Posted by: catalinamuseum | 02/25/2010

The Catalina Island Diet

As diets go, eating philosophies are a dime a dozen these days, and many of them along the line of getting ourselves out of the processed corner we have been cooked into by returning to a supposed older generation’s habit of consuming more whole foods.  Yet after seeing much of the cooking advice given in the old Catalina Islander newspaper archives, I am not sure if dietitians haven’t resorted to nostalgia and idealized the nutrition of our grandparents.  In fact, in the 1930s people were trying to get away from their grandmother’s cooking habits in order to put, in their idea, a more “healthy” offering on the table.

I found this nutrition advice article in the September 1931 Catalina Islander quite by accident and felt it was too silly not to share it with you here.  Hopefully this “vintage diet” will make you laugh, as it did all of us in the Research Center.  You can decide for yourself whether or not to take the advice that was given to these 1930s housewives:

Budgeting Calories – by Jane Rogers

Fewer, Well-Seasoned Vegetable Dishes Replace Quantity Offers of Grandmother’s Day

There was a time, not so long ago at that, when the house-wife felt it necessary that the principal meal of the day should always include three or four, or on special occasions even five, vegetable dishes.

Tables groaned under the weight of vegetables – potatoes, corn, beets, tomatoes, and carrots – and the strange part is that everyone accepted this as a matter of course.

Today, the housewife with one eye cocked toward the family budget and a wealth of dietetic and culinary advice at her fingertips, has learned how to limit the vegetable courses to two or possibly three dishes, and still meet all other demands of health and appetite.

Science has taught her that it is possible to provide all the vitamins, calories and other food elements needed by active people without stuffing them until they resembled the proverbial Thanksgiving turkey.

But along with the reduction in the quantity of foods served has come an added responsibility for the quality of the dishes.  The few vegetables should be served more attractively and with flavor more in mind than were the four or five dishes of grandmother’s day.

In France, methods of seasoning that give added zest to vegetable dishes have long been familiar to all experienced cooks and one of the seasoning agents more frequently used for this purpose is sugar.  A small amount – just a dash – helps to restore the natural sweetness which the vegetables lose after being picked, and when two or more vegetables are cooked together it tends to blend their contrasting flavors.

A few housewives have long used a little sugar in cooking certain vegetables, but not until recently has its use been general with green vegetables as a whole.

The sugar has another value recognized by science, but not so widely known to housewives.  It is a quickly assimilated energy food which becomes available for muscular use within a short time after it is eaten.

Thus, with this new trick of seasoning, not only is the flavor enhanced, but the food value of the dish as well.

So – to sum up, eat fewer vegetables and add more sugar.  Sounds like a great cooking philosophy to me!


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