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Food in History – Independence Day

July 2, 2014

As Americans prepare for a celebration of freedom, few think of the food issues of the history of America. An interesting book by Kent Whitaker called Bullets and Bread doesn’t forget. It’s worth a read for those interested in food, especially if history is an interest too!

While much of the focus is on later history, there are interesting bits of information that stagger the mind.

“The process of feeding and supplying troops was addressed and undertaken on a national scale during the early years of the Revolutionary War. George Washington realized that feeding the troops would be a major concern. The appointment of the first Quartermaster General, Major General Thomas Mifflin, set the initial steps into place for an orderly way to supply and feed fighting men. Before the appointment of Mifflin, state militias had fed their own men.”

While it seems obvious that those in the military need to eat, there were obvious major differences between then and now.  Consider what a soldier of that day was entitled:

Ration list for American Revolutionary War Soldier

16 oz beef

6.8 oz peas

18 oz flour

1.4 oz rice

16 oz milk

.1830 oz soap

1 quart spruce beer

.0686 oz candle

November 4, 1775

Source: Fort Lee Quartermaster Museum

If you really wrap your mind around this it’s the daily allotment for the young men that brought Independence Day to reality. That’s not only navigating on foot or horseback, but a very small daily allowance, especially in view of today’s consumption. Take a few minutes during the weekend celebration to think about those men and women of early America that we should remember on this day. Check out Bullets And Bread, and don’t take for granted what it means to have freedom and enough food.

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