A History of American Eating Habits

No Fish Today

Sardines

Today, "we think we're being terribly virtuous," Oliver remarks. But the main purpose of eating back then "was [to get] enough calories. For that very reason," she says, while modern people enjoy seafood because it is light, fish "was not preferred in 1776." People generally had fish about once a week. What kind of fish did people eat? Perhaps some cod with salt pork scraps sprinkled on top to "give it a little more caloric punch," Oliver says.

There was also plenty of herring and shad in the mid-Atlantic region. But much more important than herring or any other fish, says Rachel Baum, site supervisor at Claude Moore Colonial Farm in McLean, Virginia, was meat, particularly pork, because pigs were cheap to feed.

They could be fattened for slaughter by giving them apple cores, potato peelings, and spoiled foods that humans or other animals couldn't eat. Wild game was often on the menu, too. Turkeys, pigeons, venison, rabbit, squirrel—Colonial roadkill, if you will.

Related Topics: Foods, Holidays, America, Exercise
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