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Dr. James Henry Salisbury

Location: NYS Historical Marker of Birthplace at 6192 Stevens Road, Homer, NY
(42.705518, -76.184521)

Salisbury Steak is a health food?! According to Dr. James Henry Salisbury, it absolutely was!

In 1860, serving as a volunteer during the Civil War, Dr. Salisbury found himself very concerned over the soldier’s digestive health. Apparently, the Union soldiers found themselves regularly suffering from bouts of gastroenteritis. Beyond being an embarrassing inconvenience, left untreated it left the soldiers weak and at risk of further illness or even death. Fascinated by the study of diet, chronic disease, and germs, Dr. Salisbury developed a theory. Believing that “vegetables released powerful toxins in the digestive system,” he instructed the soldiers to eat a diet solely comprised of meat. Finely chopped beef, to be exact, to aid in digestion. Shaped into a patty and fried, it became known by the soldiers as the Salisbury Steak.

Was this what gave the Union Army the strength to win the war? Perhaps. Regardless, the Salisbury Steak eventually endeared itself to the American public and permanently entered the lexicon during World War I. Now commonly served in a brown gravy with mushrooms, it’s become a household staple.

We salute you Dr. Salisbury and your delicious take on steak.

1. “BIRTHPLACE OF | William G. Pomeroy Foundation”. William G. Pomeroy Foundation, 2022,