Sunday, 15 March 2015

Myth Busting: Food Waste is not Just a Modern Problem

As well as being interested in historical cooking, I also like to read about modern simple living and frugality. While the simple living community is great, as a historian I often take issue with the idea that things were much better in some undefined 'past'.

One such assumption is that food waste is a modern problem. Though it is true that there used to be many well-loved recipes for using up leftovers, it doesn't necessarily follow that every homemaker was using them.

In the instructions for one such recipe that I am currently researching, that uses stale bread to make a new loaf, the author says: "This makes good bread, and is a good way to use up stale bread which would otherwise be thrown away" (1).

To me, this sounds very much like modern exhortations against waste, and goes to show that the 1860s homemaker wasn't always a paragon of environmental, fugal living.

For those of your interested in using this recipe to cut down your crust waste, I'll try to post it soon!

What historical assumptions do you notice when you read modern food and lifestyle blogs?

1.  RECIPES. (1866, January 13). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), p. 3. Retrieved March 16, 2015, from