A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression by Jane Ziegelman Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression

From the author of the acclaimed 97 Orchard and her husband, a culinary historian, an in-depth exploration of the greatest food crisis the nation has ever faced—the Great Depression—and how it transformed America’s culinary culture.

The decade-long Great Depression, a period of shifts in the country’s political and social landscape, forever changed the way America eats. Bef

The decade-long Great Depression, a period of shifts in the country’s political and social landscape, forever changed the way America eats. Before 1929, America’s relationship with food was defined by abundance. But the collapse the economy, in both urban and rural America, left a quarter of all Americans out of work and undernourished—shattering long-held assumptions about the limitlessness of the national larder.

In 1933, as women struggled to feed their families, President Roosevelt reversed longstanding biases toward government sponsored “food charity.” For the first time in American history, the federal government assumed, for a while, responsibility for feeding its citizens. The effects were widespread. Championed by Eleanor Roosevelt, “home economists” who had long fought to bring science into the kitchen rose to national stature. Tapping into America’s longstanding ambivalence toward culinary enjoyment, they imposed their vision of a sturdy, utilitarian cuisine on the American dinner table.

Through the Bureau of Home Economics, these women led a sweeping campaign to instill dietary recommendations, the forerunners of today’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. At the same time, rising food conglomerates introduced packaged and processed foods that gave rise to a new American cuisine based on speed and convenience. This movement toward a homogenized national cuisine sparked a revival of American regional cooking. In the ensuing decades, this tension between local traditions and culinary science have defined our national cuisine—a battle that continues today.

A Square Meal examines the impact of economic contraction and environmental disaster on how Americans ate then—and the lessons and insights those experiences may hold for us today.
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    Biblio Files (takingadayoff)

    Jan 15, 2016

    rated it
    it was amazing

    You might imagine a culinary history of the Great Depression would be a catalog of cheap and skimpy meals, but having read previous works by Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe, I knew I’d be in for a social history with all the trimmings.

    I was not disappointed. A Square Meal chronicles American diets in the early 20th century, tells the history of hoboes in America (and the important differences between hoboes and tramps and bums), touches on the popularization of canned and frozen foods, and gets in

    I was not disappointed. A Square Meal chronicles American diets in the early 20th century, tells the history of hoboes in America (and the important differences between hoboes and tramps and bums), touches on the popularization of canned and frozen foods, and gets into the surprising politics of feeding (and not feeding) the unemployed during the Depression.

    Sprinkled throughout are recipes and photographs and intriguing stories, and what runs just below the surface is that we are not so very far removed from the Thirties. The attitudes toward people using food stamps (which were introduced in that decade) were not charitable — there was a suspicion in the White House among FDR’s cabinet (and perhaps FDR himself) that people accepting handouts would suffer low morale from the experience. Evidently they thought that was a fate worse than actually starving to death, something that happened with grim regularity. But the false economy of letting people starve came back to roost when the Army had to disqualify half of the draftees it examined due to poor health, much of which was directly attributable to poor nutrition.

    Fascinating social history, highly recommended!

    (Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss for a digital review copy.)
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    Cathie

    Dec 07, 2016

    rated it
    it was ok

    I felt this to be more of a social history of the Great Depression. The first three chapters seemed devoted to the Roaring 20s. Then it delved into politics of feeding (or not feeding) the unemployed, and events that affected agriculture, the beginning of home economists and promoting what a balanced diet was: watered-down and less is more, and the beginning of food manufacturing with corporations such as Post, Birds Eye, Jell-O (even Ralston & Purina).

    I went into this seeking a culinary ta

    I went into this seeking a culinary take, but felt I received more of a social and political take, mostly starvation and malnutrition. I guess I should not have expected too much on food during this time to be no more than personal farming, canning, hunting basics. But this was my expectation of culinary history, and what and where ethnicity, charitable support, migration – to name a few – created such culinary standards, whether going back to roots or moving the food revolution forward.


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    Kelsey

    Sep 13, 2016

    rated it
    liked it

    Disappointing, disorganized, and facile.

    This is not a bad book, but it is not a good book. After being a little all over the place, it ends very abruptly. Does not sufficiently discuss the history of the food theories that lead to the Depression menus and comes off as very surface-level. Though the writing was engaging enough, I could not shake the feeling that this book was using the 1930s to comment on today more than anything else.