What Did Early Settlers Eat?

Early settlers in the coastal regions ate seafood, those in wooded areas dined on poultry and deer, and others ate nuts and berries. A settler's diet depended on where they lived and what was available to them.

Root vegetables, such as carrots and onions, were the most commonly grown and available vegetables regardless of geographic region, due primarily to their heartiness and short growing season. Cabbage, lettuce and various types of beans were also common. Corn, which was one of the first foods introduced to settlers in the United States, was used to prepare a variety of dishes. Various types of squash, particularly pumpkin, were also cultivated in early American history and remained prevalently American foods until the 19th century.

In what is now the American southwest region, peppers grew abundantly and were frequently incorporated into native dishes by settlers in that area. Nuts and legumes also grew abundantly and were quickly cultivated by early settlers. Much of the South's industry rose on the farming of nuts, in fact. Ironically, one of the most common American side dishes, the potato, did not become a permanent staple of American farming until the 18th century and was not part of early settler fare.