Skip to main content

Food and Eating in America: A Documentary Reader



Food and Eating in America: A Documentary Reader

James C. Giesen (Editor), Bryant Simon (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-118-93640-5 February 2018 Wiley-Blackwell 352 Pages


Guides students through a rich menu of American history through food and eating

This book features a wide and diverse range of primary sources covering the cultivation, preparation, marketing, and consumption of food from the time before Europeans arrived in North America to the present-day United States. It is organized around what the authors label the “Four P’s”—production, politics, price, and preference—in order to show readers that food represents something more than nutrition and the daily meals that keep us alive. The documents in this book demonstrate that food we eat is a “highly condensed social fact” that both reflects and is shaped by politics, economics, culture, religion, region, race, class, and gender.

Food and Eating in America covers more than 500 years of American food and eating history with sections on: An Appetizer: What Food and Eating Tell Us About America; Hunting, Harvesting, Starving, and the Occasional Feast: Food in Early America; Fields and Foods in the Nineteenth Century; Feeding a Modern World: Revolutions in Farming, Food, and Famine; and Counterculture Cuisines and Culinary Tourism.

  • Presents primary sources from a wide variety of perspectives—Native Americans, explorers, public officials, generals, soldiers, slaves, slaveholders, clergy, businessmen, workers, immigrants, activists, African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, artists, writers, investigative reporters, judges, the owners of food trucks, and prison inmates
  • Illustrates the importance of eating and food through speeches, letters, diaries, memoirs, newspaper and magazine articles, illustrations, photographs, song lyrics, advertisements, legislative statutes, court rulings, interviews, manifestoes, government reports, and recipes
  • Offers a new way of exploring how people lived in the past by looking closely and imaginatively at food

Food and Eating in America: A Documentary Reader is an ideal book for students of United States history, food, and the social sciences. It will also appeal to foodies and those with a curiosity for documentary-style books of all kinds.

Series Editors’ Preface xii

Part I: An Appetizer: What Food and Eating Tell Us About America 1

Part II: Hunting, Harvesting, Starving, and the Occasional Feast: Food in Early America 9

Chapter 1 Food in the New World: Pre‐Columbian Era through the American Revolution 11

Document 1.1: The Cherokee Creation Story, “How the World Was Made, Wahnenauhi Version” 11

Document 1.2: John Smith’s History of the Starving Times at Jamestown Colony (1609) 13

Document 1.3: English Artist John White’s drawings of Native Americans fishing, cooking, and preparing corn (1580s) 15

Document 1.4: Edward Winslow on the “First” Thanksgiving, 1621 18

Document 1.5: A Micmac Perspective on Europeans’ Way of Life, near Quebec (c. 1677) 21

Document 1.6: John Winthrop, Jr., Report to the Royal Society of London on Indian Corn (1662) 23

Document 1.7: Observations on American Vegetables Versus English Vegetables, from John Josselyn, New‐England’s Rarities Discovered (1672), and Francis Higginson, New‐England’s Plantation (1630) 25

Document 1.8: A Soldier’s Perspective on the Revolutionary War, Selections from the Memoir of Private Joseph Plumb Martin (1777) 27

Document 1.9: A General’s Perspective: A Letter from General Horatio Gates to Major General Caswell (August 3, 1780) 30

Document 1.10: Selections from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1791) on Communal Eating and Vegetarianism 31

Chapter 2 Food, Foodways, and Conflict in the Early Republic 34

Document 2.1: Amelia Simmons, American Cookery (1796), “Preface,” and Selected Recipes 34

Document 2.2: The Preface, Introduction, and Assorted Recipes from Mary Randolph, The Virginia House‐Wife (1824) 36

Document 2.3: Unidentified artist, Benjamin Hawkins and the Creek Indians (Painting, c. 1805) 41

Document 2.4: John Lewis Krimmel, The Quilting Frolic (Painting, 1813) 42

Document 2.5: Excerpt from Joseph Doddridge, Notes on the Settlement and Indian Wars of the Western Parts of Pennsylvania and Virginia (1824), Chapter 5, “Beasts and Birds” 44

Document 2.6: Selections from English Phrenologist George Combe, Notes on the United States During a Phrenological Visit in 1838–9–40, vol. II. (1841) 45

Document 2.7: A Variation of the Lyrics of “Home Sweet Home,” a Popular Song of the Early Republic (c. 1830) 47

Part III: Fields and Foods in the Nineteenth Century 49

Chapter 3 Slavery and Food in the Old South 51

Document 3.1: Selections from Frederick Douglass, Memoirs on Food and Slavery (1845) 51

Document 3.2: Excerpts from Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) on Slaves’ Weekly Rations, Punishments for Slaves’ Stealing Food from Master, and Slave Taste Testers for Master 55

Document 3.3: Images of the Antebellum South 56

Document 3.4: Excerpts from Daniel R. A. C. Hundley, Social Relations in Our Southern States (1860) 59

Document 3.5: Selections from Planter James Battle Avirett, The Old Plantation: How We Lived in Great House and Cabin Before the War (1901) 62

Document 3.6: Excerpts from William H. Robinson, From Log Cabin to the Pulpit, or Fifteen Years in Slavery (1913) 65

Document 3.7: Excerpts from Allen Parker, Recollections of Slavery Times (1895) 67

Chapter 4 Agriculture and Food in the Age of Reform 70

Document 4.1: Advice on Farm Management, from The New England Farmer and Horticultural Journal (1828) 70

Document 4.2: Selections from Medicus, The Oracle of Health and Long Life Containing Plain and Practical Instructions for the Preservation of Sound Health (1837) 72

Document 4.3: Selections from Lydia Maria Child, The American Frugal Housewife (1829) 75

Document 4.4: Excerpts from Sylvester Graham, “A Defence of the Graham System of Living” (1837) 77

Document 4.5: The Mormon “Word of Wisdom” (1833) 82

Document 4.6: Political Cartoon: “A Member of the Temperance Society” (c. 1833) 84

Document 4.7: Family Dietary Advice from William Andrus Alcott, The Young Wife (1837) 85

Chapter 5 Food on the Frontier 88

Document 5.1: Thomas Jefferson’s Agrarian Ideal, from Notes on the State of Virginia (1785) 88

Document 5.2: Excerpt from Judge William Cooper, A Guide in the Wilderness (1810) 91

Document 5.3: Food in the West with Lewis and Clark (From their Journals, 1804) 92

Document 5.4: Selections from The Diary of Patrick Breen (1846) 96

Document 5.5: Gold Rush Food: Selections from Lansford W. Hastings, The Emigrants’ Guide to Oregon and California (1845) and Elisha Douglas Perkins, Gold Rush Diary (1849) 98

Document 5.6: Advertisement for Cyrus McCormick’s Mechanical Reaper (1846) 101

Chapter 6 The Civil War (1861–1865) 103

Document 6.1: Selections from the Diary of Louis Léon (CSA) 103

Document 6.2: The Confederate Right to Impress Food, a selection from “A Bill to Provide Supplies for the Army and to Prescribe the Mode of Making Impressments” (1864) 105

Document 6.3: Photograph of Hardtack 106

Document 6.4: “A Dangerous Novelty in Memphis,” cartoon by Frank Bellew, Harper’s Weekly (1862) 107

Document 6.5: Photographs of Prisoners Liberated from Confederate Prisons (1865) 109

Chapter 7 Food Reborn: Immigration, Urbanization, and Eating (1857–1905) 111

Document 7.1: Observations of Food and Cooking in Texas: Frederick Law Olmsted, A Journey Through Texas (1857) 111

Document 7.2: Documents on Irish Immigration from Mary Anne Sadlier, Bessy Conway; or, The Irish Girl in America (1885) and John O’Hanlon, The Irish Emigrant’s Guide for the United States (1861) 113

Document 7.3: Recipes for “Broth in haste,” “Cheap white,” and “Tongue, Braised, with Aspic Jelly,” from Lafcadio Hearn, Creole Cookbook (1887) 116

Document 7.4: Platform of the Populist Party (1892) 118

Document 7.5: Cooking Utensils for Sale in the 1912 Sears, Roebuck and Co. Catalog 119

Document 7.6: Ernest H. Crosby, Letter to The New York Times on Vegetarianism (1905) 121

Part IV: Feeding a Modern World: Revolutions in Farming, Food, and Famine 125

Chapter 8 The Progressive Era and Food 127

Document 8.1: Samuel Gompers, Meat vs. Rice: American Manhood Against Asiatic Coolieism, Which Shall Survive (1901) 127

Document 8.2: The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 (1906) 129

Document 8.3: “Riots in Newark Over Meat Boycott,” The New York Times (1910) 132

Document 8.4: “Girls’ Canning Clubs” from the Wyoming Farm Bulletin (1914) 135

Document 8.5: Lyrics to the Song, “Hoover’s Goin’ to Get You!” (1918) 137

Document 8.6: Excerpts from Christine Frederick, “The New Housekeeping,” Ladies’ Home Journal (1912) 139

Document 8.7: LuAnn Jones, “Work Was My Pleasure: An Oral History of Nellie Stancil Langley” (1991) 146

Document 8.8: “HOT Hamburger: Just Off the Griddle” (1926) 149

Chapter 9 The Great Depression 151

Document 9.1: Oscar Heline, farmer from Iowa, interviewed by Studs Terkel in Hard Times (1970) 151

Document 9.2: John Steinbeck, “The Harvest of Gypsies,” San Francisco Chronicle (1936) 155

Document 9.3: Excerpt from Kathy Mays Smith, Gold Medal: CCC Company 1538, A Documentary (2001) 160

Document 9.4: Lynn‐Pgh, Recipe for “Depression Cake” (circa 1935) 162

Document 9.5: President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Address” (1935) 163

Chapter 10 World War II and the Food and Government Revolution 170

Document 10.1: Office of Price Administration, “How to Use Your War Ration Book” (1943) 170

Document 10.2: Clive McCay, “Eat Well to Work Well: The Lunch Box Should Carry a Hearty Meal,” in War Emergency Bulletin No. 38 (1942) 172

Document 10.3: World War II Era Advertisement, “Have a ‘Coke’ = Good Winds Have Blown You Here” (1943) 175

Document 10.4: “The Official Bracero Agreement,” For the Temporary Migration of Mexican Agricultural Workers to the United States (1942) 178

Document 10.5: Excerpt from Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston, Farewell to Manzanar (1973), 35–38 183

Chapter 11 The Postwar Food Revolution(s) of Suburban America 187

Document 11.1: Photograph of Super Giant Supermarket, Rockville, Maryland (1964) 187

Document 11.2: Excerpt from Emily Post, “Restaurant Etiquette” in Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage (1957) 189

Document 11.3: Excerpt from Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (1962) 196

Document 11.4: Swanson Advertisement, “Everybody Wins” (1963) 201

Document 11.5: Excerpts from Norman Borlaug’s lecture “The Green Revolution, Peace, and Humanity,” Delivered Upon Receiving the Nobel Peace Prize (1970) 203

Document 11.6: Margaret Visser, “A Meditation on the Microwave,” Psychology Today (1989) 212

Chapter 12 Eating Civil Rights 217

Document 12.1: Announcement of New Segregated Restaurant Law, Birmingham Age‐Herald (1914) 217

Document 12.2: Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, “Food for Fight for Freedom” (1965) 219

Document 12.3: Black Panther Party, “To Feed Our Children,” The Black Panther (1969) 224

Document 12.4: Eliseo Medina, “Why A Grape Boycott?” (circa 1969) 226

Document 12.5: Ralph Johnson and Patricia Reed, “What’s Wrong with Soul Food,” The Black Collegian (1981) 230

Document 12.6: “Marlon Brando, S.F. Cleric Arrested for Fishing Illegally,” Seattle Daily Times (1964) 233

Document 12.7: Vietnamese Fishermen’s Association, et al., Plaintiffs, v. The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, et al., Defendants. Civ. A. No. H‐81‐895. United States District Court, S. D. Texas, Houston Division (1981) 236

Document 12.8: Press Release: “T.G.I. Friday’s® to Bring ‘Magic’ Brand of Restaurants to Urban Communities” (1998) 245

Chapter 13 The Counterculture and the Lunch Counter 248

Document 13.1: Excerpts from Gordon and Phyllis Grabe, The Hippie Cookbook or Don’t Eat Your Food Stamps (1970) 248

Document 13.2: Kit Leder, “Women in the Communes,” Women: A Journal of Liberation (1969) 251

Document 13.3: Excerpt from Carol Adams, The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist‐Vegetarian Critical Theory, 20th Anniversary Edition (2010) 255

Document 13.4: Hanna Rosin, “The Evil Empire: The Scoop on Ben & Jerry’s Crunchy Capitalism,” The New Republic (1995) 257

Document 13.5: Bryant Simon, “Why Starbucks Lost its Mojo,” Christian Science Monitor (2005) 262

Chapter 14 Cheap Food, Cheap Calories 266

Document 14.1: Centers for Disease Control Maps of the Obesity Trend in the United States (1985–2010) 266

Document 14.2: Excerpt from Judge Robert Sweet Opinion in Pelman v. McDonald’s Corp. (2003) 268

Document 14.3: Michael Pollan, “Down on the Industrial Organic Farm,” The New York Times Magazine (2001) 275

Document 14.4: Avi Solomon, “Working Undercover in a Slaughterhouse: An Interview with Timothy Pachirat,” Boing, Boing (2008) 281

Document 14.5: Statement of Sarah C. White, Member, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1529 (1990) 286

Document 14.6: Excerpt from Sarah Wu, also known as “Mrs. Q.,” Fed Up with Lunch: How One Anonymous Teacher Revealed the Truth about School Lunches—And How We Can Change Them! (2011) 287

Document 14.7: Excerpt from “Fat Liberation Manifesto” (1973) 293

Chapter 15 Foodies and the Complexities of Consumption 297

Document 15.1: Menu from Spago Restaurant (1987) 297

Document 15.2: Andrew Chan, “‘La Grande Bouffe’: Cooking Shows as Pornography,” Gastronomica (2003) 299

Document 15.3: Rabbi Nahum Ward-Lev and Shelley Mann-Lev, “Keeping Eco‐kosher” (1990) 303

Document 15.4: Mill Creek Farm’s Mission Statement and Values (2017) 306

Document 15.5: Excerpt from Gustavo Arellano, Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America (2014) 309

Document 15.6: Rachel Kuo, “The Feminist Guide to Being a Foodie Without Being Culturally Appropriative,” from (2015) 312

Document: 15.7: Photograph of People Waiting for Korean Tacos from the Kogi Truck, Torrance, CA (2009) 319

Document 15.8: Greg Wright, “French Fries, Mais Non, Congress Calls em ‘Freedom Fries’,” USA Today (2003) 320

Document 15.9: Kayleigh Rogers, “When Prison Food is Punishment,” from the blog Motherboard (2015) 323

Index 328