Popularising right food and feeding practices in Spain, 1900-1950. The handbooks of domestic economy

TitlePopularising right food and feeding practices in Spain, 1900-1950. The handbooks of domestic economy
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsPerdiguero-Gil E, Castejón-Bolea R
Start Page141
Type of ArticleOriginal
Keywordseducation, first half of the 20th century, food, girls, Spain

The aim of this paper is to analyze a sample of domestic economy handbooks in
order to assess the popularization of correct food and feeding practices in Spain between 1847
and 1950. With this contribution, we wish to evaluate another factor that would influence the
Spanish food transition. We are aware that this is a very indirect source, given the high levels
of illiteracy among women in Spain during the last third of the 19th century and the beginning
of the 20th century. A further factor to be considered is the low proportion of girls attending
school. We have analyzed the handbooks published in three periods. The first ranges from the
last third of the 19th century to the first decade of the 20th. These handbooks are considered
in order to provide background for a comparison with the works published from 1900 onwards.
The second period focuses on the 1920s and the 1930s. The last period covers the handbooks
published after the Civil War under the monopoly of the Sección Femenina (women's section of
the Falange). Over the years under consideration, recommendations underwent a progressive
modification from the very simple leaflets used in the 19th century to the introduction of
scientific factors into the teaching of domestic economy. The work of Rosa Sensat represented
the beginnings of this trend. A further modernizing factor was the appearance of vitamins in
some of the handbooks. After the war, the number of handbooks decreased and they were,
in general, very poor. If we consider the content on vitamins, there was a lack or shortage of
information in comparison with some of the books published in the same period outside the
monopoly of the Sección Femenina. In conclusion, we can state that the repetition of recommendations
on good feeding habits and the increase in girls attending school would exert a
positive influence on the food transition of the Spanish population