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OUTLINE OF STUDIES ON FOOD HABITS IN RURAL SOUTHEAST MARC;ARET T. CUSSLER and MARY L. DE GIVE GENERAL CIIARACTERIZATION A series of three studies was carried on to ascertain the interrelations be- tween the socio-cultural pattern and nutrition in three contrasting communi- ties, field work in the summer of ~940 and during ~94~-~942. The general method included intensive open-ended interviews cross checked by extensive interviews and survey calf available technical data. Bath' North Carolina I. A sociological study of a Coastal Plain tobacco community involving analysis of factors like economy, food production, storage, distribution, health, and education in relation to nutritional adequacy of the community. Results. Analysis of the diet and interpretation of interrelations ~ncor- porated in later general summary given below. 2. A follow-up study ~ year later to ascertain changes in food practices and attitudes toward food with particular reference to the National Nutri- tion Campaign. Results. ~ ~ Relatively few of the people were securing scientific nutri- tional information since radios, newspapers, magazines, and clubs were reach- ing only a third of the rural population. No government nutritional programs were affecting all tl~e people in ~94~. ~ ~ There is still both a very serious milk deficiency and a dislike for milk and dairying. 3) Enriched flour was neither asked for by the rural people nor available in the local stores. 4) Longer . ~AL ~- tenure should be encouraged since it has a very important relation to canning, orchards, winter gardens, fencing, and equipment in the hone. There was a deficiency in both canning and growth of winter gardens among all classes. Available Reports: I. Interrelations between the cultural pattern and nutrition. Extension Ser- vice Circular No. 366. Washington, D. C., United States Department of Agriculture, August ~94~. a. Let's look it in the eye. Consumers' Guide. Washington, D. C., Unitecl States Department of Agriculture, March ~5, ~942. 3. Some cultural factors affecting the nutritional situation. Washington, D. C., I*ederal Security Agency, Nutrition Division, December ~94~. Unpublished. ~ Dutch Fork, South Carolina A reconnaissance study of a live-at-home community with a Sw-iss-German (Pennsylvania Dutch:) cultural tradition. Results. A brief study indicated some positive correlation between an inte- grated cultural pattern including characteristics of good farming, community tog
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IIO The Problem of Changing Food Habits pride, thrift, industriousness, stress on community schools, and the general standards of nutrition. It was also suggested that the very characteristics which comprised this particular cultural complex, and which manifested them- selves in subsistence farms, were opposed to wartime expansion that would supply a food surplus. Available Report: I. Home-grown food and homely virtues. Washington, D. C., Federal Se- curity Agency, Nutrition Division, February ~942. (:Unpublished.) flab erg and Flat Rock, Georgia I. A six-week test program to discoverer the relative effectiveness of various media in producing improvements in the county nutrition program and in diffusing nutritional information. Results. A negative effectiveness of formal media for diffusing nutritional information was indicated except for definite short-range projects. Media used contacted mainly white owner, long-term sharecropper classes. 2. A study of the relation between the food pattern and ~) the social structure and ~) the local cultural values, using intensive interviews with selected informants. The Food Pattern and the Social Structure I. At present a cash crop (tobacco or cotton) economy seems to impede good nutrition in the South. Landlord-tenant relations affect nutrition for good or ill, depending upon their individual character. 2. All classes show variations in their level of diet, summer and winter, harvest and scarcity, weekday and Sunday, extra-routine and routine menus. 3. In general, White owners and long-term sharecroppers eat more food in greater variety than the White sharecroppers, Negro owners and share- croppers, and White and Negro wage-lahorers. 4. The authoritarian type of Southern family enhances the influence of the parents, particularly the mother, in the formation of food habits. 5. Racial differences in diet follow the pattern of class differences in that Whites generally eat more and in greater variety than Negroes, and owners of both races eat more than sharecroppers and wage-laborers. No intrinsic differential in diet due to race was discovered. 6. Neighborhood relations have significance for nutrition, both in patterning the lines of communication between residents through which nutrition in- formation may diffuse and in patterning the distribution of the actual means of good nutrition, such as giving away of surpluses, lending of equipment, offering of services, etc. Decided preferences were found here. 7. Particular cultural concepts governing proper foods for persons in differ- ent circumstances of health, age, sex, etc., were found. Individual deviations from the food pattern which seemed to have no cultural patterning were also recorded. 8. Professional nutritionists in various agencies, both government and
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Food Habits in Rural Southeast educational, in a rural county, contact for the most part only the White owner and long-term sharecropper classes, but their influence in exchanging the traditional foodways for uniform national foodways is increasing. The relations with the doctor, the country storekeeper, and urban people are also becoming ever more influential in changing the regional foodways. 9. There are two main lines of communication operating in a rural South- eastern community: The horizontal class contacts, for example, between White owners and other White^owners, and the plantation contacts in which the line of communication extends vertically among the landlord, tenants, sharecroppers and wagehands of a single establishment. Each type of com- munication is important for the diffusion of knowledge and techniques of good nutrition. The Food Pattern and the Cultural Sanctions I. There is a valid relation between cultural values and such a component aspect of the culture as the food pattern. 2. Four configurations were apparent ir1 this Southeastern subculture: Traditionalism*) demonstrated in the foodways by the similarity of the older frontier dietary to the contemporary dietary, the disinclination to change methods of food production and preparation, and the failure of new cultural contacts to produce fundamental changes in food habits. Rationalists, observable in the foodways in the introduction (especially among White owner, long-term sharecropper classes) of some progressive methods of food production, stress on purchased as opposed to home-raised foods, and the feeling that urban foodways are superior to rural foodways. Affability, demonstrated in the foodways, in the catering to the food prefer- ences of members of the family, minimizing the possible trauma of weaning, the sanction for strong emotional attitudes toward such foods as milk, meat, sweets, and (in this locality) English peas, the lack of a strict schedule for mealtimes, and a tolerant attitude toward betweex~-meal eating. Social distinctions' shown in the foodways by the sanction for the ex- istence of food differences, for example, the attitude that the Negroes steed less food than Whites, that certain foods are light arid others heavy, that sonic have great prestige and others Less prestige as the following lists indicate: LIGHT Liquids. Milk. Pot Liquor. Hot Bread. Corn Bread. Blackberry Wine. Butter. Grits. Oatmeal. "HEAVY" Meat (fat meat and lean meat). Beans. English Peas. Cabbage. Eggs. Cake.
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I I ~ The Problems of Cha'zs/i~y Food Habits HIGHLY ESTEEMED ~. . ~ Home-raised Purchased LESS LiIGHLY ESTEEMED Chicken and Eggs. Beef. Dark Flour. Lorry Bread. Steak Fish. Yellow Corn Meal. White Flour. Ice Cream. Black Molasses. Vegetables. Oranges. Brown Sugar. Peaches. Celery. Internal Organs of Animals Pecans. Cauliflower. except Brains. Honey. Strawberries. Rabbit and Possum. Apples. Poke Salat. Cheese. English Peas. Bananas. Sweet Milk. Dates. Pineapple. Salmon. Boiled Ham. 3. Attitudes toward foods were found to comprise many non-rationalized components, that is, the reason for the value attached to chicken or hot bread did not seem to be apparent even to the informants themselves. In general, among the regional preferences may be seen particular regard for foods which are rare, store-bought, urban, packaged, canned, light colored, processed, refined, and changed in appearance. Available Reports: De Give, Mary L. Social interrelations and food habits in the rural southeast. Radcliffe College, ~943. Ph. D. thesis. a. Cussler, Margaret T. Cultural sanctions of the food pattern in the rural southeast. Radcliffe College, Ugly. Ph. D. thesis. 3. Cussler, Margaret T. and de Give, diary L. The effect of human rela- tions on food habits in the rural southeast. Applied Anthropology, i: i3- 18, ~942. Cussler, Margaret T. and de Give, LIary L. Foods and nutrition in our rural southeast. [ournal of Home Economics, 35: 280-282, 1943.