Food production, food conservation and home economics---"Food will win the war," says Mr. Hoover--- Gigantic task is assigned to women---Back yard gardens yield crop valued at $350,000,000---Secretary Houston's appeal---Mr. Pack great work.
EARLY in the war David Lloyd George said that 100,000,000 pounds sterling might determine which nation would win. Lloyd George believed with many others that financing the war would present the greatest problem that would be developed by the conflict. It was Herbert Hoover, the national food administrator, who perhaps came nearer the truth when he said "Food will win the war."
Experience has proved that nations can go ahead almost indefinitely financing their military establishments, that problems of finance can be worked out and manufacturing difficulties overcome; but all assets become valueless from a military point of view unless there is a food supply sufficient to sustain the armed forces and the civilian population. American women almost invariably find their place in every great movement and begin work before the men who are piloting our great ventures realize that there is a place for women that women only can fill, and that there is an important work to be done that only women can do. American women recognized the weight of their responsibility in this war almost as soon as war was declared, but it is doubtful if even the most prophetic among them realized that one of the fundamental war problems that was early to confront the nation was to be committed almost entirely to the women of the country.
When it became evident within the first few months of war that the production and conservation of food was one of supreme military consideration, every food producer and every consumer of food products in this country became a factor in the military situation. Every American housewife was expected to take her place in the ranks of those serving their country.
The mother in the kitchen, alone with her conscience and her memories, became a food administrator in her own right. We have become surfeited with statistics. We have talked in terms of millions and billions so long that figures have lost their significance, but the fact that "food will win the war," and that every woman had been drafted into the ranks of the Army of American Housewives, sank deeply into the consciousness of every loyal American woman.
The President said "Every housewife who practices strict economy puts herself in the ranks of those who serve the nation." As early as May 5, 1917, Secretary Houston of the United States Department of Agriculture, foreseeing the importance of women's share in the nation's task, issued the following appeal:
To the Women of the United States:
Every woman can render important service to the Nation in its present emergency. She need not leave her home or abandon her home duties to help the armed forces. She can help to feed and clothe our armies and help to supply food to those beyond the seas by practicing effective thrift in her own household.
Every ounce of food the housewife saves from being wasted in her home-all food which she or her children produce in the garden and can or preserve-every garment which care and skilled repair make it unnecessary to replace-all lessen that household's draft on the already insufficient world supplies.
To save food the housewife must learn to plan economical and properly balanced meals, which, while nourishing each member of the family properly, do not encourage overeating or offer excessive and wasteful variety. It is her duty to use all effective methods to protect food from spoilage by heat, dirt, mice or insects. She must acquire the culinary ability to utilize every bit of edible food that comes into her home. She must learn to use such foods as vegetables, beans, peas, and milk products as partial substitutes for meat. She must make it her business to see that nothing nutritious is thrown away or allowed to be wasted.
Waste in any individual household may seem to be insignificant, but if only a single ounce of edible food, on the average, is allowed to spoil or be thrown away in each of our 20,000,000 homes, over 1,300,000 pounds of material would be wasted each day. It takes the fruit of many acres and the work of many people to raise, prepare and distribute 464,000,000 pounds of food a year. Every ounce of food thrown away, therefore, tends also to waste the work of any army of busy citizens
Clothing is largely an agricultural product and represents `the results of labor on the sheep ranges, in cotton fields and in mills and factories. Whenever a useful garment is needlessly discarded, material needed to keep some one warm or dry may be consumed merely to gratify a passing fancy. Women would do well to look upon clothing at this time more particularly from the utilitarian point of view.
Leather, too, is scarce, and the proper shoeing of armies calls for great supplies of this material. There are only so many pairs of shoes in each hide, and there is a shortage of animals for leather as well as for meat. Anything that can be done to encourage adults or children to take care of their shoes and make them last longer, meaning that so much more leather is made available for other purposes.
Employed women, especially those engaged in the manufacture of food or clothing, also directly serve their country and should put into their tasks the enthusiasm and energy the importance of their product warrants.
While all honor is due to the women who leave their homes to nurse and care for those wounded in battle, no woman should feel that because she does not wear a nurse's uniform she is absolved from patriotic service. The home women of the country, if they will give their minds fully to this vital subject of food conservation and train themselves in household thrift, can make of the housewife apron a uniform of national significance.
Demonstrate thrift in your homes and encourage thrift among your neighbors.
Make saving rather than spending your social standard
Make economy fashionable lest it become obligatory.
Recognizing that the various problems involved in the production, conservation, distribution and consumption of food constitute one of the nation's most vital war considerations, the President appointed Mr. Herbert C. Hoover as National Food Administrator, and one of the first official acts of Mr. Hoover was a call to the women of America. At the meeting of representatives of national organizations of Women called by the Woman's Committee of the Council of National Defense, and held in Washington, June 19, 1917, Mr. Hoover made his first appeal. On this occasion he announced his intention to ask the women to sign a food pledge card and he sought to use the machinery that had been created by the Woman's Committee of the Council of National Defense for distributing, signing and delivering these pledges. The spirit of that meeting, as voiced by the leaders present, was one of cordial interest in Mr. Hoover's plan, and the assistance of the women of the country through the organizations was immediately pledged. However, Mr. Hoover had set a date so near the time of this meeting that women experienced in nation-wide campaigns feared that there was not time enough to stir the women of the country to a sense of their duty, and to bring them to a perfect understanding of what the National Food Administrator expected of them. This fear, and some doubt of the complete success of the campaign, was expressed by Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, who spoke out of a wide experience in such matters, and who asked that more time for preparation be given. That this fear and this doubt were justified, subsequent events showed. But too much cannot be said in praise of the way the leaders in every state in the Union responded to the request from national headquarters, and if the first campaign in the interest of the signed pledge cards was not as complete a success outwardly as was hoped for, it was not because the women all over the country did not do their utmost to carry out Mr. Hoover's wishes. Furthermore, if the actual number of signed pledge cards was less than national leaders had hoped for, it is impossible to calculate the enormous educative value of the campaign, and there is no doubt but that through this campaign, a firm foundation was laid for more thorough and more constructive work that was to follow.
The Woman's Committee of the Council of National Defense used every wheel in every machine in each of the states to make this campaign successful, and from national headquarters at Washington letter after letter went out filled with illumination and inspiration to the women all over the country. Not only in this campaign did the committee use this machinery with telling effect, but at the request of the Commercial Economy Board the committee sent out numerous letters in the interest of various campaigns inaugurated by that branch of the Council of National Defense. Notable among these was the bread saving campaign. Miss Ida Tarbell, one of America's most brilliant and influential writers, wrote, and the Woman's Committee sent out, some extremely interesting and instructive letters on this subject. Miss Tarbell also made voluntary contributions to the magazines and newspapers of the country in the interest of this campaign, the success of which is evidenced by the statement from the Commercial Economy Board to the effect that great quantities of bread formerly wasted are now saved.
The elimination of waste in all directions has occupied the attention of the Woman's Committee, as well as the individual women of the country, and the campaign in the interest of cutting down the cost of deliveries has also been considered extremely efficacious The points involved in this campaign were complicated and it was difficult in the beginning to show how the reduction in the cost of deliveries was to mean a saving to the individual consumer. Immediately women began to ask, "I am willing to carry small parcels home if by so doing I can help the Government; but if I have to pay the same price for goods I take home that I do for goods delivered, how does this help me and how does it help the Government?" The question involved was a deep one, but all over the country business men individually and through commercial organizations, as well as through national committees appointed for the purpose have been busy working out readjustment plans to meet the new situation There is no doubt but that in the near future, through the cooperation of the women of the country, the cost of deliveries will be reduced, to the profit of the consumer and to the benefit of the Government; while men, motors and horses in large numbers will be released for important work of value to the Government in the prosecution of war.
The Woman's Committee of the Council of National Defense appointed Miss Tarbell chairman of its committee on Food Administration, and, until overwork compelled her to take a complete rest, Miss Tarbell worked early and late at her desk at the Woman's Committee headquarters, at the same time giving several hours a day of her valuable time to the National Food Administration. Only those who have been close to Miss Tarbell, and who have seen her working despite physical frailty, day after day and week after week, can appreciate the value of the service she has rendered and the spirit of self-sacrificing patriotism that has inspired her.
There have been various efforts to estimate correctly the amount of food that has been canned, dried and preserved in America during the first year of the war. One fourth of our country's diet consists of vegetables, and yet, next to Australians, Americans are the world's greatest meat eaters. Census returns show that we produce, exclusive of potatoes and sweet potatoes, vegetables to the value of $216,000,000. The tomato takes first rank with a $14,000,000 production to its credit; the onion contributes one-half as much to the total, while corn is third in the list. The annual production of watermelons is valued at $5,000,000, and cantaloupes at $4,000,000. These figures are based on products that reach the city markets and do not include vegetables raised for private consumption. The Food Administrator made an urgent and definite appeal to the women of the country to preserve as much of these products for winter use as possible in order to save wheat and other food stuffs so badly needed by our allies. Modern machinery has made the canning, drying and preserving of fruit and vegetables comparatively simple. There are hulling machines which will take green peas out of the pods at the rate of one thousand bushels per day; there are separators which will grade the peas according to size; there are corn cutters which remove the grain from the cob at the rate of four thousand ears an hour, and silking machines which will work at equal speed-to say nothing of the automatic machine which will fill twelve thousand cans a day.
Perhaps no feature of the national food conservation program in which women had a share has been productive of more practical results and has meant more saving in actual dollars and cents than has that of saving the hundreds of tons of food that are annually wasted because of the condemnation by health authorities of the larger cities. Much of this is sound. Often boxes of fruits or vegetables are condemned because the cartons have become damp or insecure, or because top layers of fruits or vegetables have become spoiled because of careless handling. The cost of resorting such products to the merchant makes impracticable his rehandling them. In New York City where tons of such food are dumped in the river every day, the women secured permission to reclaim that part of this salvage which was good. With voluntary labor they sorted fruits and vegetables, which were resubmitted to the public health authorities, and which were passed by them. They opened community canning centers, and women who could spare a few hour a day to help pick, sort, prepare or can the food were paid for their labor by a system of time cards, redeemable with either fresh fruits and vegetables at the time, or in canned goods later when the food shortage began to be felt. By this means an enormous amount of wholesome food was saved, not only in New York but throughout the country.
Closely related to the problem of food conservation was that of food production, and the Woman's Committee appointed as its chairman for this work, Mrs.
Stanley McCormick, The division is known as that of "Food Production and Home Economics. "At the request of Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, chairman of the Woman's Committee, Miss Helen W. Atwater of the Home Economics office of the Department of Agriculture was assigned to cooperate with the Woman's Committee. Miss Atwater spends some time each day at her desk at the Woman's Committee headquarters. Her work consists in making available for the committee the services of the Home Economics specialists in the Department of Agriculture and in the various State Agricultural Colleges. Miss Atwater is well qualified for these important duties. She is the daughter of the late Dr. W. O. Atwater, a pioneer in food nutrition investigations of the Department of Agriculture, the results of which are being utilized today by Great Britain and France in their war operations.
Parallel in importance with the subject of food conservation is that of food production, and in this also the women of America have been conspicuously successful, and have made a contribution of inestimable value to the national war program. Not only have the farm women of America participated in this highly patriotic work, but the city women have done unheard-of things with most spectacular success. Mr. Charles Lathrop Pack, president of the National Emergency Food Gardens Commission, and president of the American Forestry Association, is responsible for the statement that the value of the crops raised on back yard lots is $350,000,000, and when asked as to what part women had in achieving this stupendous result, Mr. Pack said, "The women did it all." As the result of Mr. Pack's personal interest in this movement and the expert way in which the campaign conducted by the Emergency Food Gardens Commission was managed, 1,100,000 acres of city and town land were cultivated in 1917-and much of this had been previously non-productive. It is estimated that 3,000,000 food gardens were planted in 1917. Mr. Pack called attention to the fact that in 1917 the glass jar manufacturers of this country had delivered to September 1 approximately 119,000,000 quart glass jars. A survey of the household supply of jars in some twenty typical towns throughout the country shows that the housewives of America in 1917 used but one new jar to over three and one-quarter old glass jars on hand. This makes possible the statement that the home women of America in less than one year after war was declared had responded to the call to conserve food to the extent of 460,000,000 quarts. In addition to this it is said that the value of dried fruits and vegetables is several million dollars.
The slogan of the National Emergency Food Gardens Association which originated with Mr. Pack is "Food F. O. B. the Kitchen Door." The members of this commission are Luther Burbank,of California; Dr. Charles W. Eliot of Harvard; Dr. Irving Fisher of Yale; Fred H. Goff, John Hays Hammond, Fairfax Harrison, president of the Southern Railway; Myron T. Herrick, former Ambassador to France; Dr. John Grier Hibben, of Princeton; Emerson McMillin, of New York; A. W. Shaw, of Chicago; Mrs. John Dickinson Sherman of Chicago, chairman conservation department General Federation of Women's Clubs; Captain J. B. White of Kansas City; James Wilson, former Secretary of Agriculture and P. S. Ridsdale, editor of the American Forestry Magazine.
Through Mrs. Sherman, the General Federation of Women's Clubs worked industriously in the efforts toward food conservation. In Kentucky, the National League for Woman's Service carried "The Battle Cry of Feed 'em" to every newspaper. The Women's Suffrage Organization of Virginia, with its one hundred and fifteen branches, did the same. The Boys' and Girls' Club of the Agricultural Extension Service of the various states cooperated enthusiastically, and the Indian schools of the country also enlisted.
The war bureaus of the countries at war figure that there are 38,000,000 men under arms. At a cost of forty cents a day to feed a soldier, the daily food bill of the armies of the world is $15,240,000. This does not touch the thousands of others who have suddenly been drawn from productive enterprise to enter war work. This staggering board bill must be met. Mr. Pack says "Camouflage may deceive a soldier's eye, but you cannot deceive his stomach-he must have real food." The world is looking to the United States for that food.
Early in November, 1917, under Mr. Hoover's direction, a second campaign was inaugurated in the interest of enlisting in active service the housewives of America in the nation's great army of food conservers. In this campaign none of the machinery of the national organizations of women was specifically used. The campaign was managed through a special campaign committee at Washington, headed by Mr. W. E. Ward and Mr. Harvey Hill, men of wide experience in such matters. Both Mr. Hill and Mr. Ward organized with signal success the great Red Cross campaign, which was inaugurated earlier in the year. Workers were enlisted through the State Food Administrators. Every organization of women in the country responded when called upon, as did the individual women everywhere, and half a million workers were soon engaged in enrolling the housewives of America for this great army of food conservers. The second campaign was successful from every standpoint, and as a material evidence of the patriotic spirit of American women, between ten and twelve million household enrollment pledge cards have been signed.
From the foregoing the magnitude of our task may be imagined and women's part may be calculated, for indeed, women are convinced that the main part of this burden is theirs. That they have met with a high spirit of patriotism every single obligation that has been imposed upon them, no one can deny and that they will measure up to every responsibility the future may bring, no one doubts.
Chapter V. Food Conservation
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