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Reforming food in post-Famine IrelandMedicine, science and improvement, 18451922$
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Ian Miller

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719088865

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719088865.001.0001

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Food and improvement in the mid-nineteenth-century institution

Food and improvement in the mid-nineteenth-century institution

(p.64) 3 Food and improvement in the mid-nineteenth-century institution (p.65)
Reforming food in post-Famine Ireland

Ian Miller

Manchester University Press

The late nineteenth century was marked by profound concern about national physical well-being. Despite initial post-Famine optimism in the 1850s about the prospects of national dietary reconstruction and agricultural prosperity, pessimism about the Irish condition quickly re-emerged. To introduce this theme, this chapter focuses on mid-century feeding in institutions and maintains that critics of institutional dietary policies invoked this seemingly internal institutional matter as a concern with national implications. Following the Famine, physicians paid closer attention to the issues of nutritional quality and deficiency and established firm links between an insufficient diet and permanent physical and mental weakening. Institutions provided opportunities for physicians and medical witnesses to witness, monitor and better understand the negative physical and mental effects of poor nutrition. Their well-publicised observations drew public attention to the idea that a nutritionally inadequate diet encouraged the onset of bodily conditions such as scrofula (or tuberculosis of the neck) and ophthalmia (or conjunctivitis). This chapter explores these themes by analysing dietary arrangements in mid-century prisons, workhouses, reformatories and industrial schools.

Keywords:   History of institutional diet, History of scrofula, Irish institutional history, History of nutrition, History of workhouse diet, History of prison diet, History of Irish industrial schools, History of Irish reformatories

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