NPR logo Great Depression Grub: Cattail Stew

Great Depression Grub: Cattail Stew

Out of work and on line at the Salvation Army, circa 1935. Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

This week in the Great Recession marks the 80th anniversary of the "Black Tuesday" crash on Wall Street, an signal event of the Great Depression. As Sam Sanders writes for NPR, even that dark time had its winners.

Sanders looks at businesses and people who made themselves wealthy during those years — from Mae West to Joseph Kennedy — and at how everyone else eked by. For one thing, he notes, a lot of them were locavores before anyone had thought to call themselves such a thing:

Soup became a staple because it could be made with whatever was in the kitchen, could be cooked in one pot and could be stretched just by adding water. Depression soup was one part ketchup to two parts water. Stale bread became croutons or bread pudding.

Dishes began to be made from a variety of weeds, like dandelions, milkweed and cattails.

People also began gardening to produce their own food and butchered their own meat. But many could no longer afford meat and began relying on meatless dishes like nut hash, black-eyed pea sausage, and meatloaf made of cottage cheese, crushed peanuts and rice.