7 Food Lessons from the Great Depression


One of the most common sense methods to getting around starvation is to grow food anywhere you can. If people weren’t built into cities they used whatever dirt they could to grow food in. Starvation was one of the most alarming parts about the great depression. The growers and farmers’ prices dropped by 50% and the surplus of food could not be sold for profit.

This is a point that is often missed on our society. We have tons of people who hate the food system but very few who are making a strong effort to grow their own food.


We fought hard for our ability to raise chickens in the Richmond city limits. It took about a year of badgering the city council but we pulled it off. Now we have access to fresh eggs every morning.

The rules were not as strict during the depression and things like ducks, chickens, and even rabbits were raised as food. This is a great lesson from the famine of the depression that people are just beginning to understand


Whether it was the use of salt, smoke or the removal of oxygen through canning preservation was an incredibly important factor in stretching food through the great depression. When you were lucky enough to have meat, it had to be eaten and stretched and preserved with excellence and little to no waste. For many there was no guarantee of a next time.

We must regard our meat with the same respect and appreciation. Drying food, curing it and smoking it not only work on shelf life but they also impart great flavor.


An idea that has taken many people by storm, this push towards buying locally was truly the only option during the days of the depression. There were no other options. This relationship with local farmers and shopkeepers is so important. If we see another depression similar to that of the 30’s many will be dependent on places like Amazon and Walmart to feed and clothe them. These are retailers that produce absolutely nothing.

You must get to know producers.


Hunting was a serious endeavor in the age of the depression. For many it was hunting that put food on the table. This increase of demand on wild game affected the numbers in a big way. The hunting of these animals made them scarce for many years in some areas. The use of wildlife management has since brought many populations back.

With 300 million people in the nation hunting will only work early on. The game would all be taken very quickly. Still, it doesn’t take many animals to feed a family for a year so getting a deer or two early on would certainly be a worthwhile endeavor.


The idea of reusing and preserving material items like clothes, shoes and items around the house is so foreign in this throwaway society. Of course, any money saved on material items could be put towards heating and feeding the family. These would have taken precedence over a new dress or new shoes.

It wasn’t uncommon for a young boy to have 1 pair of shoes and one pair of pants that were cut offs of an older dead man’s pants. It was sheer necessity and we could use the idea to reuse or repair to improve our own finances and lives.


Though it may seem simple, the challenges of keeping warm and keeping hot food on the table made fuel a definite concern for many who were struggling in the depression. These struggles were greater in the compacted cities across the nation. Coal was used as well but it all came at a cost.

We could learn the importance of a cord of wood from our great grandparents. You should invest in a diverse array of methods for heating your home and cooking. This could include wood stoves, pellet stoves and electric generators.

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