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Instructions: Label your answers with the numbers of each question. Make sure your answers are in numerical order.When writing your answers, incorporate as many details as you can, including dates, specific people, events, places, etc. As this is a take-home exam, you are going to be held to higher writing standards than you would for an in-class exam. Make sure to have an argument, as well as an introduction and conclusion; cite your sources if you’re referencing readings; and edit carefully. You can only use materials from the class provided.1.Essay (30 points)Throughout the term we have seen many instances where food has been a tool or symbol of power. Give three detailed examples from the lectures and/or readings where this has been the case, noting any patterns or trends you see over time.2.Essay (30 points)The authors and directors of week 10’s readings below deal with modern problems with America’s food production and consumption. Where have you seen precedents for these issues in the readings from earlier in the term? Give three detailed examples from our readings about innovations, technologies, or policies that have either led to issues that we are wrestling with today.……3.Essay (30 points)While visiting old friends over the spring break, you mention that you recently finished taking a food history class.One of your friends laughs and says “does that even count as real history?” Calmly, and using at least three detailed examples, explain to your friend some of the lessons that we can learn about US history through the lens of food.4.Short Answer (10 points)Consider the image below. The only information we have is that this image is from a California fair in 1905. How do the readings from this term help you analyze the image?


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Brian McCammack
Black Migrant Foodways in the “Hog Butcher for the World”
Many African American migrants who streamed into Chicago between the world wars
traveled on the Illinois Central Railroad from southern states like Mississippi, Alabama,
Louisiana, and Tennessee, arriving on the city’s near South Side. Even shorter journeys took
several hours, and many migrants packed food along with all their worldly possessions. Perhaps
anxious about how they would feed themselves and their families in a strange land and, more
broadly, sensing just how radically altered their connections to nature might be upon arriving in
the nation’s second largest city, many brought more food than necessary to sustain them for their
train ride alone. As Isabel Wilkerson notes in The Warmth of Other Suns, migrants carried with
them “all kinds of things, live chickens and rabbits, a whole side of a pig […] jars of fig
preserves, pole beans, snap peas, and peaches, whole hams, whatever the folks back home were
growing on the farm,” clinging to comforting elements of the South they left behind, many for
good.1 Nearly a quarter-million black Chicagoans undertook similar journeys in the interwar era,
when the city’s black population grew more than six-fold to almost 280,000, more than
quadrupling African Americans’ share of the population to 8.2 percent.2
The very same train lines that brought those thousands of black migrants to Chicago
continued to connect them to Southern environments, even years after they settled into routines
of eating at South Side restaurants and, more commonly, buying food from grocers, peddlers,
Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (New York: Random
House, 2010), 295-296. See also Frederick Douglass Opie, Hog & Hominy: Soul Food from Africa to America (New
York: Columbia University Press, 2008), 56-57; and William M. Tuttle, Race Riot: Chicago in the Red Summer of
1919 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996), 95. On food and travel, see chapter 4 in Psyche Williams-Forson,
Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, and Power (Chapel Hill: The University of North
Carolina Press, 2006).
St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton, Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1993 [1945]), 8-9.
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and butchers for home cooking.3 Timuel Black, who migrated to Chicago as a small child in
1919, recalled that his uncle who remained in Alabama was convinced that “his poor brother was
starving to death” in Chicago, in large part because he “couldn’t imagine not having a garden,
not having in the back a chicken roost and all that.”4 So Black’s uncle sent live chickens by
freight train to his brother’s family on the South Side, and when he visited them in the city, “he
still couldn’t believe that we didn’t need something to eat. So he brought some chickens with
him and raw eggs.”5 Jimmy Ellis, whose parents migrated to Chicago in the 1920s, similarly
recalled that his grandfather, a farmer who stayed behind in Alabama, sent “pecans and peanuts
and molasses.”6 Far from uncommon, sending Southern foods to relatives in Chicago helped
maintain cultural and familial ties. But they would not have been nearly enough to sustain a
family. What did Black, Ellis, and thousands of other migrants eat in this bustling city far away
from the home they knew? How different were those foods from what they had consumed in the
South, and what does that tell us about their connections to nature during the Great Migration?
To an extent that may be surprising given how dramatically other aspects of migrants’
lives changed—and was no doubt surprising to the migrants who traveled with southern foods as
well as the relatives who continued to send food North—migrant foodways actually remained
largely unchanged in Chicago. This was true for three reasons, all of which speak to the extent
migrants had already been integrated into and exploited by regional, national, and even global
industrial networks that transported foodstuffs, collapsing distinctions between very distinct
Although restaurants represented important sites of cooking and eating on Chicago’s South Side, this essay focuses
on home-cooking and eating because working-class black migrant families ate at restaurants relatively rarely simply
to save money. See, for instance, Davis and Durham, interview with the author, January 20, 2010. More broadly, see
Turner, How the Other Half Ate, 59-85. On black Chicagoans and restaurants, see Grossman, Land of Hope, 150155; Poe, “Food, Culture, and Entrepreneurship,” 33-73; Turner, How the Other Half Ate, 73-74; and CCRR, The
Negro in Chicago, 309-316.
Timuel Black, interview with the author, July 27, 2010.
Timuel Black, interview with the author, January 21, 2010.
Jimmy Ellis, interview with the author, July 26, 2010.
Brian McCammack
environments. First and most important, whether they lived in the North or the South, low wages
combined with high food prices to restrict what working-class African Americans could buy. The
women who generally controlled household budgets spent the vast majority of their family’s
income on necessities and stretching tight budgets meant a heavy reliance on cheaper food
staples.7 Second, modern transportation networks made familiar, affordable foods available to
migrants in Chicago. The same rail lines that brought relatives’ shipments of southern foods to
Black’s and Ellis’s families transported food to urban markets and groceries on a much grander
scale. As Wilkerson notes, migrants “could be assured of finding the same southern peasant
food, the same turnip greens, ham hocks, corn bread in Chicago as in Mississippi.”8 In large part
that familiarity stemmed from those distribution networks operating both ways: for decades
black Southerners had consumed foodstuffs from across the country, including meat from
Chicago’s packinghouses. With the same foods available North and South, recipes and cooking
methods that Southern black women developed over generations translated easily to Chicago’s
kitchens. Third, as those well-developed transportation networks suggest, diets remained fairly
constant because women responsible for balancing family budgets and cooking meals purchased
most food on the market. In the urban North, limited space and cultural taboos worked against
keeping small livestock or cultivating a garden, and the women who likely would have tended to
such sites of domestic production often took on work in the city’s laundries, kitchens, and
factories instead. Similarly, while livestock and small gardens were more common in the urban
South, they generally did not produce enough to sustain families. In the rural South, meanwhile,
This essay adds to the growing body of food studies scholarship that uses “food as a way to articulate spaces and
relationships of power” and answers Nicolaas Mink’s call to “begin in the belly” by “pursu[ing] the role of
consumption [rather than production] in environmental history.” Robert N. Chester III and Nicolaas Mink, “Having
Our Cake and Eating It Too: Food’s Place in Environmental History, A Forum,” Environmental History 14 (April
2009), 311; Nicolaas Mink, “It Begins in the Belly,” Environmental History 14 (April 2009), 314, 318.
Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns, 339. See also Tracy Nicole Poe, “Food, Culture, and Entrepreneurship
among African-Americans, Italians, and Swedes in Chicago” (Ph.D., Harvard University), 48.
Brian McCammack
the main impediment was a tenant farming system that effectively coerced entire families into
producing a cash crop that left little time or autonomy for cultivating substantial food crops or
raising livestock.
Like most working-class families throughout the interwar era, black Chicagoans devoted
a substantial portion of income to food purchases. The poorer you were, the higher proportion of
your income you needed to spend on food, and most black migrants were among the poorest of
the poor.9 Observing a trend that held throughout the interwar era, the Chicago Commission on
Race Relations (CCRR) found in the early 1920s that food was the single largest monthly
expenditure for virtually every working-class black family in Chicago, easily outpacing rent and
other necessities, and sometimes exceeding half of the family’s income.10 So while black
migrants tended to enjoy higher wages in Chicago than in the South, higher prices meant that
they still devoted substantial income to food.11 Many black Southerners had hoped to escape
these exploitative economies that pushed some families to the brink of starvation—one
prospective migrant in rural Mississippi wrote that, “Wages is so low and grocery is so high
untill [sic] all I can do is to live” and another in rural Louisiana said similar conditions there
meant that “thousands of us can bearly [sic] keep body and soul together,” for example.12 But for
many migrants, moving to Chicago did little to resolve that fundamental economic tension. One
migrant mother believed that living in Chicago was actually harder than sharecropping in rural
See Katherine Turner, How the Other Half Ate: A History of Working Class Meals at the Turn of the Century
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014).
Chicago Commission on Race Relations (CCRR), The Negro in Chicago: A Study of Race Relations and a Race
Riot (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1922), 162-165, 172-176. See also Leila Houghteling, The Income and
Standard of Living of Unskilled Laborers in Chicago (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1927), 20-21, 94;
and Drake and Cayton, Black Metropolis, 437.
These figures appear to have been fairly consistent nationwide. See Paul K. Edwards, The Southern Urban Negro
as a Consumer (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1932), 42; and Richard Sterner, The Negro’s Share: a Study of Income,
Consumption, Housing and Public Assistance (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1943), 95.
Emmett J. Scott, “More Letters of Negro Migrants of 1916-1918,” The Journal of Negro History 4.4 (October
1919), 419, 423.
Brian McCammack
Georgia, observing, “In the South you could rest occasionally, but here, where food is so high
and one must pay cash, it is hard to come out even.”13 Another black mother faced similar
challenges, telling a Chicago interviewer in 1929, “my children would eat between meals if they
had something to eat, but I cannot afford any more meals. I have 3 meals a day and I divide what
there is between them.”14
All consumers faced high food prices, but black Chicagoans’ food budgets were further
constricted by race discrimination that depressed wages, confined families to segregated
neighborhoods where landlords charged extortionate rents, and forced wives and mothers to
work outside the home to supplement their husbands’ meager incomes.15 To cope, black
migrants often took in lodgers—whether extended family members, friends, or strangers—who
received a room and often home-cooked meals in exchange for paying a portion of the monthly
rent.16 The couple who had been Georgia sharecroppers, for example, lived with their grown
daughter and her husband as well as a nephew; all of them contributed to rent and took meals
together.17 Home cooking was also a prominent feature of “rent parties,” in which renters opened
their homes to all comers for a night, charging a small admission fee for a night of food and
entertainment—all in order to make rent that month. Native Son author Richard Wright recalled
that at rent parties in Chicago he “drank home-brewed beer, ate spaghetti and chitterlings,
laughed and talked with black, southern-born girls who worked as domestic servants in white
middle-class homes.”18
CCRR, The Negro in Chicago, 172.
Eva Boggs, “Nutrition of Fifty Colored Families in Chicago” (MA, University of Chicago, 1929), 28.
See Houghteling, The Income and Standard of Living, 25; chapter VIII in CCRR, The Negro in Chicago; and
chapter 9 in Drake and Cayton, Black Metropolis.
See CCRR, The Negro in Chicago, 154-165; and Edith Abbott, The Tenements of Chicago, 1908-1935 (Chicago:
The University of Chicago Press, 1936), 125.
CCRR, The Negro in Chicago, 170-171.
Richard Wright, Black Boy (New York: HarperCollins Perennial Classics 1998 [1945]), 278. See also Wilkerson,
The Warmth of Other Suns, 277; Opie, Hog & Hominy, 90; and Davarian Baldwin, Chicago’s New Negroes:
Brian McCammack
Even as their husbands’ low wages meant that they increasingly worked outside the
home, black women largely adhered to longstanding gender norms and cooked virtually all the
food served in their homes, rent parties included. Consistent with Wright’s recollections, nearly
half of the black mothers surveyed in 1927 worked outside the home, most commonly taking on
domestic labor like cooking, cleaning, or sewing for white families.19 In some cases, women
worked explicitly to help feed their families. One migrant mother, the matriarch of a farming
family that came from rural Alabama, took up “housekeeping to reduce the food bill,” even as
her husband and son worked in the stockyards and her daughter worked in a laundry.20 Women’s
wage labor outside the home meant that other family members sometimes needed to pick up the
slack at mealtime. The CCRR found, for instance, that, “when the mother is away all day the
food is hastily prepared, which usually means that it is fried. The girl who gets home from school
before her mother has finished her day’s work usually starts the dinner, or brings something from
the delicatessen.”21 Perhaps that was why the Chicago Defender, the nation’s premier African
American newspaper, published a regular column aimed specifically at girls that featured easyto-make recipes for dishes like spaghetti, chili mac, and grilled cheese.22 The Defender may have
Modernity, the Great Migration, & Black Urban Life (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007), 164165.
Less than twenty percent of white working-class women did the same, in part because their husbands’ wages were
higher. Houghteling, The Income and Standard of Living, 56-57. On black women’s labor, see also CCRR, The
Negro in Chicago, 378-385; Boggs, “Nutrition of Fifty Colored Families in Chicago,” 9; Drake and Cayton, Black
Metropolis, 214-232; and Alma Herbst, The Negro in the Slaughtering and Meat-Packing Industry in Chicago (New
York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1932), 75-80. On black women and foodways more generally, see WilliamsForson, Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs; Jessica B. Harris, High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa
to America (New York: Bloomsbury, 2011); Anne L. Bower, ed., African American Foodways: Explorations of
History and Culture (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007); and Jennifer Jensen Wallach, ed., Dethroning the
Deceitful Pork Chop: Rethinking African American Foodways from Slavery to Obama (Fayetteville: The University
of Arkansas Press, 2015). More broadly on class, gender, and cooking in the early twentieth century, see chapter 5 in
Turner, How the Other Half Ate.
CCRR, The Negro in Chicago, 96. See also ibid., 170-171.
Ibid., 264. See also Turner, How the Other Half Ate, 83-84.
The regular column initially appeared in 1922 under the title “How to Make”; it ran until 1929 before being
replaced by “Bud’s Little Girl Cooks,” which ran until the mid-1940s. See, for example, “How to Make,” The
Chicago Defender November 4, 1922, 14; and “Bud’s Little Girl Cooks,” The Chicago Defender October 12, 1929,
A3. These and all subsequent Defender citations refer to the National Edition.
Brian McCammack
catered to that working-class reality, but it also fostered middle-class uplift: the same year the
CCRR issued its findings, a column in the “Junior” page for boys and girls stated its aim was “to
instill into the minds of our girls to become good cooks first of all. Be better than the average.
Let your cooking be such that everyone in your home and in your vicinity can brag about it.”23
By the same token, the Defender regularly featured recipes on the “Womans Page” in the early
1920s, encouraging contributions from “housewives who have dainty or sensible recipes they use
[which could] give other women the benefit of discoveries made in your own home.”24 The
poverty of the Great Depression only further challenged mothers trying to provide for families,
however. At Chicago’s first Bud Billiken Day picnic (an annual event created by the Defender in
1930 as the Depression deepened), the newspaper wrote that, “Mothers will be asked to bring
along an old fashioned basket filled with goodies [… but] Because so many of the children will
be without the food, Bud is planning to have ‘eats’ for them” including free hot dogs and ice
cream.25 Free food for children remained a staple of the celebration: in 1935, for example, the
Defender noted, “The park was filled with picnickers—large baskets were uncovered and huge
mounds of food lifted out. There was no selfishness shown and the spirit was beautiful. The few
unfortunate children not having parents or guardians able to fix them a lunch, were gathered to
the breast of some other good mother who could fully appreciate the little child’s feelings, and
each was fed until satisfied.”26
The Defender’s annual picnic symbolized the way black Chicagoans came together to
support one another amidst adversity, but the longer history of reformers urging the working
classes to rectify dietary insufficiencies reveals the sometimes tense intraracial class politics
“Girls’ Work,” The Chicago Defender June 10, 1922, A2.
“The Defender Cook Book,” The Chicago Defender April 9, 1921, 5.
“Kiddies Make Plans for Bud’s Big Picnic,” Chicago Defender July 5, 1930, A3. “Bud Billiken” was a character
the Defender created for its youth club.
Goldie M. Walden, “Children at Picnic Return Home Safely,” Chicago Defender August 24, 1935, 5.
Brian McCammack
underlying migrant foodways. A doctor who wrote a regular health column in the Defender, for
instance, exhorted his readers to “buy more fruits and less meats. We should use more fruits in
our diet than we do, especially during [the summer], because they contain great nutritive
properties.”27 Several years later, upon observing a woman who regularly bought pork neck
bones at the butcher, the columnist similarly reflected that, “Our diet should be a well-balanced
one. It is not a good thing to eat at all times neck bones or pork chops, potatoes, bread and
gravy.”28 These were the most affordable foods, however, particularly in times of economic
distress. Reformers rightly believed in the health benefits of a diversified diet, but they also
highlighted the marked class divide between the few black Chicagoans who could afford fruits
and vegetables and the many who could not. Urging migrants to abandon a diet heavy in meats,
fats, and starches was rooted in a desire to distance black Chicagoans from foodways redolent of
the South that were often deemed less respectable and even embarrassing by the black middleand upper-classes.29 At other times, however, reformers acknowledged that a balanced diet was
an ideal perhaps unattainable—or even inadvisable—for manual laborers who needed to
consume a lot of calories on a tight budget. After the i …
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