of a special issue of the Business History Review that grew out of a conference I helped organize while the Newcomen fellow at the Harvard Business School. That conference, "The Political Economy of Food: Grown Locally and Consumed Globally" (Cambridge, MA, June 2015), generated a number of great conversations across time periods and geographies, and the special issue continues that trend. From pieces on standardizing fruit production and food dyes in the United States, to chocolate marketing in Great Britain and my own piece on agricultural development policies in Mexico, the issue gives an overview of current research on the business of food.
My own article, "Developing the Mexican Countryside: The Department of Fomento's Social Project of Modernization" traces the nineteenth and early twentieth century history of the formation, expansion, and eventual contraction of a bureaucracy dedicated to development. While scholars have looked at a number of Fomento's component parts, I have yet to find a comprehensive synthesis of this important ministry's larger project. That there was a larger project is one of the key arguments of the article, as is the argument that social as well as economic aims were generally taken into account. I hope fellow historians find the piece useful, not just scholars of Mexico, but those looking at broader histories of rural development and modernization during this period.