Monday, October 13, 2008

Facts About Rice

After the riots began, the city started distributing pamphlets about the nutritional values of rice.  This was in an attempt to persuade immigrants to replace their regular staple of potatoes with rice.  This was partially because rice was cheaper, but also because, as Dr. Haven Emerson (head of the NYC Health Department) apparently said, to stop immigrants from intruding their "European habits into the United States).

The pamphlets were distributed to schoolchildren and contained the following:

- 18 recipes for rice dishes, "cheap & nutritious"
- claims that rice contained more "strength-giving" material than potatoes, because potatoes are 3/4 water, while rice has practically no water.  
- suggestions of adding cheese, peas, beans or lentils to the rice
- a cartoon character, "Miss Grab-It-All" who attempted to teach some tenement dwellers how to make soup out of bones
- the assurance that rice would give children "practically all the food they'd need

This was documented by William Freiburger in "War, Prosperity & Hunger: The New York Food Riots of 1917."  Antoinette W. Satterfield also talks about the leaflet in her Master's paper for her M.S. in Library Science where she documented public disseminations from the U.S. Government to American housewives in the 1900's.  She noted that the leaflet also gave the tip to cook the rice in skim milk instead of water for added nutrients and recipes for desserts and bread, using rice.

My next mission is to track down a copy of this, if one still exists! 

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