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“Ration Day.”

A master distributed provisions in an illustration from a weekly newspaper report on the operations of a plantation around 1860. The engraving suggested that this planter provided his slaves with a varied and nutritious diet, which was not usually the case. Slaves typically received a weekly ration of only three and a half pounds of salt pork or bacon and a quarter bushel of cornmeal. Although high in calories needed to perform heavy labor, that diet was seriously deficient nutritionally. This engraving did not show that slaves who wished to supplement their meager and boring diet had to rely on the vegetable gardens and hunting privileges some planters allowed them. Because of their unrelenting workday, slaves had to perform these tasks early in the morning or late at night.

Source: Harper’s Weekly—American Social History Project.