It is no great secret that in the last hundred years or more, the people who really wish to take complete control of the planet have been trying to social engineer the masses. In some ways they have succeeded. In other ways, the American people, anyway, have rejected their efforts.
It began with a short discussion with a family member regarding a friend’s newly renovated condo. The living space in question is part of a six family building erected before World War I. The character of the place is unmistakable, and for a single person, or a couple, it is a cozy place to be.
Well, other than the kitchen.
When cooks talk about a galley kitchen, the teeny tiny space that’s more like a closet than a kitchen, is the epitome of a galley. That’s what the friend has for meal preparation (no way could there be a table in there), and the friend has made the most use of the space available as this person is an outstanding cook.
So, when this writer mentioned the unfortunateness of the galley kitchen in this condo to the family member, a shrug came from that person and, It’s a social engineering thing, came out of the family member’s mouth. This person essentially said that at the time, the push was to get people to eat more canned food rather than preparing fresh food themselves,or something to that effect.
In essence, the powers that be were already working to control the food supply. With a little bit of digging, it is not hard to find information on when canning food in metal began. Right around the Civil War. Soldiers got used to the taste and texture, but the rest of the populace did not, and it took time to sell the public on the idea, especially when a nasty epidemic of botulism resulted from a bad batch of canned olives from California made the headlines.
Other innovations such as flash frozen vegetables came into being in this era, so the idea of preparing fresh foods in the cities and in company housing stock simply was being pushed to the side at the time. The idea was to feed the masses not from local field and farming operations, but somewhere more controlled.
The social engineering aspect of changing food consumption by changing the kitchen was now in play. The people who fancied themselves in charge just prior to World War I were all about efficiency, and saw it as a way to control the population. In the company housing provided by the likes of the Rockefellers and Carnegies, kitchens were small, and “efficient”, a large enough space for mother to work, but not large enough for anyone to join her. The resulting implications of that should be obvious: no teaching the next generation, no socializing, no family all in the room on holidays, no neighborhood effort when hogs were slaughtered….
Outside of company provided housing when families were displaced due to jobs, building was a little different. For a while, anyway.
In the 1910s, in the houses owned by those with domestic help, kitchens were a small work space supplemented with a butler’s pantry for storage. However, in one of a kind houses built in that time frame and the decade after in houses where domestic help did not live in, like those in this writer’s neighborhood, kitchens are bigger, and were meant for actual food preparation work among several people, not just opening a can. Sp, even in the same era, there was push back to the social engineering to an extent.
In the succeeding decades, especially where houses were built that came from a common set of blueprints, kitchens remained smallish (some houses here built in the 1930s have much smaller spaces for this with a “breakfast room”), and in the post World War II era, when all the little bungalow and ranch houses came into being to house soldiers returning home along with their families, efficiently, of course, kitchens were almost a pass through.
Simply, this was social engineering. Cooking, and learning to cook was dissuaded by virtue of the space people had to do it (or not).
What is fascinating in the early twenty first century, a hundred years after the powers that wanted to be made their concept of efficiency such a part of American life, the people are outright rejecting the tininess of what had been the work space of a kitchen. At this point in history, having a kitchen big enough for an Irish Caeli is all the rage. Open concept, knocking down walls into adjacent room to open up a kitchen into living space and essentially not close off food preparation is the trend. New houses, McMansions included, are built with huge, elaborate kitchens whether the people building the house intend to use them or not. Storage, of course, is a must, but many times that has more to do with all the gadgets and dishes accumulated for food preparation since these kitchens also come with huge refrigerators and freezers to keep fresh food rather than store canned.
What is also a trend, at least in these parts, is availability of fresh, prepared foods and meals in the grocery stores. Local farm products, such as eggs, sell out faster than their industrialized counterparts – even at a higher price. Pick your own orchard, vegetable and berry operations thrive to the point that many had to be expanded. Turnover in produce is very much a daily thing. We the People, at least a large enough percentage to keep fresh foods available in the stores, are hungry for real food.
It might simply be location, or the socio-economic status of the clientele in specific locations where these supplies meet demand, but Americans who can afford it are rejecting what was being socially engineered in the early twentieth century when it comes to one of the most basic functions of life: eating.
Expansion of the American kitchen is just the beginning, though. Yes, it is ostentatious, but Americans are rejecting the efficiency in living space and transportation foisted on us over a hundred years ago in ways that should be making the Robber Barons spin in their graves.
Part 2 coming soon.