Not by Bread Alone: America's Culinary Heritage

Home Economics & Food Reform
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The home economics movement helped homemakers apply scientific principles to improve conditions in their homes, institutions, and communities. By sharing their knowledge of nutrition and hygiene through outreach programs, home economists had a significant influence on American eating habits in the 20th century. The impact of the movement was strengthened after 1914, when federal funding from the Smith-Lever Act established the Cooperative Extension Service, an educational system designed to enable people to improve their lives and communities through partnerships with experts and institutions. Initially, many women responded skeptically to the new ideas promoted by home economists, particularly since their emphasis on Anglo-Saxon cooking did not reflect the rich culinary traditions of immigrant populations.

Home economists also responded to some of the major national crises of the twentieth century. During the Great Depression, for example, they provided guidance on selecting a healthful diet with limited means. And during the two world wars, they stressed the importance of meat and sugar substitutes, the need for food preservation, and the challenge of maintaining high nutritional standards despite wartime shortages.

continue to Corpulency,
Leanness & Dietary Reform

early cookbooks
american taste
the elegant table
temperance and prohibition
food nutrition and science
corpulency, leanes, and dietary reform
kitchen technology
food processing and manufacture


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