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The War Garden Victorious


 

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CHAPTER XVII

WHY WE SHOULD USE DRIED FOODS
The War-Time Need of "Multum in Parvo" (Much in Little)

Necessity is said to be the mother of invention; and one of the children to whom Necessity has had to give birth during the American industrial development of the last half-century, and the rapid growth of our cities, was an adequate system of storing up food for winter use and of distributing the food so preserved. It is only within recent years that fresh, succulent vegetables have been obtainable in winter time; and for most people the cost of these is absolutely prohibitive. At first the canning of food products met the needs of the situation, and the last score or two of years have witnessed an incredible development of commercial canning and distribution of food products.
    The continued development of our cities with their teeming populations, and particularly the necessities of war time, with their demands for multum in parvo have made imperative a still further advance in the matter of food conservation and distribution. This is particularly true at this time because ahead of us we can distinctly see the lean years yawn, even as Pharaoh beheld the hungry kine in his dream.

    History is said to repeat itself; and assuredly we have witnessed an historic repetition in the creation of a food administrator to watch over our stores, even as Joseph was appointed to prepare against the lean years that overtook the dwellers along the Nile. Joseph, representing autocracy, took the task into his own hands. Mr. Hoover, acting for democracy, asked us to do the job ourselves. Both cut the Gordian knot of their perplexity in much the same way. Joseph dried the excess corn and stored it in his granaries. Mr. Hoover asked us to can and dry our garden surplus. In each case food conservation won the day. Indeed, so close is the parallel between events in Joseph's day and ours, that no more accurate description of what is doing in the world to-day can be found than the Scriptural recitation of occurrences along the Nile: "The dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. ...And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn."
    Even so all countries are coming to America to secure wheat and meat, and particularly fats. Here occurs the feature that differentiates present-day conditions from those of Joseph's time. Joseph's customers could come to him on dry land; but a mighty ocean, three thousand miles wide, lies between America and her starving customers. Before they can get food they must have ships. Even that mighty tonnage pictured in Lloyd George's phrase, "Ships, ships, and still more ships," can hardly transport the food fast enough to save the starving world from starvation. Dean Swift called for benedictions upon the head of him who made two blades of grass or two ears of corn to grow where only one had grown before. To-day, he might add to his list those who deserve well of mankind those who can transport two tons of food where only one was transported before. In effect that is what is made possible by the preservation of food through drying, for in drying, foods lose both bulk and weight.

    This reduction in weight of dried vegetables and fruits ranges from five-sixths to eleven-twelfths with even greater reduction in some cases. A California operator furnishes these figures for shrinkage: Potatoes, about six to one; cabbage, about twenty to one; tomatoes, about twenty to one; spinach, about eighteen to one; turnips, fourteen to one; carrots, about nine to one. Less than three pounds of dried tomatoes, for instance, are equivalent of sixty pounds of canned tomatoes. Not only are the products much shrunken, when taken from the drier, but they may be still more compressed in packing so that the bulk is further lessened. This reduction in weight also lowers transportation costs. A shipping incident serves to illustrate clearly the economy involved. Fifty pounds of fresh Brussels sprouts were shipped in the winter of 1917-18 by express from California to an eastern point at twelve cents a pound. Adding to this cost of $6.00 the cost of shipping with the vegetables one hundred pounds of ice at twelve cents a pound, there was a total transportation charge of $18.00. The equivalent of these fifty pounds of fresh Brussels sprouts, namely three pounds of dried products, which required no ice,  might have been shipped to the same point by parcel post for thirty-five or thirty-six cents.

    With such an average reduction in bulk, the space required for transportation and storage is far less than that required for either fresh or canned products. In certain instances the reduction is very great. It varies with the percentage of water in fresh products. One carload of dried tomatoes, for example, is equivalent to thirty carloads of canned tomatoes.
    Especially are dried products adapted for our military camps, fleets, and overseas fighting force. Army officials estimate that two men are needed daily to prepare potatoes and other vegetables for every one hundred soldiers. Dried vegetables are already prepared and are ready to cook, after soaking in water. In an army of 2,000,000 men their use would release nearly 40,000 men for other tasks. As the original preparation of vegetables for drying is done largely by simple and inexpensive machinery, there is thus a tremendous saving of man-power. The shrinkage in bulk makes dried products acceptable and fitting naval stores, and trans-ocean freight.
    Germany's stores of dried vegetables greatly helped her in carrying on the war. During the last year of which the United States government has any official record, Germany dried, in potatoes alone, more than twice the entire quantity raised in this country. She more than doubled the number of her plants after starting the war, and has now more than two thousand. There are in Germany fifty-six firms supplying complete drying apparatus, and thirty-seven other firms which supply auxiliary machines and parts. The drying is applied to vegetables chiefly, only about twenty-two plants being for milk-drying.

Toothsome Viands at Dried Food LuncheonTOOTHSOME VIANDS AT DRIED FOOD LUNCHEON
When Mrs. Robert Lansing, wife of the Secretary of State, entertained a group of prominent Washington matrons at luncheon, the entire bill of fare was made up of dried foods. The six-course meal included bouillon from dried vegetables, dried chicken, a Neapolitan salad made of dried peas, dried lima beans and dried tomatoes with cream cheese filling. All the foods were restored to their original volume by steaming and soaking before they were served.

    Despite all these facts one finds practically no dried vegetables for sale at retail in America, and only a limited amount of dried fruit. Outside of government contracts there has been and is little or no market for dried products. The National War Garden Commission has inquired carefully into the matter, and has corresponded with most of the commercial drying concerns in the country. One and all report that, aside from contracts with the War Department, they have practically no market for their products.
    It is highly desirable that markets for dried foods be created and speedily. The food situation in the world is to-day more critical than it was at any time during the war. The task of feeding themselves has taxed to the utmost the United States and her co-belligerents. Now peace imposes upon these defenders of civilization a task that is simply appalling. German submarine warfare reduced to actual starvation the 180,000,000 people in the neutral nations of Europe. Beyond question we must rescue these unfortunates from starvation, by sharing with them. It is apparent, too, that our responsibility does not end there. Austria and the new nations which were formerly a part of that country together with Bulgaria, Turkey, and Russia, are also starving. If we are to have lasting peace in the world, if we are to have stable governments and the settled conditions of existence, which alone make progress possible––in short, if we are to make safe that condition of democracy for which we have fought, these people must be fed.

    "Hunger," said Robinson Crusoe, "knows no friend, no relation, no justice, no right, and therefore is remorseless and capable of no compassion." Hunger will endanger the peace of any community or nation. However we may feel toward our former enemies, the best good of the world, including America, demands that they have enough to eat. Otherwise there can be no settled peace, no progress, no reconstruction. Fate has placed largely upon American shoulders the burden of helping the world's hunger over the critical years that lie immediately before us.
    This being the case, we must have conservation, conservation, and still more conservation. We must produce more food than ever before and conserve every ounce produced. As much as possible of this excess should be conserved in the form which best meets the needs of the situation. For use in our homes canned foods are highly desirable, but for shipment abroad, dehydrated products will be particularly needed. France needs steel and wood and cement and a thousand other kinds of material for the rebuilding of those vast ruins which once were French cities. All Europe needs cattle, millions of cattle, to make good the present shortages and needs cattle-feed by the trainload. Ships will be needed to carry our own soldiers back home. The demands on shipping space will be almost beyond conception. Whatever saves space, therefore, is a prime requisite in the upbuilding of a ruined world. Since food is the first of all requirements, we should by all means adopt and develop that method of food shipment which calls for least space. This means that we should greatly increase the use of dried foods.

    One thing alone stands in the way of a large development of the commercial drying industry. Aside from government contracts, the food driers have at present practically no market for their products. Manufacturer after manufacturer has so reported to the National War Garden Commission, and practically all report that it is difficult to create a market. The period of government contracts is limited. Army consumption will decrease rapidly. Faced with this situation, food driers naturally do not care greatly to enlarge their plants.
    Something must therefore be done to create a market for dried foods. For one thing, an educational advertising campaign on the part of the operators is to be strongly urged. A western company writes of the astonishment of visitors "at the simple and sanitary method of handling the fruits or vegetables," and their interest "because of the very apparent economy of the method." With this as  premise an intelligent advertising campaign should quickly create a market. The establishment of government-controlled plants and government advertising would more quickly and thoroughly create markets, however, than the usual procedure of private companies. Dried foods are practically "new" foods, and the acquisition of a new food habit by a whole people is exceedingly slow, unless the government systematically undertakes its establishment.

The policy of the Department of Agriculture in regard to the use of the drying fund of $250,000 appropriated by Congress, will be of great economic significance. Such a fund has been strongly needed, and makes possible enlarged and nation-wide help in the urgent matter of drying vegetables and fruits, and placing them in the homes of the people.
    The appropriation will be used in conducting further experiments with dehydration of food products and carrying this knowledge to the American people. The Secretary of Agriculture has appointed Major S.C. Prescott, who was in the food division of the surgeon general's office, United States army, and Mr. Lou D. Sweet, of the United States Food Administration, as a committee to carry out the purposes of the appropriation. Major Prescott was professor of micro-biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before he was called into war service.
    When the appropriation became available, plans were promptly made for beginning the dehydration experiments. Able construction engineers and other experts whose services could be helpful were called in to aid in this work which Mr. Sweet characterizes as "one of the biggest benefits that has come to the American people as a result of the war." Soon after the committee was organized plans were under way looking to the construction of several dehydration plants with a capacity each of from 60,000 to 100,000 pounds daily of raw product.

Drying Peaches in CaliforniaDRYING PEACHES IN CALIFORNIA
This shows fruit drying on a large scale. The structure of trays and arrangement of fruit are of interest. The shed in the background is used for the preparation of the fruit. Stacks of trays and lug boxes are also pictured.

    These plants are not to be built by the government but by private corporations with which the government will coöperate in making an economic and commercial success of the process so as to help establish a permanent market with the American people for dried foods. In order to do this it is necessary, first to educate the people of this country to the value and the use of such products, and, second, to have the dehydrated foods of such attractive appearance and palatability and of a price so comparable with the average price of the products in their undried form, that they may be marketed in paying quantities.
    The federal government and the states, by conducting propaganda directed toward a general use of dried fruits and vegetables, would be performing a needed service toward the preservation of health, with increased economy to all concerned. Advertising on the part of private operators, can be done only in so far as it pays them, and it would take several years and millions of dollars to establish a general retail sale of dried food articles.
    Furthermore, it is necessary to establish standards. It would be a serious error to allow an inferior class of products to be put forward at this time. The movement would receive a decided check. Commercially dried vegetables should contain a given percentage of moisture, scientifically correct; they should be packed in proper containers, and stored in cool places. So prepared and handled, dried foods will be 100 per cent. free from spoilage. Again, blanching is expensive in commercial drying, and its omission necessitates very thorough drying of products to insure their preservation.

    Some products, however, such as Irish potatoes, require blanching before drying in order that the dried product may be satisfactorily utilized. These do not "come back" well if dried without blanching. In getting these new foods on the market, therefore, it is desirable that the government draw up strict regulations, just as it has done for other foods through the national pure food laws.*

 

CONTENTS

 

Title

I.

How the National War Garden Commission Came into Being

II.

The Story of the War Garden

III.

How War Gardens Helped

IV.

Types of War Gardens

V.

Uncle Sam's First War Garden

VI.

How Big Business Helped

VII.

How the Railroads Helped

VIII.

The Army of School Gardeners

IX.

Community Gardening

X.

Cooperation in Gardening

XI.

War Gardens as City Assets

XII.

The Part Played by Daylight Saving

XIII.

The Future of War Gardening

XIV.

Conserving the Garden Surplus

XV.

Community Conservation

XVI.

Conservation by Drying

XVII.

Why We Should Use Dried Foods

XVIII.

The Future of Dehydration

XIX.

Cooperation of the Press
  Chapter 19 - Cartoon Illustrations
   
 

APPENDIX

  "War Gardening,"
Victory Edition, 1919
INDEX
Cover / Letters / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15 / 16 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 21 / 22 / 23 / 24 / 25 / 26 / 27 / 28 / 29 / 30 / 31 / 32
More Letters / Back

 
  "Home Canning and Drying," Victory Edition, 1919
INDEX
Cover / Letters / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15 / 16 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 21 / 22 / 23 / 24 / 25 / 26 / 27 / 28 / 29 / 30 / 31 / 32
More Letters / Back
 
 


Color Plates

  Sow the Seeds of Victory - Every Garden a Munition PlantWILL YOU HAVE A PART IN VICTORY?

"Every Garden a Munition Plant"

James Montgomery Flagg


  War Garden Victorious Poster - War Gardens Over The TopA Poster Spreading the Idea of Militant War Gardens

Maginel Wright Enright


  War Garden Victorious Poster - Every Garden a Peace PlantA Poster for 1919, Symbolic of Victory

Maginel Wright Enright


  War Garden Victorious Poster - Can Vegetables, Fruits and the Kaiser tooCAN VEGETABLES, FRUIT AND THE KAISER TOO

J. Paul Verrees

A Poster Which Was Used in 1918, and Which, Amended–Following Germany's Defeat–Was Also Forceful in 1919

   
 

OTHER POSTERS

  We can can vegetables, fruti and the Kaiser too We can can Vegetables Fruit and the Kaiser too