Founding Fathers on Food – John Adams
As we get set to celebrate Independence Day let’s ponder the question: What did the Founding Fathers eat? Let’s begin with John Adams. After reading David McCollough’s biography Adams became one of my favorites. Perhaps you watched the movie on HBO? When it comes to food John Adams is a man after my own heart.
I certainly never met a diet fad I didn’t at least investigate. And in his day Adams was accused of being a “food faddist” as well. According to Dr. Zebra’s extensive research, at one point, Adams was on a then trendy eating plan called the “milk diet.” He avoided meats, spices and spirits and ate bread, milk, veggies and water on the diet.
Sometimes Adams would even purge himself by “taking a vomit” of tartar emtic and turpeth mineral. Ah, tartar emtic, good stuff. Anyway, Adams said the purge “worked seven times and wrecked me.” Which totally could be me when I do the Cabbage Soup Diet.
It is not a new phenomenon to pursue happiness through the right diet. Without Adams’ intellect, perseverance and character our great nation may not exist. But amid things like, oh, founding the Navy he also struggled with diet and health. We can all relate to his struggle. (I mean his struggle with food is relatable. I can’t begin to understand the quality of person who can invent a country. The dieting I get.)
It wasn’t all diets and vomit. “The Atlas of Independence” liked spirits and in fact since alcoholic beverages were safer to drink than water and could be stored “tippling” was fairly common to the founders.
During the Revolutionary War in May of 1777 the sea lanes were constrained. Adams was in Philadelphia and couldn’t get his favorite drink which is believed to be Madeira wine. He wrote these lines to his beloved wife Abigail:
“I would give three guineas for a barrel of your cyder. Not one drop of it to be had here for gold, and wine is not to be had under sixty-eight dollars per gallon, and that very bad. I would give a guinea for a barrel of your beer. A small beer here is wretchedly bad. In short, I am getting nothing that I can drink, and I believe I shall be sick from this cause alone. Rum is forty shillings a gallon, and bad water will never do in this hot climate in summer where acid liquors are necessary against infection.”
John Adams lived to be 90 and died on July 4th, 1826. Pretty good evidence that Madeira wine is good for the Constitution.