Whalers' Food A.K.A. "Grub"

Imagine a world without refrigeration or reliable airtight food storage. That means no aluminum foil, plastic bags or shrink-wrap solutions. Imagine it's the middle of winter and what you eat depends upon what you put in your cellar at the end of the growing season. That means food had to be preserved by canning, drying, salting or storing in a moisture free location. Imagine eating only what grows in the area where you live. That means no bananas, pineapples or peanuts if you lived in New England. These are some of the issues that whalers, as well as people living on shore, faced during the 1800s when it came to what they ate. The whalers had double the trouble with no refrigeration and limited access to replacement foods unless they were in a port.

Food, also known as "grub," was often one of the worst parts of a whaling voyage in the 1800s; at least according to many accounts. Depending upon how long the ship was at sea and where they were located, meals became less desirable and sometimes down right rotten! The shortage of good quality food was the basis for more complaints than any other phase of the whaling industry during this period.

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image of dinner

New Bedford Whaling Museum