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DIETARY, in a general sense, a system or course of diet, in the sense of food; more particularly, such an allowance and regulation of food as that supplied to workhouses, the army and navy, prisons, etc. Lowest in the scale of such dietaries comes what is termed "bare existence" diet, administered to certain classes of the community who have a claim on their fellow-countrymen that their lives and health shall be preserved in statu quo, but nothing further. This applies particularly to the members of a temporarily famine-stricken community. Before the days of prison reform, too, the dietary scale of many prisons was to a certain extent penal, in that the food supplied to prisoners was barely sufficient for existence. Nowadays more humane principles apply; there is no longer the obvious injustice of applying the same scale of quantity and quality to all prisoners under varying circumstances of constitution and surroundings, and whether serving long or short periods of imprisonment.

The system of dietary in force in the local and convict prisons of England and Wales is that recommended by the Home Office on the advice of a departmental committee. As to the local prison dietary, its application is based on (1) the principle of variation of diet with length of sentence; (2) the system of progressive dietary; (3) the distinction between hard labour diets and non-hard labour diets; (4) the differentiation of diet according to age and sex. There are three classes of diet, classes A, B and C. Class A diet is given to prisoners undergoing not more than seven days' imprisonment. The food is good and wholesome, but sufficiently plain and unattractive, so as not to offer temptation to the loafer or mendicant. It is given in quantity sufficient to maintain health and strength during the single week. Prisoners sentenced to more than seven days and not more than fourteen days are given class A diet for the first seven days and class B for the remainder of the sentence. In most of the local prisons in England and Wales prisoners sentenced to hard labour received hard labour diet, although quite 60% were unable to perform the hardest forms of prison labour either through physical defect, age or infirmity. The departmental committee of 1899 in their report recommended that no distinction should be made between hard labour and non-hard labour diets. Class A diet is as follows: - Breakfast, Bread, 8 oz. daily (6 oz. for women and juveniles) with 1 pint of gruel. Juveniles (males and females under sixteen years of age) get, in addition,  pint of milk. Dinner, 8 oz. of bread daily, with 1 pint of porridge on three days of the week, 8 oz. of potatoes (representing the vegetable element) on two other days, and 8 oz. of suet pudding (representing the fatty element) on the other two days. Supper, the breakfast fare repeated.

Class B diet, which is also given to (1) prisoners on remand or awaiting trial, (2) offenders of the 1st division who do not maintain themselves, (3) offenders of the 2nd division and (4) debtors, is as shown in Table I.

Table I

Men. Women. Juveniles.
Breakfast. Daily: -
Bread 8 oz. 6 oz. 6 oz.
Gruel 1 pt. 1 pt. 1 pt.
Milk · · · ·  pt.

Dinner. Sunday: -
Bread 6 oz. 6 oz.
Potatoes 8 " 8 "
Cooked meat, preserved by heat 4 " 3 "
Monday: -
Bread 6 oz. 6 oz.
Potatoes 8 " 8 "
Beans 10 " 8 "
Fat bacon 2 " 1 "

Tuesday: -
Bread 6 oz 6 oz.
Potatoes 8 " 8 "
Soup 1 pt. 1 pt.
Wednesday: -
Bread 6 oz. 6 oz.
Potatoes 8 " 8 "
Suet pudding 10 " 8 "

Thursday: -
Bread 6 oz. 6 oz.
Potatoes 8 " 8 "
Cooked beef, without bone 4 " 3 "
Friday: -
Bread 6 oz. 6 oz.
Potatoes 8 " 8 "
Soup 1 pt. 1 pt.
Saturday: -
Bread 6 oz. 6 oz.
Potatoes 8 " 8 "
Suet pudding 10 " 8 "
Supper. Daily: -
Bread 8 oz. 6 oz. 6 oz.
Porridge 1 pt.
Gruel 1 pt.
Cocoa 1 pt.

Class C diet is class B amplified, and is given to those prisoners serving sentences of three months and over.

The dietary of convict prisons, in which prisoners are all under long sentence, is divided into a diet for convicts employed at hard labour and a diet for convicts employed at sedentary, indoor and light labour. It will be found set forth in the Blue-book mentioned above. The sparest of all prison diets is called "punishment diet," and is administered for offences against the internal discipline of the prison. It is limited to a period of three days. It consists of 1 lb of bread and as much water as the prisoner chooses to drink.

In French prisons the dietary is nearly two pounds weight of bread, with two meals of thin soup (breakfast and dinner) made from potatoes, beans or other vegetables, and on two days a week made from meat. In France the canteen system is in vogue, additional food, such as sausages, cheese, fruit, etc., may be obtained by the prisoner, according to the wages he receives for his labours. The dietary of Austrian prisons is 1 lb of bread daily, a dinner of soup on four days of the week, and of meat on the other three days, with a supper of soup or vegetable stew. Additional food can be purchased by the prisoner out of his earnings.

These dietaries may be taken as more or less typical of the ordinary prison fare in most civilized countries, though in some countries it may err on the side of severity, as in Sweden, prisoners being given only two meals a day, one at mid-day and one at seven p.m., porridge or gruel being the principal element in both meals. On the other hand, the prison dietaries of many of the United States prisons go to the other extreme, fresh fish, green vegetables, even coffee and fruit, figuring in the dietary.

Another class of dietary is that given to paupers. In England, until 1900, almost every individual workhouse had its own special dietary, with the consequence that many erred on the side of scantiness and unsuitability, while others were too lavish. By an order of the Local Government Board of that year, acting on a report of a committee, all inmates of workhouses, with the exception of the sick, children under three years of age, and certain other special cases, are dieted in accordance with certain dietary tables as framed and settled by the board. The order contained a great number of different rations, it being left to the discretion of the guardians as to the final settlement of the tables. For adult inmates the dietary tables are for each sex respectively, two in number, one termed "plain diet" and the other "infirm diet." All male inmates certified as healthy able-bodied persons receive plain diet only. All inmates, however, in workhouses are kept employed according to their capacity and ability, and this is taken into consideration in giving allowances of food. For instance, for work with sustained exertion, such as stone-breaking, digging, etc., more food is given than for work without sustained exertion, such as wood-chopping, weeding or sewing. Table II. shows an example of a workhouse dietary.

Table II

Sun. Mon. Tue. Wed. Thu. Fri. Sat.
Breakfast. Bread. oz. 8 4 4 4 4 4 4
Porridge. pt. * 1 1 1 1 1 1
Dinner. Bread. oz. 4 6 .. 4 4 8 6
Beef. oz. 4 .. .. .. 4 .. ..
Vegetables. oz. 12 .. .. 12 12 .. ..
Barley Soup. pt. .. 1 .. .. .. .. ..
Pork. oz. .. .. 4 .. .. .. ..
Beans. oz. .. .. 12 .. .. .. ..
Fish. oz. .. .. .. 10 .. .. ..
Cheese. oz. .. .. .. .. .. 3 ..
Broth. pt. .. .. .. .. .. 1 ..
Irish Stew. pt. .. .. .. .. .. .. 1
Supper. Bread. oz. 8 6 6 6 8 6 6
Butter. oz.  .. .. .. .. .. ..
Tea. pt. 1 .. .. .. .. .. ..
Gruel. pt. .. 1 1 1 .. 1 1
Broth. pt. .. .. .. .. 1 .. ..
Cheese. oz. .. .. .. .. 2 .. ..
* On Sundays 1 pint of tea and 2 oz. of butter are given instead of porridge.

In the casual wards of workhouses the dietary is plainer, consisting of 8 oz. of bread, or 6 oz. of bread and one pint of gruel or broth for breakfast; the same for supper; for dinner 8 oz. of bread and 1 oz. of cheese or 6 oz. of bread and one pint of soup. The American poor law system is based broadly on that of England, and the methods of relief are much the same. Each state, however, makes its own regulations, and there is considerable diversity in workhouse dietaries in consequence. The German system of poor relief is more methodical than those of England and America. The really deserving are treated with more commiseration, and a larger amount of outdoor relief is given than in England. There is no casual ward, tramps and beggars being liable to penal treatment, but there are "relief stations," somewhat corresponding to casual wards, where destitute persons tramping from one place to another can obtain food and lodging in return for work done.

In the British navy certain staple articles of diet are supplied to the men to the value approximately of 6d. per diem - the standard government ration - and, in addition, a messing allowance of 4d. per diem, which may either be expended on luxuries in the canteen, or in taking up government provisions on board ship, in addition to the standard ration. The standard ration as recommended in 1907 by a committee appointed to inquire into the question of victualling in the navy is as follows: -

Service Afloat.

1 lb bread (or  lb bread and  lb trade flour).

 lb fresh meat.

1 lb fresh vegetables.

1/8 pint spirit.

4 oz. sugar.

 oz. tea (or 1 oz. coffee for every  oz. tea).

 oz. ordinary or soluble chocolate (or 1 oz. coffee).

 oz. condensed milk.

1 oz. jam or marmalade.

4 oz. preserved meat on one day of the week in harbour, or on two days at sea.

Mustard, pepper, vinegar, and salt as required.

Substitute for soft bread when the latter is not available -

 lb biscuit (new type) or 1 lb flour.

Substitutes for fresh meat when the latter is not available: -

days. (1) Salt pork day: -
 lb salt pork.
 lb split peas.
Celery seed,  oz. to every 8 lb of split peas put into the coppers.
 lb potatoes (or 1 oz. compressed vegetables).
(2) Preserved meat day: -
6 oz. preserved meat.
8 oz. trade flour } or 4 oz. rice.
 oz. refined suet
2 oz. raisins
 lb potatoes (or 1 oz. compressed vegetables).

On shore establishments and depot ships  pt. fresh milk is issued in lieu of the  oz. of condensed milk.

In the United States navy there is more liberality and variety of diet, the approximate daily cost of the rations supplied being 1s. 3d. per head. In the American mercantile marine, too, according to the scale sanctioned by act of Congress (December 21, 1898) for American ships, the seaman is better off than in the British merchant service. The scale is shown in Table III.

Table III

Scale. Articles. Weekly
Scale. Articles.
3 lb Biscuits. 7/8 oz. Tea.
3 " Salt beef. 21 " Sugar.
3 " " pork. 1 lb Molasses.
1 " Flour. 9 oz. Fruits, dried.
2 " Meats, preserved.  pt. Pickles.
10 " Bread, fresh (8 lb flour in lieu). 1 " Vinegar.
1 " Fish, dried. 8 oz. Corn Meal.
7 " Potatoes or yams. 12 " Onions.
1 " Tomatoes, preserved. 7 " Lard.
2/3 " Peas. 7 " Butter.
2/3 " Calavances.  " Mustard.
2/3 " Rice.  " Pepper.
5 oz. Coffee, green.  " Salt.

In the British mercantile marine there is no scale of provisions prescribed by the Board of Trade; there is, however, a traditional scale very generally adopted, having the sanction of custom only and seldom adhered to. The following dietary scale for steerage passengers, laid down in the 12th schedule of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894, is of interest. See Table IV.

Table IV. - Weekly, per Statute Adult.

Scale A.
For voyages not
exceeding 84 days
for sailing ships
or 50 days
for steamships.
Scale B.
For voyages
exceeding 84 days
for sailing ships
or 50 days
for steamships.
lb oz. lb oz.
Bread or biscuit, not inferior to navy biscuit 3 8 3 8
Wheaten flour 1 0 2 0
Oatmeal 1 8 1 0
Rice 1 8 0 8
Peas 1 8 1 8
Beef 1 4 1 4
Pork 1 0 1 0
Butter · · 0 4
Potatoes 2 0 2 0
Sugar 1 0 1 0
Tea 0 2 0 2
Salt 0 2 0 2
Pepper (white or black), ground 0 0 0 0
Vinegar 1 gill 1 gill
Preserved meat · · 1 0
Suet 0 6
Raisins 0 8
Lime juice 0 6

Certain substitutions may be made in this scale at the option of the master of any emigrant ship, provided that the substituted articles are set forth in the contract tickets of the steerage passengers.

In the British army the soldier is fed partly by a system of co-operation. He gets a free ration from government of 1 lb of bread and  lb of meat; in addition there is a messing allowance of 3d. per man per day. He is able to supplement his food by purchases from the canteen. Much depends on the individual management in each regiment as to the satisfactory expenditure of the messing allowance. In some regiments an allowance is made from the canteen funds towards messing in addition to that granted by the government. The ordinary field ration of the British soldier is 1 lb of bread or 1 lb of biscuit; 1 lb of fresh, salt or preserved meat;  oz. of coffee; 1/6 oz. of tea; 2 oz. of sugar;  oz. of salt, 1/36 oz. of pepper, the whole weighing something over 2 lb 3 oz. This cannot be looked on as a fixed ration, as it varies in different campaigns, according to the country into which the troops may be sent. The Prussian soldier during peace gets weekly from his canteen 11 lb 1 oz. of rye bread and not quite 2 lb of meat. This is obviously insufficient, but under

the conscription system it is reckoned that he will be able to make up the deficiency out of his own private means, or obtain charitable contributions from his friends. In the French infantry of the line each man during peace gets weekly 15 lb of bread, 33/10 lb of meat, 2 lb of haricot beans or other vegetables, with salt and pepper, and 1 oz. of brandy.

An Austrian under the same circumstances receives 13.9 lb of bread,  lb of flour and 3.3 lb of meat.

The Russian conscript is allowed weekly: -

Black bread 7 lb.
Meat 7 lb.
Kvass (beer) 7.7 quarts.
Sour cabbage 24 gills = 122 oz.
Barley 24 gills = 122 oz.
Salts 10 oz.
Horse-radish 28 grains.
Pepper 28 grains.
Vinegar 5 gills = 26 oz.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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