Carey D. Miller Remembered
Pioneer food scientist studied nutritional content of tropical fruit and non-western diets
Carey D. Miller
Editor’s note: Whether graduates of home economics or human nutrition, alumni of Mānoa programs in food science are invited to return to Miller Hall on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2005, at 2 p.m. for a tea to celebrate the ongoing legacy of Carey D. Miller. Call (808) 956-8105 for information.
Diminutive in stature and conservative in demeanor, Carey D. Miller was nontheless a pioneer in many ways. She came from immigrant stock, watched stagecoaches pass her parents’ Idaho ranch and attended a one-room schoolhouse. She graduated from a Boise high school in 1912 and became the first in her family to attend college, earning a bachelor’s with honors from University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s from Columbia University.
She sailed from San Francisco to take charge of the fledgling UH home economics department in 1922, turning a Hawaiʻi Hall room into a laboratory for her eight white rats. She served as chief planner for the Home Economics Building, which opened in 1939, and increased department enrollment to 160 majors during her tenure.
Miller also did the first work on vitamin content of fresh and canned pineapple and documented the high vitamin C content of guava and papaya, proving local produce could meet nutritional needs.
"Miss Miller found that instruction had been limited to western diets out of textbooks written for the mainland United States. The dietary needs of non-Caucasians who were the majority of the local population were practically ignored," recalls student, colleague and friend Helen Lind.
Miller analyzed and wrote about the basal metabolism and diets of Polynesians and Asians. She visited homes; collaborated with doctors, nurses and dentists and spoke frequently about the value of good dietary habits.
Eloquent on the dangers of too much salt and sugar, she challenged soup and baby food companies to reduce additives. Among her more than 70 publications was the widely popular Some Fruits of Hawaiʻi: Their Composition, Nutritive Value and Use in Tested Recipes, first published by University of Hawaiʻi Press in 1936 and most recently released in 2002.
The Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Science still presents the Carey award established by her students in 1957. Upon her retirement a year later, Carey D. Miller Hall was named in her honor.
After retirement, Miller turned her scientific acumen to miniature orchids, producing award-winning blossoms in yellow, long the signature color of her home garden.
Remembering her own four-years struggle working to save money for graduate school, Miller left the majority of her estate for student scholarships. In the 20 years following her death in 1985, her trust made 300 awards totaling $335,000 to graduate and undergraduate students.
The $671,000 principle will be distributed to 11 nonprofit organizations in 2005, including the Hawaiʻi Dietetic Association, which she co-founded, and Hawaiʻi Association of Family and Consumer Science, which has pledged to continue Miller’s scholarship tradition.
Other beneficiaries are the UH Foundation for the C. D. Miller Award Fund, Bishop Museum Association, Friends of Honolulu Botanical Gardens, Hawaiian Historical Society, Hawaiʻi Council of Churches, Kindergarten and Children’s Aid Association, Outdoor Circle, Pacific Orchid Society and YWCA Honolulu.