Dinner at Beaver Cleaver’s

The pet food recall brought home to some of us the changes in animal nutrition that have taken place since the mid-20th century. Rover’s and Fluffy’s table scraps were replaced by scientifically-formulated slop and kibble that aimed to provide optimum, all-life-stages nutrition.

We know that this is a highly profitable way of reusing the waste from the human food industry. Ground up and rendered bits that are not fit for human consumption, including 4-D and euthanized animals, can be reformulated into big bucks chow. Kind of like enriching potato chips with vitamins and preservatives, only a lot worse.

Read Ann Martin’s “Food Pets Die For” to find out why Rover and Fluffy are running up such big vet bills.

Food Pets Die For

Menu Foods

Anyway, to the topic at hand, it is no surprise that the agro-food chain presents us humans with more choices to become fat and sick too. Or not.

Here’s a vintage photo from Life Magazine of what the American poster family ate in the 1950’s.

Family in 1950s

“In this remarkable picture of plenty, Steve Czekalinski, his wife Stephanie and his sons, Stephen and Henry, are surrounded by the food they will have eaten this year – 2 ½ tons of it. The photograph, made for the Du Pont company’s magazine Better Living, is based on statistics on the American diet supplied by the Department of Agriculture.”

The story is here:

Dinner in the 1950s

When Harold Evans was writing his history of the hundred years from 1889 to 1989, The American Century, he sifted through something like thirty thousand photographs, paintings, and cartoons, and chose the Czekalinski family picture.

“I am drawn to Alex Henderson’s carefully posed 1951 descriptive photograph of the Du Pont worker Steve Czekalinski with his wife and two boys. They are framed amid a cornucopia of good food, the 669 bottles of milk, 578 pounds of meat, 131 dozen fresh eggs, 440 pounds of fresh fruit, the coffee, cereal, flour, and so on that the typical American family enjoyed in the booming mid-fifties. It’s a materialistic and commercial image, and some will object to that, but the pursuit of plenty has been an American preoccupation—and the business of America is business, is it not? I admit I hesitated long before nominating the Czekalinski, but it also has something of the American character—it is an honest, unpretentious boast—and it suggests the central story of America in the twentieth century. Here is a man of Polish descent standing proudly and happily with his family, enjoying a prosperity never before known in the history of the world. A photograph that hints at a fulfillment of the American dream is not a bad way of marking the end of the millennium.”

Image of the Century

More recently, CNN ran a pictorial comparison of what people around the world eat in a week and what they spend on their groceries.

Family Dinners Around the World

An interesting study of choices, particularly for those affluent enough to have so many.

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