Saturday, April 14, 2012

US Food Administration

The other day, I received a precious package in the mail. From looking at what that package contained, you wouldn't have suspected the million thoughts that are now running through my head would have appeared just from those innocent looking books and documents... but that's just what's happened! Each of these books/documents I've found to be so interesting and thought provoking that I just have to write about each one!

So, here begins my attempt at getting my thoughts down concisely and clearly... wish me luck!

United States Food Administration - War Economy in Food with Suggestions and Recipes for Substitutions in the Planning of Meals (Hammond, Ind. W.B. Conkey Company 1918)
This document was obviously published during WWI. It begins with "the President's Call to the Women of the Nation". The President's Call is a letter that was written by Woodrow Wilson (the 28th President) on June 12, 1917, sent to Herbert C. Hoover (later to become the 31st President). Excerpts from the letter include:

"It seems to me that the inauguration of that portion of the plan for Food Administration which contemplates a national mobilization of the great voluntary forces of the country which are ready to work towards saving food and eliminating wastes admits of no further delay...

"...The women of the Nation are already earnestly seeking to do their part in this our greatest struggle for the maintenance of our national ideals, and in no direction can they so greatly assist as by enlisting in the service of the Food Administration and cheerfully accepting it's direction and advice. By so doing they will increase the surplus of food available for our own army and for export to the allies..."

The document then goes on to explain about the food shortage for the soldiers fighting in WWI. Food staples required for the soldiers was wheat, beef, pork, dairy products and sugar and the document goes into detail while those specific items were required above others. It really makes for an interesting read.

Home cards were issued, it seems on a regular basis (yearly perhaps?). "The home card for 1918, issued in January, contains those rules whose careful observance by loyal Americans will enable us to meet our present responsibilities toward all who depend on us." The document gave a detailed explanation of the rules contained on the cards, the rules in summary being:

  • Have 2 wheatless days in every week and 1 wheatless meal in every day.
  • Have 1 meatless day in every week and 1 meatless meal in every day. Have 2 porkless days in every week.
  • Make every day a fat-saving day.
  • Make every day a sugar-saving day.
  • Use fruits, vegetables and potatoes abundantly.
  • Use milk wisely
  • Hoarding food - "anyone buying and holding a larger supply of food now than in peace time, except foods canned, dried or preserved in the home, is helping to defeat the Food Administration..."
My Thoughts:
Here in the document is where I was really moved.
The next section got me thinking about the comparison of soldiers then and now and the attitude difference. I appreciate that times have changed and war now is not at all like war then. However, during WWI, reading this document I get a sense that ALL Americans, both men and women, both soldiers and those still at home were ALL fighting the war together. Each had a part to play. I don't think the same can be said today.

The document gets a bit patriotic, but for very good reason. Here's the section that got me really thinking!:

"Let us remember that every flag that flies opposite the enemies' is by proxy the American flag, and that the armies fighting in our defense under these flags can not be maintained through this winter unless there is food enough for them and for their women and children at home. There can be food enough only if American provides it. And America can provide it only by the personal service and patriotic co-operation of us all."

It goes on to list what the soldiers need (wheat, butter, lard, sugar, bacon, beef, mutton, pork) and what "(t)he folks at home can use" (i.e. substitutes to be used instead of the above list, so those staples can be sent to the soldiers).

That conjures up images of a country working together, having less so others can have more. I get that not everyone would have followed these suggestions/home cards, but I'm sure that most/many would have. It makes me wonder if we've lost that sacrificial ability, or would we take up that challenge again, if that's what was needed to win the war?

The rest of the document (the document is 30 pages in total and I've only report on the first 11 pages!) is jam pack full of further suggestions, meal plans, food savings, recipes and helps. A really interesting, thought provoking read!

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