Read About Food Traditions on the Fox Family Farm

Most of the food was grown on the nearby plantation (called "The Point") or in the yard itself. Large numbers of hogs, beef cattle, sheep and goats provided meat. Pork was the most popular meat, prepared fresh, or prepared with salt in the smokehouse. Pork not only was eaten as a main dish, but was used to flavor vegetables and for cooking oil as well. Other meats, including poultry from the yard (chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, guineas, and pigeons), wild game (rabbits, deer, squirrels) and fish caught from nearby rivers and millponds would have been prepared fresh. Since there was not refrigeration, meat could not be kept long without salting. It was cooked quickly, often barbequed in hot weather, and was cooked well done to prevent food poisoning. Even today many Southerners prefer to eat well-done meats as a matter of choice since our ancestors cooked this way.

The plantation produced large amounts of corn, some of which was processed into corn meal, grits, or big hominy. Wheat was milled into flour, and rice was also grown. Dairy cows in the barnyard produced milk that was processed into cream, butter, buttermilk, and cheese. Peas, beans, cabbage, collards, turnips, squash, cucumbers, melons of all types, pumpkins, okra, tomatoes, and both sweet and Irish potatoes came from large kitchen gardens. Some of these vegetables could be dried to preserve them. From orchards came apples, pears, peaches, and plums, may types of berries, and a variety of nuts such as pecans and walnuts. Sugar, coffee, tea, and spices, some citrus fruits, and coconuts could be bought in Columbia and were closely regulated by Mrs. Fox. The best foods went to the dining room of the Fox house for the owner's family. Enslaved persons ate the plainer foods. Mrs. Fox had to make sure that enough food was prepared for everyone to eat, but not so much that anything was wasted. Take the Agricultural Census Challenge to find out the answers to the questions which follow. How many of these foods can you find listed on the census records for 1850? See if you can find out how many bushels of corn were produced in 1850? Compare that number to the one found in the 1870 Census. How are these records different? (Hilliard, 37)

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