19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Saturday, September 5, 1914: Ditto
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
The previous day Grandma wrote, “Nothing much for today.” Since nothing was happening in Grandma’s life I thought you might enjoy some quotes from an article on nutrition in the July, 1914 issue of Ladies Home Journal:
Since the members of the family have to be fed three times a day for each of the three hundred and sixty-five days in the year, how to feed them is a subject worthy of consideration, is it not?
The very best meal planning, of course, is that based on a thorough knowledge of human nutrition, but we housewives cannot all of us get that accurate training. The thing to strive for in feeding your family is what is called “the balanced rations.” Adults and children have very different food needs, brain workers and body workers have still different ones, and surely I do not need to tell you that the sick and the well require diets of quite opposite character.
Muscular work demands energy-and-iron-producing food, such as meats, starch-producing things, sugar, and fats. Therefore you are safe in letting the man folks have their buckwheat cakes and sausages, and pie and doughnuts in reason. Children need bone-and tissue-building foods, so see to it that they get plenty of milk, eggs, cereals, vegetables and fruit, with meat and sweets sparely. Brain workers need easily digestible foods and a lighter diet than people who work with their hands. Give the invalids mainly nutritious liquids, and your boarders whatever they want.
None of this is so difficult as it seems, if you keep in mind that certain kinds of food have uses for nearly all of the family, and can be served for general consumption at the general table. The foundations of all living tissues are in milk, eggs, cheese, meat, legumes, nuts, and cereals. This gives you a basis to go on, and you can add to the list foods for special needs and vary the menu with great variety. Keep in mind that the greatest medicinal agents are vegetables and fruits; include them in the family dietary the year round and you will not go far astray.
24 thoughts on “Hundred-year-old Advice: What Should I Feed My Family?”
Reblogged this on Restorable Living.
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Brain workers need a lighter diet. Interesting. 🙂
It’s an old-fashioned way of saying that people who have desk jobs need to eat fewer calories than those who do physical labor. 🙂
Seems like good advice generally. Less processed food and more exercise.
If it comes from a plant, avoid it.
If it grows on a plant, eat it.
I agree- Wonderful phrase!
It is from Michael Pollan.
Here is another “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto
Food was so much better back in 1914. Unless you were eating those sausages and meat described in “The Jungle” then, ack! Living on a farm, I bet your granma had lots of good tasting, healthy food 3 times a day, with raw milk thrown in along with yard eggs.
I agree–farm families typically ate such good, healthy foods back then.
I’ll never forget some of the graphic descriptions of the horrors of food processing in The Jungle–and your comment makes me think about how rapidly the nation was shifting from wholesome locally, grown food to branded commercially processed food.
brain workers, haha, love it!
It’s such a wonderfully descriptive phrase. 🙂
Boarders can eat whatever they want 🙂
It’s such pragmatic advice–just keep the boarders happy, and don’t worry about whether their food is healthy. I was surprised that boarders were mentioned as a category of people in this article. Many families must have taken in boarders a hundred years ago.
I’ve always admired the ways they dealt with food back then in order to feed such large families.
It must have taken a lot of planning to raise and preserve sufficient amounts of food to last through the winter.
Ha! Feed the boarders whatever….who cares about cash flow? Anyway, all in all, I think they had a pretty good handle on things. Fun post.
How true–I bet they didn’t feed the boarders expensive foods. I can picture boarders wanting lots of sweets; I wonder if they were expensive to make back then.
Great advice – fruit and vegetables are still the best medicine! We worked and ate differently back then.
In my opinion they ate better back then; and it’s a little sad how processed much of our diet is today.
My mother was one of 12: 6 boys and 6 girls. Can you imagine the food my grandmother cooked??? And they grew almost everything themselves…
Whew–your grandmother must have cooked and preserved huge amounts of food. At least she had lots of helpers. 🙂
And even though women did incredibly physical work, it wasn’t deemed muscular work.
It’s interesting how the author categorized people in different ways than what we’d probably do today.