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Tag: Food Administration

World War I food conservation: “Pan de la libertad”

“What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?,” our current special exhibition in Washington, DC, examines the Government’s effect on what Americans eat. Government influence was especially visible during wartime, when many food products were reserved for feeding the troops and our Allies.

During World War I, the U.S. Food Administration, headed by Herbert Hoover, urged the American people to voluntarily conserve food, especially wheat, meat, fats, and sugar. Recognizing that a successful program had to reach out to all Americans, the agency distributed printed materials in several languages, including Italian pamphlets in New York City, Chinese food conservation notices in Hawaii, and Spanish recipes in California.

The featured recipes for “pan de la libertad” (liberty bread), using corn, oat, and barley flour instead of wheat, were found in the files of the California State Food Administration, housed at the National Archives at San Francisco. According to a note at the bottom, recipes were translated into Spanish for counties with significant Spanish-speaking populations.

An all-out publicity campaign was waged to educate the citizenry about the need for food conservation and how to accomplish it in one’s own home. Posters and newspaper notices exhorted readers to combat waste. Homemakers and restaurant operators signed pledges to observe “meatless Mondays” and “wheatless Wednesdays.”

The American Protective League also received and passed on reports of citizens suspected of food hoarding.

In a … [ Read all ]

Cooking for your family and your allies

“What’s Cooking Wednesday” continues with this post from our colleagues at the National Archives at Denver. These Wednesday features celebrate our new exhibit “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” which opens on June 10 in Washington, DC, and looks at the role that the Federal Government has taken in food production, safety, advertising, and nutrition.

It’s hard to image Rachel Ray or an Iron Chef looking so solemn during a cooking demonstration, but these ladies were showing an audience how to feed their family on the war front—and still have food for an unknown family on the war front.

On the home front during World War I, a forced food rationing program never took place, but a volunteer food conservation system became commonplace. Civilians were advised to give up food commodities that were greatly needed for the war effort.

Despite being the largest food producer in the world, the United States of America was ill equipped to shoulder such an overwhelming food and material distribution; vast amounts of food and supplies were required to feed the newly assembled overseas army, our allies, and demoralized European civilians. An abdundance of cooking fats, sugar, wheat, meat, and vegetables was necessary to meet the daily task of feeding so many.

In the United States, volunteerism became widespread; citizens saw food conservation as patriotic, referring to it as “Hooverizing” after Herbert Hoover, the United States Food Administrator … [ Read all ]