As the United States entered a war-torn Europe in World War I, Americans at home realized they also had an important part to play. President Woodrow Wilson created a US Food Administration with the rallying cry of “Food Will Win the War!”. Its head, Herbert Hoover, insisted that he accept no salary in his role, knowing that he would need the moral authority to get the American people to make the necessary sacrifices. He designed an effort to appeal to the American sense of volunteerism by using the Food Administration’s own Advertising Section, creating a wealth of posters. The posters encouraged voluntary, scientific substitution over rationing, and it was a success: domestic food production increased even as farmers joined the war force, and shipments to the forces abroad grew threefold. This particular poster—Food–don’t waste it—was designed by Fred G. Cooper in 1917. While the poster consists of simple red and black text, the rules feel strikingly modern. “Buy local foods” and “use less wheat and meat” feel like new health fads, but in fact are a return to the past, back when food could win wars.
Buy local, eat less meat, cut back on wheat, consider your portion sizes, cook more, eat nose-to-tail and root-to-tip—these concepts may seem contemporary, perhaps even faddish, but 100 years ago they were flag-waving, war-winning patriotism in action. Designed by Fred G. Cooper, this poster was one of many well-conceived campaigns churned out by the Advertising Section of the U.S. Food Administration during World War I. Emphasizing patriotism and promoting a spirit of volunteerism, all of the posters produced by this section attest to the government’s desire to organize the American populace for the preservation of food resources ... Read more on the blog!