Cooking Up History


Why and How to Use Milk was released in April of 1936 during the later years of the Great Depression. This severe economic downturn greatly affected North American markets, including food and raw materials. When Why and How to Use Milk was released, many Canadians worried about food insecurity due to food shortages. In the 1920s, in the aftermath of the First World War, many North Americans desired to live lavishly after the gloominess of the war years. During the 1920s, North Americans took an abundant food supply for granted. Once food markets and supply chains were affected by the Great Depression, many Canadians found themselves struggling to pay for food. Job loss and wage decreases led to many North Americans experiencing malnourishment. In an effort to keep Canadians healthy, the Department of Agriculture released several cookbooks that not only promoted the sale and consumpion of Canadian agricultural products, but also instructed women on how to stretch their food budgets in times of financial strife. 



Why and How to Use Milk was both a cookbook and a promotional tool for the Canadian dairy industry. During the Great Depression, in Ontario, competition developed among milk producers. Consumers could not purchase as much, so farmers did everything they could to attract consumers. In the end, many dairy farms did not survive the Great Depression.

Though the Great Depression meant Canadians had to cut back on luxuries, they still wanted to eat tasty food. Special occasions were ideal times to indulge in one's favourite food or to create an extra special dessert. Perhaps some Canadians used Why and How to Use Milk for this purpose.  

This cookbook provides an important window into some of the ways that the Canadian government and the Department of Agriculture reacted to the Great Depression in Canada. Not only was Why and How to Use Milk an advertisement for the dairy industry, it also shows that Canadians were becoming increasingly concerned about health and, especially, how milk products might help infants and children to grow strong and healthy.


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