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NAL-GC: Quarterly Review of NAL's General Collection


The NAL-GC will shut down on September 27, 2021. We've moved the content into the web site of the National Agricultural Library under Stories from the Collection.

There should be a fireless cooker in every kitchen in the land, because it does away with much of the drudgery which three meals a day three hundred and sixty-five days a year ordinarily entail. It is absolutely reliable. Think what it is to cook without having to stay in the kitchen to watch the food or to feed the fire. Food in a fireless cooker never burns nor dries up — it is sure to be done on time. A woman soon learns how much time the fireless cooker requires to cook given food. A fireless cooker is a faithful friend.

Frayser, Mary E. (1914). Fireless Cooking. Bulletin of the Winthrop Normal & Industrial College of South Carolina, Volume VII, Number 4, Part 2, p. 1. Available at:

While expediency is a factor often associated with a specific class of food (“convenience foods”) it has also been a long-standing consideration in all aspects of home food preparation, including kitchen design and actual cooking methods. The well-equipped kitchen of a century ago was envisioned in many home economics publications from the early twentieth century as a well-designed, pleasant place where all sorts of homemaking tasks could be performed efficiently and with minimum drudgery. At the beginning of the 1900s a specific cooking appliance gained prominence and was advocated by cookbook authors and U.S. Department of Agriculture home economists as a way to make delicious meals with minimum effort. This review will describe the development and rise of the fireless cooker, its status as a commercially marketed home kitchen appliance, and the fireless cooker's re-emergence within low-income countries.

The lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus L.) has a long and distinguished history that might surprise those of us who know it only as a humble ingredient of succotash.

The most important member [of the wild bean species group] is P. lunatus, the moon-shaped or the lima bean. Its name does come from the Peruvian capital of Lima, even though perversely it is pronounced 'lime-uh' in English. It is among the largest of beans and for those who were subjected to them in the form of canned limas, the memory of their pasty texture, bitter metallic aftertaste and lurid green color can only evoke the gag reflex. This is a pity, for when fresh or even dried they are among the most pleasant and affable of beans, hulking in proportions, gentle and sweet.

Albala, K. (2007). Beans: A History. New York: Berg, p. 191

This short review addresses the many roles played by the lima bean in culture, cuisine, and agricultural science. It also includes a small sample of the many publications produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to document the scientific development of lima beans and also to help farmers establish, grow, and manage this crop.

Gardening is essentially practical. There is nothing better fitted for the healthful development of children. It affords opportunity for spontaneous activity in the open air, and possibilities for acquiring a fund of interesting and related information; it engenders habits of thrift and economy; develops individual responsibility, and respect for the rights of others; requires regularity, punctuality, and constancy of purpose.

Miller, Louise Klein (1904). Children's Gardens for School and Home: A Manual of Cooperative Gardening. New York: D. Appleton and Company, p. 5

In 1906 the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that there were 75,000 school gardens in the United States (Jewell, 1907, pp. 37-38). The first American school garden was established in 1891 at the George Putnam School in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The peak of the school garden movement was reached in the years immediately following World War I when War Gardens turned into Victory Gardens and the urgency for surplus food production began to wane. The value and use of school gardens is enjoying new life however, with the popularity of the local food movement, USDA's current Farm-to-School Program, the USDA's People's Garden, and First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Initiative.

This review of the school garden movement in the early 1900s reveals the roots of school gardening as an educational tool designed to enrich many aspects of children's lives.