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

Lesson I: [Food and the war],   pp. 7-18 PDF (3.4 MB)


Page 11

11 
incidence of reduction largely falls. The people in war work are In national
defense, and they must have the first call on all supplies. Therefore, any
failure on our part in supplying food will fall upon the class toward which
our 
natural sympathies must be the greatest. There is a point below which the
Aupply can not fall and tranquility be maintained. 
If we are to ship to the Allies the amount that is necessary to give even
the 
minimum of the bread supply to their people we must cut our own consump-
tion by one-half, at least until next harvest. The limit that we propose
on 
allied shipment is simply the limit of our exporting power. It may occur
that 
we must reduce the wheat consumption of the United States more than one-
half. We intend to ship the wheat and flour from here, willy-nilly, but it
Is 
not a simple problem of taking breadstuffs from the people. 
Every shipment of grain-every shipment of wheat-that we can send 
from our ports, is a shipment saved from the Argentine. Every ship can do
double the duty from our ports that it can do from the Argentine. Every 
time that we send a shipment, we save two ships from the Argentine. Every
time we save a ship we save building a ship. Every time we save a ship we
save the transport and the supply of one regiment of American soldiers. 
The Allies have asked us to send reinforcements, larger and faster than we
had expected. If we are to do this we must draw the ships from the Argentine
service and put them into American ports. 
We are asked why we do not ship corn, why we wish to ship wheat. No 
corn can be shipped across the Atlantic for two months after the first of
April, because that is the germinating season for corn and it will not stand
shipment. 
Wheat is a durable grain. From the point of view of interallied feeding,
wheat is absolutely vital. It is the one grain that will serve. Up to this
time the Allies have used some 30 to 40 per cent of corn in their bread.
Their 
bread has been as nothing compared to the bread that we have had in this
country, either in palatablity or luxuriousness. After this, if they are
to 
be fed, they must be fed on wheat-based bread, or on none at all. 
Now, in this period of extreme difficulty in Europe, the time when the morale
of the civil population of our allies is at its lowest ebb, it is not for
us to say, 
"You can wait two months and then you can eat corn." It is for
us to say, 
"You shall receive every single grain of wheat that our ports can handle."
Our population has lived before this on corn. For three years the Southern
States lived and put up a good fight with no wheat. For periods of four and
five years at a stretch no wheat was known to the people of New England.
There is no reason why we should insist on having the most luxurious grain
at this time, when it is our only transportable grain. 
If we consider our own supplies, we find that we have enough of corn. We
have a great surplus of potatoes, vegetables, fish, and poultry. These latter
commodities, however, do not lend themselves to shipment, either from bulk
or 
other reasons. Owing to the limitation of shipping, we must confine our exports
to the most concentrated foodstuffs-grain, beef, pork, fats, and sugar. 
The logical and sensible first step in adapting our supplies to allied needs
is 
to substitute corn, potatoes, vegetables, fish, and poultry for those staples
we 
wish to export. The proportion of vegetables in our national diet is low,
and 
it will not onfy do no harm to increase It but, In fact, will contribute
to public 
health. 
Besides substitution, the other great means of increasing our exportable
sur- 
plus is to cut out waste--the gospel of buying in smaller quantities, serving
smaller portions, cleaning the plate, and using our food wisely in economy.
There are a hundred avenues of saving-If we Inspect the garbage can. 


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