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The Day's food in war and peace
([ca.1918])

Lesson VIII: [The use of locally-grown products and the developemnt of a nearby food supply],   pp. 88-98 PDF (3.2 MB)


Page 89

THE USE OF LOCALLY-GROWN PRODUCTS AND THE 
DEVELOPMENT OF A NEAR-BY FOOD SUPPLY. 
CHARLES J. BRAND, 
Chief, Bureau of Markets, United States Department of Agriculture. 
Naturally the most desirable source of the materials needed to feed the people
of a city or town is the territory close by. Some commodities, including
flour, 
sugar, some kinds of meat, and others that will be thought of by the housewife,
are not, of course, produced in the neighborhood of many cities and in prac-
tically all cases must be shipped in by rail or water. Inasmuch, however,
as 
about 25 per cent by weight of the diet of an average person consists of
vege- 
tables and fruits, it is apparent that a substantial part of the foods used
by the 
average family can be produced in their season in truck gardens and on farms
in close reach, by wagon or truck, of practically all communities. When poultry
and some other meats, eggs, milk and other dairy products, and a large num-
ber of miscellaneous foodstuffs are added to this list, the possibilities
of local 
production become still more important. 
In so far as a city has taken advantage of its opportunities to develop an
economical food supply from its neighboring territory, it has taken the first
step toward an efficient marketing system; in so far as it has neglected
such 
development and ships in from a distance products which could be grown as
economically near by, its marketing system falls short of being efficient.
In- 
vestigations have shown that, measured in this way, the marketing systems
of 
a great many communities leave much to be desired. It is not unusual for
cities 
to receive as low as 3 to 5 per cent of their annual supply of farm products
from the surrounding country. 
The direct results of the failure of cities to develop local food supplies
often 
are shown even in normal times by the relatively higher prices for farm produce
paid by consumers in these cities; by the lack of truck growing among many
farmers who do not find a good outlet for such products; and in sluggish
business conditions among merchants who cater to rural trade. These slow
business conditions are due to the comparatively low buying power of farmers
or to the fact that they seldom visit the  city and are inclined to carry
on 
business through other places. 
Under the conditions created by the war there is still another and, in many
ways, a more important result of the neglect of their logical source of food
supply by cities and the reaching to distant territory for their commodities.
Such a practice adds still more to the already staggering burden carried
by the 
railroads and other transportation facilities. It is difficult to appreciate
the 
tremendous burden which the country's transportation lines carry with refer-
ence to the distribution of foodstuffs. It may be better realized, however,
when 
it is known that in the year past it is estimated that there were from 750,000
to 1,000,000 carloads of fruits and vegetables alone shipped, not to mention
what was transported by express companies in less-than-carload lots. Neither
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