Wharton J. Green of North Carolina in the House of Representatives in April of 1884 gave a speech on adulterated food in North Carolina to the U.S. House of Representatives. He spoke in front of the entire Congress on the behalf of North Carolina to speak about his concerns with adulterated food, and even more broadly, the “whole field of dietetics and medicinals,” and of “doctor’s stuff” (3) Green believes that there are many foods that fail to meet the legal standard and are even poisonous and that there need to be more food inspections. He goes on to state that manufacturers are being greedy and producing less quality food to make more quantity. He believes that it is the fault of “diabolic science” and that it will “permit (the food) to be counterfeited to advantage”.
Although Wharton represents the 3rd Congressional District of North Carolina, which includes the Atlantic Coast, the Outer Banks and the counties next to the Pamlico Sound (1), this district is adjacent to the district Chapel Hill is in. The third Congressional district is also next to the coast and produces many of the fish that the Orange County area buys from. Wharton makes an impassioned speech about the food safety of North Carolina and that certainly pertains to Chapel Hill and it’s food economy. Food safety is always of paramount concern, especially in the 1880s when bacteria was discovered (2). During this time period, people began to think about food sanitation in a different way, and that food safety was imperative to the health of its citizens (2). Chapel Hill was going through a shifting time period concerning the sanitation and regulation of the food it produced and sold to its citizens, which is why this speech is very telling about how food and public health was viewed as a real concern in the 1880s.
- “North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District.” Ballotpedia. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://ballotpedia.org/North_Carolina’s_3rd_Congressional_District.
- “Szathmary Recipe Pamphlet Digital Collection – Eating in America, 1880-1930.” Szathmary Recipe Pamphlet Digital Collection – Eating in America, 1880-1930 – The University of Iowa Libraries. Accessed October 10, 2018. http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/szathmary/eating.html.
- “Food and drug adulteration: speech of Hon. Wharton J. Green, of North Carolina, in the House of Representatives, Monday, April 21, 1884.” Accessed in Wilson Library Special Collections. Accessed October 9 and 10, 2018.