Recommended Reading: Food Will Win the War

Food Will Win the War, written by Rae Katherine Eighmey and published by the University of Minnesota Press, chronicles the food conservation measures put in place during World War I, with a specific focus on the efforts of Minnesotans.

Government edicts on the conservation of wheat, meats, fats, and sugars that were needed to feed Allied troops and citizens of European countries whose agricultural production was affected by hostilities (specifically France) forced Extension agents, households, and communities to invent recipes and strategies to stretch or replace these valuable commodities, as well as to become more self-sufficient in their own food production.

The book also includes many of the recipes devised by farm magazine authors and editors, Extension agents, and housewives–including several for “war breads” and cakes.

Readers familiar with the “Victory Gardens” of WWII may be surprised to learn that war efforts on the “food front” were nothing new–Congress’ approval of the first U.S. Food Administration, led by Herbert Hoover, came in August of 1917.

Hoover’s conservation agenda included recommendations to, “use local foodstuffs to avoid unnecessary transportation of goods; use perishable foods to save staples; [and to] eliminate waste in all possible ways…” (21).

This book is timely as a reminder that local foods can play a valuable part in the economy of households–it’s not just for the elite with money to burn, but for communities to take control of their health and welfare, and to reinvigorate their local economy and infrastructure.

While it has been many decades since our federal government last called us to patriotic duty conserving food and “growing our own,” Food Will Win the War gives some valuable insights on how such programs could be implemented if a broad-scale effort garnered sufficient federal and state support.

This book is available to borrow through the Ortonville Public Library and the Pioneerland Library System, and also for purchase through the author’s website, linked to at top.

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