I found this food poster from the 1940s a few years ago and I was smitten. Those 6 guidelines for food should replace the food pyramid, my plate, USDA guidelines without a doubt. I love that buying local was a recommendation from WW2–those proto-hipsters! Then somehow the McCarthy era convinced Americans that consumerism was patriotism. I want to do better than I have been as far as these 6 rules go.
I adore this poster and I have wanted to frame it in my house, but the wall space in our kitchen is already spoken for. I think having this visual around daily would be a great nudge in the right direction those nights when I am thinking of “treating” myself to some grubhub.
Of those food rules, I have especially been trying to make less waste, so some hybrid of 5 and 6. I watched a few documentaries on freegans and food waste and was totally disgusted by myself. I stopped buying milk because that is the one thing I always buy “just to have it” and never use, and then toss the second the expiration date is close. I really like unsweetened almond milk as a substitute and it stays good so much longer. A third of food is thrown away. Once a “biodegradable” food product gets buried in the anaerobic landfill, it just sits there, entombed but not decomposing. So to do better for myself and for Biddi less of my food should end up there.
This is another amazing 1940s WW2 poster, although my idea of “food as a weapon” is more like abstaining from meat, processed foods, and only buying organics whenever possible. So I guess my wallet is really the weapon I am wielding in that scenario.
In an effort to live up to my grandmother’s generation, I make sure to use food instead of tossing it when it starts to have a blemish or look not-so-fresh. I am cataloging my produce daily, “one more day until I should wash and freeze those peaches/berries/bananas if I can’t eat them,” says the depression/war era housewife in my head.
With herbs and lettuce, a quick rinse in COLD water perks them right up, as long as they haven’t really started to decompose. If there are bugs in my broccoli or mold in my tomatoes seeds, I cross that bridge when I come to it. For the broccoli: a good wash is good enough and maybe I get a little extra protein? Dark tomato seeds I just remove, as long as there is no mold growing. I usually seed my tomatoes anyway. One thing I really will not eat and exchange is a red pepper if it is mold.
Because food waste starts in the grocery store, I am trying my best to buy the first piece of produce I pick up: no inspecting each pepper or pineapple; just grab and go. It has actually made shopping so much more enjoyable, better.
A short-term goal of mine is to get a worm composting bin to address my own food waste. Biddi will love watching the worms eat scraps (if not because it is inherently entertaining, then because I love it) and its science…and she is getting sick of learning about the planets and water cycle, so this could blow her mind. No I am not joking, I have gone through several iterations of the solar system and ice-water-steam monologues to a 23 month old child. My immediate term solution for my food waste is the garbage disposal, since our pipes are on a sewage system, not a septic system; I consider that a poor man’s compost.
Living in the midwest does present a particular set of problems for Rule #4: Buy Local Foods. In the winter there isn’t much local food to buy. Although our Whole Foods carries Mighty Vine tomatoes from a local greenhouse all winter, and I swear they are as good as any midsummer tomato from the garden. The 1940s patriotic solution from the US Food Administration was canning.
Long Term Goals
And my long term goal is more of my “dream space,” where I live on my own produce year round and I do canning in summer…And I make my own soap à la Fight Club…and I recut old clothes into new ones every season like women did for generations (or “wear leather clothes…” à la Fight Club)
But maybe this is all BS because the sugar ration was like 2 lbs per person a month, which is totally excessive. Also, the same masterminds that create all those other insightful and inspiring food rations posters also made this: