Ellen G. White: The Progressive Years: 1862-1876 (vol. 2)


The Dietary Program in the White Home

Dear Sister,

I am ...too weak to write more than a few brief words. From the light God has been pleased to give me, butter is not the most healthful article of food. It taxes the digestive organs more severely than meat. We place no butter upon our table. Our vegetables are generally cooked with milk or cream and made very palatable. We have a generous diet which consists in the preparation of apples, vegetables, and grains in a skillful manner. We have but little pie upon our table and cake is seldom seen there; no luxuries or dainties. 2BIO 302.5

Everything is plain yet wholesome because it is not merely thrown together in a haphazard manner. We have no sugar on our table. Our sauce which is our dependence is apples, baked or stewed into sauce, sweetened as required before being put upon the table. We use milk in small quantities. Sugar and milk used at the same time is hard for the digestive organs, clogs the machinery. 2BIO 303.1

I know no reason why you cannot set just as good a table as we do. We have nothing but the simplest articles prepared in a variety of ways, all strictly hygienic. We have cracked wheat; for a change, cracked corn. We then take sorghum molasses, put water with it and boil it thoroughly, stir in a little thickening of flour, and this we eat on our puddings, graham or cracked wheat, or cracked corn. 2BIO 303.2

Why health reformers complain of poor diet is they don't know how to cook, and should learn. We think a moderate amount of milk from a healthy cow not objectionable. We seldom prepare our food with butter. When we cannot obtain milk, we use a very trifle in some articles of vegetables. We make a milk gravy thickened with flour for our potatoes, not a particle of butter in the gravy. We have no meat on our table. I live extremely plain myself. My wants are easily satisfied. 2BIO 303.3

We have but one cow. She gives but a very little milk. We have made this little do the cooking and table use for a company of from twelve to twenty which have sat at our table all winter and spring. Nearly all the time we average sixteen. We cannot obtain cream to use, but we should use more of it could we get it to use. I greatly object to an impoverished diet. 2BIO 303.4

If you can get apples you are in a good condition, as far as fruit is concerned, if you have nothing else. We have beans at every meal, well cooked with a little salt and a tablespoonful of sugar, which makes them more palatable.—Letter 5, 1870. 2BIO 303.5

After Ellen mentioned by name the wife of one of the ministers who was not adhering to health reform in cooking and advised others not to look to her as an example, she entered into a further discussion of eggs and dairy products: 2BIO 303.6

If you have eggs, use them as your judgment shall dictate, yet I would say for children of strong animal passions they are positively injurious. The same may be said of adults. I do not think such large varieties of fruit are essential, yet they should be carefully gathered and preserved in their season for use when there are no apples to be had. I use but little fruit beside baked apples, although we have other kinds. 2BIO 304.1

I would not advise you to set aside milk or a moderate use of eggs, moderate use of sugar. Meat I am decided does us no good, but only harm, except a person who is robbed of vitality may need a little meat to stimulate a few times. I again say, more depends upon thoughtfulness and skill in the preparation of the articles you have than of the variety or quality. Apples are superior to any fruit for a standby that grows.—Ibid. 2BIO 304.2

She was writing from Battle Creek, where for much of the year there was available a much broader choice of food than in the newer Midwestern States. 2BIO 304.3