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March is Nutrition Month across Canada! This means demonstrating the benefits of cooking together: strengthening family ties, passing on valued traditions, teaching new skills, and improving the family diet.
In this context, it can be very interesting to take a close look at what was done in the past to provide healthy and wholesome foods to Canadians, particularly in view of our strong agricultural past.
The Early Canadiana Online Collection and the Canadiana Discovery Portal provide a large variety of 18th- and 19th-century material on this topic from cooking tips to journals with articles on nutrition to advice on growing vegetables. Here is a small sampling.
The Frugal Housewife's Manual (1840) contains cooking tips and recipes as well as information about growing vegetables for the family.
Hints on health and tested receipts for plain cooking, written by Jury & Lovell, druggists, Bowmanville, Ont. offers "tested recipes for plain cooking which will materially contribute to the health of the family..." As was often typical for 19th century popular publications on health, the underlying purpose of this recipe book is to promote a product - in this case, Vinol (a cod liver oil & iron preparation). Below are recipes for making cakes.
Cookery ,by Amy G. Richards, is a late 19th. century Canadian cookbook providing hundreds of recipes and nutritional advice.
The Canadian Settler's Guide - A comprehesive guide to settling in Canada, including sections on the making of maple syrup, growing of grape vines, harvesting of Indian rice and many other interesting topics.
An Inuit woman preparing food in Nunavut in 1949. Photo provided by Library and Archives Canada.
Making Dawson Plum Jam at E.D.Smith's in Winona, Ontario in 1911. Photo provided by Library and Archives Canda.
Apple packing room in Kentville, Nova Scotia in 1911. Photo provided by Library and Archives Canada.
In addition to these texts and images, there is a large selection of journals which deals with diverse topics such as growing fruit in The Canadian Horticulturist, general health and nutrition issues in The Canada Health Journal or edible wild mushrooms. To find these and many other 19th-century publications and other items about food and nutrition, use key words such as "Food preparation", "Food recipes" or "Nutrition."