Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Resilient Foods, Resourceful People

March 25, 2020

thf288950Members of the Woman's National Farm and Garden Association, 1918. THF288950

Most Americans rely on grocery stores today. Few remember the time when there was constant demand on people to produce and preserve the grain, vegetables and meat they needed to feed themselves.

Over the last few weeks, self-isolation and social distancing have brought into sharp focus the need to plan for your next meal. Do you do it yourself, heading to your cellar to extract the last potatoes or turnips from the bins, or lift the lid off the sauerkraut crock, or pull down a cured ham from the rafters? Probably not. Do you head to the local market or the grocery store and stock up on fresh supplies to see you through for a few days? Or do you dig into the back of your cupboard and pull out a boxed mix or canned goods.


There’s never been a greater time to be resourceful than now. Last week, we donated food from The Henry Ford’s restaurants and cafeteria to Forgotten Harvest to help support our community after our campus closed this month because of COVID-19.

Looking for inspiration to be resourceful in your kitchen? We've dipped into resources and stories from The Henry Ford's collections to try to help. Explore the differences between home cooking and food resourcefulness today and in the past — from farm fresh and family raised to preserved and prepackaged. These digital resources will help you find inspiration whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. Sort through recipe books, dig out that potato — is it a Burbank?! — and season with that essential preservative, salt, reflect and enjoy.

What are you doing in your kitchens right now to make the most of what’s in your cabinets? Share your examples of resourcefulness by tagging your photos and ideas with #WeAreInnovationNation.

Resilient Foods, Resourceful People
Women and the Land: Agricultural Organizations of WWI
Freedom from Want
Mattox Home

A Versatile Ingredient (Salt)
What If A Potato Could Change the World of Agriculture?
Summer Staples: Tomato and Corn
Eggs (as seen on The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation)
Historic Recipe Bank
Bread & Biscuits

Preservation & Processing Foods
Henry J. Heinz: His Recipe for Success
Fresh Paper (as seen on The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation)

Supply Chains
Horse-Drawn Deliveries
Lunch Wagons: The Business of Mobile Food
Tri-Motor Flying Grocery Store

Alternative Eating & Home Cooking
Food Huggers (as seen on The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation)

Individual Artifacts
Swanson Frozen Dinners, 1967
Waffle Iron
Victory Gardens
Bean Pot

Debra A. Reid is Curator of Agriculture and the Environment. Did you find this content useful? Consider making a gift to The Henry Ford.

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