Food Conservation during World War I in American Newspapers

Would you give up meat on Mondays and wheat on Wednesdays to support your country's war efforts? That's what the U.S. Food Administrator Herbert Hoover encouraged during World War I. The United States sent food to Europe for the war effort, and Hoover did not want the government to impose rationing.

So instead, the U.S. government encouraged limiting meat and wheat consumption through running food conservation notices in newspapers nationally, They include recipes for dishes using meat or wheat substitutes and propaganda for food conservation.

Critics called Hoover's food conservation efforts as "Hooverizing." However, they succeeded in saving enough food for American troops overseas and the country's allies after the war, preventing a famine in these countries. At the end of the war in November 1918, the food conservation program ended, and the USFA disbanded.

Hawaii newspapers, including the Maui News, the Garden Island, and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, ran food conservation notices, and some can be seen below.

- Alice Kim

Search Strategies

The Garden Island - Recipes
In the field with all of the words, enter "recipe," and in the Or Select Newspaper(s) list box, select The Garden Island. (Lihue, Kauai, H.T.).

Maui News - "Liberty Catering" column
In the field with the phrase, enter "liberty catering", and in the Or Select Newspaper(s) list box, select The Maui news. (Wailuku, Maui, H.I.).

Honolulu Star-Bulletin - "Saturday Food Specials"
In the field with all of the words, enter "Saturday Food Specials" and in the Or Select Newspaper(s) list box, select Honolulu Star-Bulletin

American Newspapers
In the field with the phrase, enter "food conservation."

In the field with the words, enter "hoover food" and choose 50 in the adjacent drop box.

Food Conservation Notices

This passage in the Garden Island recommended conserving ice to help produce hand grenades:

"Don't waste ice. Don't waste ammonia.
A ton of ice waved may mean one pound of ammonia saved. One pound of ammonia saved may mean twenty hand grenades.
Twenty hand grenades may win a battle.
The Garden Island Food Conservation Section
The Garden Island, May 28, 1918, Page 5, Image 5

The notice also encouraged eating starches other than wheat:

"If you eat--THESE--you eat no wheat / CONTAINS NO WHEAT
Oatmeal, potatoes, rice, hominy, barley, and 100 per cent substitute bread.

100 per cent Breads.
Corn pone, muffins, biscuits, all kinds of bread made only from corn, oats, barley and all other wheat substitutes."

The Garden Island., June 18, 1918, Page 3, Image 3

They are a splendid food. Excellent for your body. Delicious when well cooked.
What they do for your body.
They are good fuel. They furnish starch which burns in your muscles to let you work, much as the gasoline burns in an automobile engine to make it go.
One medium sized potato gives you as much starch as two slices of bread. When you have potatoes for a meal you need less bread. Potatoes can save wheat.
They give you salts like other vegetables. You need the salts to build and renew all the parts of your body and keep it in order.

You can even use potatoes in cake!

"Potatoes are good in cake. They are often used in this way to keep the cake from dying out quickly. Mash the potatoes and beat up with milk until very light. You can use your usual cake receipe [sic], substituting one cup of mashed potatoes for one-half cup of milk and one-half cup of flour."
The Garden Island., June 18, 1918, Page 3, Image 3

The Maui News ran the "Liberty Catering" column by "Maui women." Advocating food conservation, the column contained recommendations on saving food and recipes without wheat or meat.

For example, the following recipes feature banana dishes, including banana salad, banana vegetable, banana soup, and baked bananas and bacon:
8. Banana Salad
Roll sliced bananas in mayonnaise and then in finely crushed walnuts. Serve on lettuce.

9. Banana Salad, No. 2
Cube bananas after peeling, mix with an equal amount cooked green peas and let stand in a French dressing 1/2 hour. Drain, arrange on a lettuce leaf, put a few slices of banana on top and cover lightly with mayonnaise.

10. For a Vegetable
Cut partly green bananas quite small. Boil 10 minutes and serve in a cream sauce well seasoned. Avoid cooking in an iron or tin pan.

The Maui news., July 27, 1917, Page FIVE, Image 5

Here are recipes for banana soup and baked bananas and bacon:

19. Banana Soup
Melt 1 tbl. butter and add 1 tbl. flour. When bubbling add 1 pint milk and stir well until smooth and creamy. Add 3/4 cup banana pulp and cook 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

20. Baked Bananas and Bacon
Split lengthwise 6 partly ripe bananas. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, lay a thin strip of bacon on each half. Bake in hot oven about ten minutes [sic]

The Garden Island. (Lihue, Kauai, H.T.) 1902-current, June 18, 1918, Page 3, Image 3

The shortage of fruits prompted encouragement to give vegetable marmalades a try:

Give Vegetables Marmalades a Trial
If you have never eaten vegetable conserves and marmalades, you will naturally be a bit skeptical. The United States Food Administration, however, is willing to assure you that they are good. Since most of the fruits are now gone, the sugar that may now be obtained without restriction can be used to make vegetable marmalades, which, by being used on bread can save butter.
Carrot Marmalade
2 cups ground carrot
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 sliced lemons
2 teaspoons ground ginger root
Cover carrot with water, and cook slowly until tender. Add remaining ingredients, cook until thick and clear.

The Maui news., January 03, 1919, Page SIX, Image 6

Tired of chocolate and tapioca pudding? Try carrot pudding!

Carrot Pudding
One cup grated raw carrots
1 cup grated raw potato
1 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. soda
lump of butter
Steam 2 or 3 hours. Serve hot like any steam-pudding.

The Maui news. (Wailuku, Maui, H.I.) 1900-current, December 14, 1917, Page EIGHT, Image 8

With animal gelatin in short supply, housewives also had the option of creating war jelly made with Japanese sea moss (kanten):

7. War Jelly (substitute for animal gelatin.)
In 1 quart water, boil 2 bars, "kanten" (Japanese sea moss carried by all plantation stores) until dissolved. Will take about ten minutes. Add 1 cup brown sugar and when melted, strain through cheesecloth. Add any flavoring desired. Lemon juice, canned cocoanut, wine, tea, grape juice, sliced bananas, guava syrup to taste, all make pleasant combinations. These proportions make a stiff jelly which will become firm in half an hour without the use of ice.

The Maui news., November 09, 1917, Page SEVEN, Image 7

Food conservation notices appeared in newspapers nationally as well. Here are recipes for wheatless biscuits and corn muffins that appeared in papers in several states:

Wheatless Biscuits
Parched cornmeal is the feature of these excellent wheatless biscuits. First, the cornmeal--one-half a cup--is put in a shallow pan placed in the oven and stirred frequently until it is a delicate brown. The other ingredients are a teaspoon of salt, a cup of peanut butter and one and a half cups of water. Mix the peanut butter, water and salt and heat. While this mixture is hot stir in the meal which should also be hot. Beat thoroughly. The dough should be of such consistency that it can be dropped from a spoon. Bake in small cakes in an ungreased pan. This makes 16 biscuits, each of which contains one-sixth of an ounce of protein.
Delicious Corn Muffins
Here's an old fashioned recipe for corn muffins that has recently been revived and used with unusual success in several of the larger New York hotels: To make three and a half dozen muffins take one quart milk, six ounces butter substitute, twelve ounces of light syrup or honey, four eggs, pinch of salt, two ounces baking powder, one and a half pounds cornmeal and one and a half pounds rye flour. The butter and syrup should be thoroughly mixed; then add the eggs gradually. Pour in the milk and add the rye flour mixed with cornmeal and baking powder.

Wheatless biscuits and corn muffins
The Princeton union., January 31, 1918, Page 6, Image 6