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Government Recipes and Cookbooks

Recipes, cookbooks, and cookery guides published by government agencies.

About Government Recipes and Cookbooks

For decades, the United States federal government has been a prolific creator and publisher of cookbooks, individual recipes, and books about cookery, shopping, or other topics that might feature one or a few recipes inside. This is a guide to the huge variety of recipe sources available from the federal government. 


Purposes of Government Recipes and Cookbooks

There are many reasons why the government might want to issue a cookbook or other source of recipes:

  • To educate the public in how to purchase, store, and prepare food at home
  • To train government agencies that provide meals, such as the Armed Forces or the public school systems. Many of these recipes are for a large number of servings and may also be suitable for events where a large number of guests are expected. 
  • To promote the industries that grow and sell our food
  • To encourage healthy eating habits
  • To identify the foods that heal and the foods that harm for people with special dietary needs, such as diabetics, cancer patients, or those with allergies
  • To celebrate the diversity of ethnic cuisines and holiday traditions in the United States


Occasionally some government recipes or cookbooks have led to controversy. 

For example, the Department of Defense has been ridiculed for its Military Specification MIL-C-44072C, Cookies, Oatmeal; and Brownies; Cocolate [sic] Covered, revision C (DoD, 30 April 1990), which has repeatedly been mischaracterized as a "26-page brownie recipe." (The actual recipe, referred to as the "Brownie formula," only takes up about a page of the document.) 

In another controversy, a cookbook by Admiral Marlene E. Haffner of the Public Health Service raised eyebrows in Congress. On May 14, 1997 and July 30, 1997, the House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations inquired about the alleged misuse of government resources for this cookbook, a vanity project that did not appear closely connected to FDA's public health functions. Haffner was Director of FDA's Office of Orphan Products Development, and the cookbook consisted of her personal compilation of recipes, put into a book with the assistance of her husband and daughters as well as the print and arts department at the FDA. The matter was referred to the Health and Human Services Inspector General for investigation.

Finding Government Recipes and Cookbooks

Here is a quick way to find a list of many of the recipes and cookbooks in the UNT Libraries government documents collection. 

1. From the UNT Libraries home page (, select "Cataloged Books & More" to go to the library catalog.

2. Select "Advanced Search" from below the search box.

3. Under the heading "Find items that match ANY of",

  • enter recipes next to "All fields"
  • enter cookbooks next to "Genres"
  • check Government Documents under "Collection"
  • click the "Search" button or press the "Enter" key.  

This will not find all the recipes in the Government Documents collection, but it will identify a great many of them.

Other Resources

Visit the Sycamore Library Service Desk in Sycamore Hall for assistance in locating government recipes and cookbooks.

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