Adapt Food to Climate

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, June 17, 1914:  Don’t have anything for today.

Source: Good Housekeeping (June, 1914)

Source: Good Housekeeping (June, 1914)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma was probably still picking strawberries for a neighbor—and was probably too exhausted to write anything in the diary.

Since Grandma didn’t write much, I thought you might enjoy some quotes from an article in the June, 1914 issue of Good Housekeeping about how people living in cold climates should eat fattier foods in the winter than in the summer.

The sugars and starches may be regarded as partly burned, while the extent of the burning in the fats and oils is extremely slight. For this reason the fats and oils are distinctively heat formers, furnishing the maximum degree of heat and energy during the processes of combustion in the various tissues of the body. A kilogram (2.2 lbs.) of sugars or starches will furnish four thousand calories (units) of energy, while a kilogram of fats or oils will furnish nine thousand, three hundred units of energy.

As a consequence fats and oils are consumed in increasingly large quantities as the temperature of the environment falls. Near the equator, where the average temperature is but little below that of the blood itself, there is little loss of heat by radiation from the human body, and hence those elements which particularly produce heat are required in minimum quantity. But as we approach the northern limit of human habitation, there the average temperatures of the year are below the freezing-point of water, the radiation of heat from the body is greatly increased and the requirement of fat in the food is correspondingly greater.

There is reason to believe that, especially during the cold months, it would be a wise dietetic practice if the people of our country would consume a larger quantify of oil and less sugar and starch. In the warm months, when succulent vegetables are fruits are abundant, the fat content of the ration might well be diminished.

Hmm. . . I wonder if the Muffly’s used this philosophy when planning meals. I can remember when I was a child that we ate more meat in the winter; and had lots of strawberry shortcake. . . and black raspberry shortcake. . . and cherry pudding for the main course during the summer months.

25 Responses

  1. Sheryl, we ate more meat too and more food altogether in the winter when I was a child.

  2. Same here, mums encouraged us to have sit eat breakfast and we must eat all our dinner to keep us warm. No central heating. We survived.!

    • brrr. . .It’s interesting how mothers encouraged children to eat their dinner so they’d stay warm. It sounds like they had the same basic idea as this magazine article.

  3. It was hot here yesterday. I grilled rib eyes for dinner. We don’t have meat dishes as often in summer. Lots of greens lately.

  4. Interesting theory – it stands to reason that if humans eat locally those living in the north would naturally get more fats and oils from eating seals and reindeer. And the closer we get to the equator the more abundant the vegetation available to gather and eat.

  5. Interesting post. I wonder what a dietician would say about that today.

  6. Makes sense to me!

  7. I think our food preferences change with the weather to meet our needs …. ?

  8. Hmmm… we always had fresh veggies during the hot summer months!

    • So did we. We also had lot of fruits. I’m always a little surprised how expensive fruits are in the store. When I was a kid we had more strawberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches, apples, etc. than we could eat.

  9. Makes a lot of sense doesn’t it?

  10. Now that fascinates me because my mother always made strawberry shortcake as a dinner meal in the summer. Bisquick cake, mashed and sugared strawberries, and whipped cream. I used to LOVE those meals. No discernible protein, I guess.

  11. We ate our first ripe tomato from our garden today, usually the start of a change in our diet to more vegetables and “cool” dishes.

  12. Being almost winter, it’s no wonder I feel like eating a good solid winter pudding. ;)

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