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Tag: rationing

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Whale Surprise!

Today’s guest post comes from Jennifer Audsley Moore, who is an archives technician and volunteer coordinator at the National Archives at Kansas City.

Whale: It’s what’s for dinner.

At least, that is how the U.S. Food Administration and U.S Bureau of Fisheries would have it. During World War I, the U.S. Food Administration was established under the Lever Act to ration food and stabilize prices. With farmers and other industries mandated to comply with the act, certain food items such as sugar, wheat, and beef became difficult to procure.

But for the majority of Americans, participation in food rationing was more strongly suggested than mandatory. Advertisements designed to admonish Americans into forgoing sugar, beef, pork, wheat in the name of patriotism abounded. American soldiers fighting in France needed beef and sugar rations, and Uncle Sam needed the ships normally used to import sugar and other luxuries for the war effort.

So just what were Americans at home supposed to serve for dinner? Not beef. Not pork. Chicken perhaps? No. How about whale? Yes, whale.

Perhaps this might not seem far-fetched in Alaska or even New England (although in the Midwest we tend to identify the East Coast with clam chowder and Maryland crab, not whale). But what about in Missouri, the heart and breadbasket of the nation? Catfish and trout may be plentiful … [ 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 ]