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The War Garden Victorious


 

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CHAPTER XVIII

THE FUTURE OF DEHYDRATION
Tall Oaks From Little Acorns Grow

"Dehydration has come to stay in this country and, while it may still be regarded as in the experimental stage, those who are most familiar with the problems of food production and conservation are firm in the opinion that we are seeing only the beginning of what is sure to expand into an enormous and most important industry." This is the statement of an international food expert, a man who probably knows more on the subject of dried foods than any other authority in the United States. It was made in a recent letter to the National War Garden Commission, by Lou D. Sweet, president of the Potato Association of America, popularly known as the "Potato King." Mr. Sweet was selected by Mr. Hoover as head of the dehydration section of the United States Food Administration, and has more recently, in association with Major S.C. Prescott, U.S.A., been enlisted in the government development of dehydration.

    While the drying of food, like some of the other lost arts, is almost as old as the human race itself, still its value and its importance have been brought to the fore by the European war. Necessity has meant the development of an industry which was well-nigh extinct. War gardening and the home production of food have called the attention of the country and its people to the merit of drying as a form of vegetable and fruit conservation. The spread of the drying idea made satisfactory progress during the second season of war gardening in the United States. While there was no general practice of the method, nevertheless a fair beginning was made which is bound to lead to widespread and more rapid growth along this line in the future. The seed has been sown; the home food producers of the United States have seen the advantages offered by this means of saving food, and more and more of them are certain to practice it.
    The process is really very old, and has been used at times by almost every people in the world. The skill of the squaw in drying corn and the few fruits and vegetables which the American aborigine possessed was all that stood between the Indian family and starvation in the long, cold winters when game was scarce. Our grandmothers made toothsome pumpkin pies from the dried product, while they decorated the attic and the kitchen with long rows of dried apples and peaches. From the Indians they learned also to dry berries and other small fruits. They possessed no glass jars and few of the conveniences which every modern housewife thinks essential; but they managed to vary the monotony of the winter diet with those dried products which cost them nothing but their work. The world has progressed rapidly in many respects during the past few generations. Science and industry have provided many household helps which could not be enjoyed fifty or a hundred years ago. It is obvious, however, that some of the habits and customs which were in vogue in the earlier days may now be taken up again with profit. Among these is the drying of vegetables and fruits. Thanks to the careful study and research which have been given to this subject, the work can now be performed with greater ease and with more certainty of success than was possible in the past.

Preparing Raisins for the MarketPREPARING RAISINS FOR THE MARKET
Raisin drying forms an important industry in California. In this picture the operation is shown in a large vineyard. The trays are raised slightly from the ground and supported on timbers.

    Canning is the method which the average American housewife uses in laying by a store of garden products for winter consumption. A great impetus was given to this process by the Civil War; and now it seems as if another war were to be responsible for the introduction to the world, on a large scale, of another food conservation process, namely that of drying. As the possibilities, advantages and details of operation of this process become better known, it will take a larger and larger place both in the home and as a commercial proposition.
    Important factors to be taken into consideration by the victory gardener in connection with food drying, are the saving in containers and in pantry-space. Almost any sort of a receptacle can be employed for the storage of dried food. Baking-powder cans and similar covered tins, pasteboard boxes having tight-fitting covers, strong paper bags, and patented paraffin-paper boxes which may be bought in quantities at slight expense, make excellent containers for this class of preserved food. They are not heavy and so do not require especially strong shelves. Besides they do not occupy much space––a thing which in many homes is at a premium.

    Scientists have pointed the way and by their careful research have discovered methods by which potatoes and other vegetables can be dried so that they will retain all their original flavor and food value over long periods of time and under all conditions of weather and temperature. In going into the work on a commercial scale and in preparing such food for large bodies of people such as an army, where some of the products may not be consumed for many months and where they are likely to undergo many changes of temperature in being transported from place to place, it is necessary, of course, to observe scientific precision in the preparation and packing of the goods. For home consumption no such elaborate processes need be followed. This is why any household may prepare with ease its own supplies of this sort. As practiced in the home, vegetable and fruit drying is largely a matter of following with reasonable care a few simple rules. During the season of 1918 the National War Garden Commission distributed throughout the United States almost two million copies of its canning and drying book which gave all needed instructions. Thousands of war gardeners, both as individuals and through community effort, added a considerable amount to their winter store by vegetable and fruit drying.

    It was during the Boer War that dried foods were used for the first time to any extent in the provisioning of an army. Large quantities of these goods were shipped from Canada to South Africa by the British War Office, and the experiment proved a complete success. Some of the unused product was on hand at the beginning of the European war, and when opened, was found to be in a perfect state of preservation. The British soldiers in South Africa could not distinguish between the dried vegetables they were eating and the food to which they were accustomed, and they throve exceedingly well on it. John Hays Hammond, the internationally renowned mining engineer who took such a prominent part in the development of the South African territory and who is a member of the National War Garden Commission, is familiar with this matter. In discussing it he said:

    The supplies of dried vegetables which were shipped from Canada to South Africa during the Boer War were found to be just as palatable, just as nutritious, as any of the other rations. I doubt if a single one of the men could have told the difference between this part of their mess and the other edibles that were furnished them. Certainly this is borne out by what a close friend of mine, Dr. Charles L. Lindley, of Lakewood, New Jersey, himself born in South Africa and an army surgeon during Lord Robert's campaign there, recently told me of the experiment. His experience with dried vegetables confirms every claim that can be made for them as a valuable part of a soldier's rations.

    It was largely due to the successful results obtained during the Boer War that the British War Office was led to adopt dried vegetables as part of the soldier's supply during the recent war. Since the outbreak of the European struggle the British and French governments have purchased no less than 50,000,000 pounds of dried foods from Canada alone. Following their example the Quartermaster-General's Office of the United States War Department prepared to make similar use of this kind of food. In the spring of 1918 the army used 14,000,000 pounds of dehydrated goods, and later an order was placed with American and Canadian food driers for more than 40,000,000 pounds to be delivered before July 1, 1919.
    The use of food that is recognized as a valuable army ration and as a war-time economy, is to be encouraged in normal times. The same reasons which made it practical and economical during the war will be arguments in favor of its continued and increased use. Certainly for many years to come, just how many nobody can say, food will be a world problem. In the solution of this problem dried food can and should play a constantly growing part.

Boxes for Drying RaisinsBOXES FOR DRYING RAISINS
A load of 190 "sweat boxes" for curing raisins being hauled by caterpillar tractor to a big vineyard at Dinuba, California, where many tons of this fruit are dried and prepared for the market every year. Practically every kind of garden vegetable can be conserved by drying, as well as the few well-known fruits to which the American people are accustomed.

    The expert testimony in favor of dehydration is well summed up in a statement by David Fairchild, agricultural explorer in charge of the Office of Foreign Plant Introduction, United States Department of Agriculture. He has made this statement:

    I believe the American public should learn to use dried vegetables, because in so doing great economies can be brought about in this country as they have been in Germany and Austria. The dehydrated vegetable saves transportation of both bulky fresh vegetables and bulky canned vegetables, not only those portions which are actually consumed but the waste which forms so large a part of the garbage of our cities. The dehydrated vegetable saves tin, since it can be put up in paper containers. It saves labor in the small home where the convenience of its use is apparent. It saves in wastage at the point of production and in the home. We little appreciate how gigantic the wastage of fresh vegetables is, and this wastage is largely because the vegetables are too cheap on the market in the height of the season to warrant a grower to ship them to it, and it is here that dehydration should play an important part.
    There is nothing in the vegetable situation which confronts us to-day to assure us of cheaper vegetables in the future. We must not forget the small proportion of women gardeners in this country as compared with women field-workers of France and Germany and even England, and vegetables require a large amount of hand labor to produce. Where is the labor coming from?
    Possessing as we do such remarkable food as Indian corn, and having learned, as we have, to like it, there would seem to be a danger that we depend too fully upon it and, with the increasing price of vegetables, fail to realize that as we increase our corn consumption we require greater quantities of butter, milk, meat, fats, or vegetables to supply the food essentials lacking in corn. As the fresh vegetables become scarcer on the markets, it would become more and more difficult to do this, and the result predicted by dietitians is malnutrition among those who think they cannot afford to buy the vegetables. We should learn to use these dried vegetables to supplement the grain ration.
    It is easy to see a hundred reasons why we should not eat dried vegetables, but it is unscientific and unpatriotic to shut our eyes to their possibilities. As a people we should move ahead into the field of dehydrated vegetables, develop it, discard what is not good, hold what is good, and make it a means to stabilize those vegetables the price of which fluctuates now in a most unsatisfactory and dangerous way.
    While I believe that we should consider first our own attitude toward dried vegetables and work out the best methods of using them for ourselves, we are warranted in believing, as conditions are at present in Europe, that there will be need of large quantities of all kinds of foods, including these dried vegetables, in those countries which are now famine-stricken. Although it is undoubtedly true that the German troops are using enormous quantities of dried vegetables, it is not demonstrated to what extent they will be employed in the feeding of our own boys. No civilian will take the attitude that the boys should be fed on food which he himself refuses to eat. If we learn to use them extensively, it is a practical certainty that our own armies will employ them extensively, as have the armies of Great Britain, France, and Germany.

    Inspired, therefore, as an emergency measure to meet war's demand for more complete utilization of the nation's food supply, the drying of garden products must continue. It must save summer crops for winter use and help to care for the needs of the nations which have been starving. It must take its place as a regulator in the world's problem of food supply and demand.
    "There seems to be no reason," says Mr. Sweet, of the United States Food Administration, in his communication to the National War Garden Commission, "why the abundance of one season or locality should not be made available by this means for periods of scarcity or for regions where fresh fruits and vegetables cannot be obtained. Every encouragement, therefore, should be given to home drying, in order that the people may become familiar with the excellence of the products which may be prepared by this method, and to save the vast quantities of excellent food which now go to waste for lack of adequate methods of conservation."

    The simple form of drying by artificial heat and by heat of the sun in thousands of American homes and in no less degree that science of dehydration as developed on a commercial scale, has shown its economic worth. The art as practiced to-day owes much to scientific research. This does not mean that the methods are complicated. Science has simplified them and given greater assurance of successful results. It has been estimated that the United States could save $19,000,000 annually in its transportation bills by the drying of its garden products. The saving of only a portion of this large sum would be worth while, and it would be not alone in the saving of money but in the release of much valuable freight-car space for other purposes that the nation would probably receive important benefit.
    Every victory gardener or home food producer in the United States can help to save part of this money and freight-space. It might not be just to ask them to do this if elaborate preparations and large outlay of money were necessary. As these are not required every person who has a vegetable plot should conserve some of the surplus product if it would otherwise go to waste. Practically all vegetables and fruits can be dried. The process is simple. The cost is slight. In every home the necessary outfit in its simplest form is already at hand. Effective drying may be done on plates or dishes place in the oven, with the oven door partly open. It may be done on the back of the kitchen stove with these same utensils while the oven is being used for baking. It may also be done on sheets of paper or lengths of muslin spread in the sun and protected from insects and dust.
    The earth lives by the light and heat of the sun. This beneficent power should be put to work by the victory gardeners of the United States, and thus will this country gain a rightful and legitimate "place in the sun." Luther Burbank, a member of the National War Garden Commission, says:

     How few people are aware of the scientific fact that all food and all clothing without any exception are first produced by the action of sunlight on the foliage of plants, and that but for the wonderful chemical engines installed in the foliage of plants no life could exist upon the earth; and only by the improvements which have been made in plants and animals which subsist on the productions of plants has our present civilization been made possible.

    This gift from Heaven which makes the plants to grow and without which there could be no production, should be utilized also in the conservation of food.

 

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