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In the 18th Century, people didn't have grocery stores or restaurants. In fact, most of the food people consumed came from their own farms; many families had gardens and livestock on their land. The Washingtons were no exception to this. They also benefitted from the Potomac River and the fish that swam in its waters. 

George Washington made sure that there was enough wheat, vegetables, and fish to provide for his family, servants, and enslaved. Washington also fished enough to sell at markets. This means that the people living and working at Mount Vernon were able to eat a variety of foods during a time when diversity of foods was scarce. 

Explore the Dining Room at Mount Vernon!

Dining at Mount Vernon

Dining at Mount Vernon

Dining at Mount Vernon typically occurred twice a day: there was breakfast in the morning at 7am, and dinner in the afternoon at 3pm. Tea or coffee would be served after dinner as well. 

While two meals doesn't initially seem like a lot of work, it was for the enslaved cooks, Nathan and Lucy. Their jobs started as early as 4:30am and lasted well after sundown. 

To learn more about the lives of the enslaved cooks, as well as the procedure for dining, click the link below.

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Discover the Kitchen at Mount Vernon

What did the enslaved eat at Mount Vernon?

What did the enslaved eat at Mount Vernon?

While the Washingtons ate generous amounts of rich and delicious foods, their enslaved workers were not gifted the same luxury. Their daily rations were 1 quarter of cornmeal and 5 to 8 ounces of salted fish. However, the enslaved community did not let this stop them from eating better foods. 

Click the link below to learn about how the enslaved community fed themselves in addition to the rationed food gifted to them by the Washingtons.

Food for the Enslaved

But where did ingredients come from?

George the Enslaved Gardener

George the Enslaved Gardener

George was one of three enslaved gardeners at Mount Vernon. He worked hard, tending the gardens in all types of weather until he was allowed to return to his home and family for the evening. 

Learn more about George's story by reading his brief biography linked below.

Learn More about George

Explore the Salt House at Mount Vernon

George Washington's Fisheries

The fisheries at Mount Vernon were a complex, but swift business. Although fishing season did not last long, initial preparations and the responsibilities that followed were incredibly intense

To learn more about the fishery process, click the link below!

Fishing and Salt Preservation

Cooking in the 18th Century

Interested in knowing how food was cooked and prepared during George Washington's time? Watch these videos to learn how to do it!

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