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Historical Dietary Guidelines

Historical Dietary Guidelines

Last week, the United States Department of Agriculture announced the launch of it’s new Historical Dietary Guideline Digital Collection. Being the history buffs that we are, we decided to take a look at some of the recommendations about diet that had been made historically. We probably shouldn’t have been surprised to find a few interesting tidbits – but we got to the first document and were surprised at several things! 

We looked first at the printed version of a 1942 document called “3 Market Lists for Low-Cost Meals,” under the “Dietary” category. The PDF download is a throwback to a time when the United States had just gotten into World War II and was sending personnel and equipment overseas as fast as we could churn them out. What was surprising in this document was there was no mention of rationing. We suspect that this is due to the fact that the U.S. had only recently entered the war effort and the troop and material engine was still getting up to speed. Whatever the case, we were shocked when we saw the recommended weekly guidelines for fruits and vegetables! 

In 1942, if you were a child between the ages of 9 and 12, it was recommended that, between tomatoes and citrus fruits, that you consume 1 pound, 8 ounces each week. This is in addition to “other vegetables and fruits” recommendations of 2 pounds, 12 ounces if you were between 7 and 9, or 3 pounds, 4 ounces if you were between 10 and 12, or a girl of any age (except those nursing). For boys over age 12, the recommendation was anywhere between 1 pound, 8 ounces and 2 pounds for tomatoes and citrus fruits. The guideline goes on to recommend between 3 pounds, 4 ounces and four pounds, 4 ounces of “other vegetables and fruit.”

This was far more fruits and vegetables than we expected to see! Understandably, the world was a different place, and we’re not recommending that we revert to these standards – only that the recommendations were interesting. Especially interesting if you look at it on an annual basis:

Group Weekly
Tomatoes & Citrus
Vegetables & Other Fruit
Tomatoes & Citrus
Vegetables & Other Fruit
Children 9 – 12 months 2 pounds 8 ounces 104 pounds 26 pounds
 1 – 3 years 8 ounces 1 pound, 8 ounces 26 pounds 78 pounds
4 – 9 1 pound, 8 ounces 2 pounds, 12 ounces 78 pounds 143 pounds
Girls 10 – 20 years 1 pound, 8 ounces 3 pounds, 4 ounces 78 pounds 169 pounds
Except those pregnant or nursing
1 pound, 8 ounces 3 pounds, 4 ounces 78 pounds 169 pounds
Pregnant women 2 pounds 3 pounds, 4 ounces 104 pounds 169 pounds
Nursing women 3 pounds, 8 ounces 5 pounds, 4 ounces 182 pounds 273 pounds
Boys, 13 – 20 2 pounds 4 pounds, 4 ounces 104 pounds 221 pounds
Men 1 pound, 8 ounces 3 pounds, 4 ounces 78 pounds 169 pounds

All of this is in addition to the recommended weekly intake of potatoes and sweet potatoes, dry beans, peas, and nuts, leafy, green or yellow vegetables. All total, the 1942 recommendation varied between 104 pounds and 299 pounds of those ingredients each year! 

No matter how you slice it – that’s a lot of fruits and vegetables! How many fruits and veggies do you think you eat each year?



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Brothers-All-Natural is committed to providing healthy snacks for all ages. Our freeze-dried Fruit Crisps are 100% Fruit, Nothing Else! No preservatives, no added sugar, no colorings, and no flavor enhancers! A delicious, healthy, & convenient fruit snack - The one Mother Nature would eat! Check out our line of Disney fruit snacks for the kids; a fun way for a child to get two full servings of fruit!

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