What Kind of Food Did Lewis and Clark Eat?

The Lewis and Clark expedition subsisted primarily on animals hunted during the journey, including deer, elk, bison, antelope, sheep, bear, beaver and otter. The expedition also consumed a variety of fowl, including geese, grouse and turkey. Along the way, they also purchased a number of dogs from Indian tribes that were used as food and subsisted off fish and other miscellaneous wildlife and scavenged vegetables.

Most of the food supplies were acquired along the way, but the expedition also kept a stock of dried beef, flour and whiskey purchased before the journey. These stocks quickly ran out, however, leaving the expedition dependent on what they could hunt and forage.

One food innovation the Lewis and Clark expedition took advantage of was "portable soup," a thick paste created by boiling and drying beef, eggs and vegetables. A precursor to the condensed soups common in modern supermarkets, it helped the expedition get by during some of their leaner times. The party left civilization with 193 pounds of this emergency provision.

The Lewis and Clark expedition also discovered another survival technique when they ran low on salt for preserving their meat. Expedition members drew water from the ocean and boiled it, evaporating it away until only the salt remained. This salt, along with smoking and drying techniques, was vital for preserving the group's rations.