Most Americans' diets were based on cornmeal and pork or bacon Cornmeal was often made into corn pone, a coarse bread; or hominy, a type of porridge. Because of refrigeration problems, few had access to fresh meat, and many were suspicious of any meat that was not salted and preserved. All over the country, local game, like deer and buffalo, or even raccoon and squirrel, made their way to the dinner table, to supplement the pork, poultry and beef from the farm. Food was cooked over an open fire; the stoves that appeared around 1815 did not catch on for cooking purposes. Small farmers in New England grew vegetables in their gardens; while New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania produced fruits like apples, peaches, pears and figs. Fruits were generally dried for preservation.
Homemakers found it hard to keep food fresh, because of the lack of refrigeration. In the country, some people had "spring houses," which were rooms or houses built into the ground with cold springs of water running through them. These "spring houses" kept even butter and milk fresh. Most people, however, had to go to the market every day to obtain fresh food. Tuesdays and Fridays were usually the major market days.
Cider was a popular drink in New England. In addition, whiskey and other forms of liquor were consumed in large quantities all over the nation, but especially in the South and West. Farmers who raised rye often converted it to whiskey, for ease of transportation.
Most Americans had diets relatively high in fat, high in salt, high in sugar and low in nutrients. Nevertheless, those living outside the cities were probably the best fed people in the world at the time. Americans, at least white American men, were on average taller than their European counterparts, largely because they were better nourished.