This historical study of developments in cookery considers it as a vehicle for widespread improvement in public health in late nineteenth century and early twentieth-century Britain. In this period cookery came to be recognized as a public issue and not only as a private or domestic matter. Cookery came to be seen as an aspect of practical preventive medicine and as an important part of medical care. Furthermore, because cookery was obviously connected to questions of how to prepare and eat food, it required a basic understanding of personal cleanliness and hygienic food handling. This book shows how scientific knowledge about nutrition and healthcare was delivered to the general public through cookery, especially when linked to educational activities. Such knowledge was delivered in schools by teachers, in hospitals through nursing, and in the armed services by medical officers and hospital staff. Examining all these has revealed the growing interest in and the diverse connections between cooking, nutrition and healthcare across British society. The establishment of the National Training School of Cookery in London in 1873 opened a new era in cookery education. The School trained cookery teachers to be instructors in elementary schools, hospitals and the armed services. To date, the role of cookery in school education, nursing, the British Army and the Royal Navy has invariably been treated as additional within their mainstream histories. Its contribution has never been highlighted in academic research, even though its effectiveness was recognized by contemporary doctors, scientists and women educationalists. This book, using evidence from archival records, shows the progress made in all activities related to diet and healthcare, many of which were new to medicine. At the same time it explores the many challenges and struggles faced by those who undertook this work in the complex areas of sanitation, medicine, food supply and general habits.
Feeding the Nation
Nutrition and Health in Britain Before World War One