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Victory Gardens Handbook page 5


Gardening e-book:
War Gardens, Victory Gardens




Warren B. Mack,1 Executive Secretary, Advisory Victory Garden Committee,
War Services, Pennsylvania State Council of Defense

  Americans in 1943 produced more than 24 million tons of vegetables for sale, including potatoes, in market gardens and on farms, and an estimated eight million tons of vegetables for family use, in home gardens. Commercial production, though a very little less than in 1942, was greater than in any season before the outbreak of the war; the yields from Victory Gardens raised the total vegetable supply of the American people far above any previous record. The home production of vegetables for family use probably was 50 per cent. above that in any previous season, except possibly in 1919, the first year after World War I.

  This accomplishment in food production, in spite of unfavorable weather in several important areas, and of loss of experienced workers from farms, has improved the national morale greatly. It has convinced most people that no threat exists of a serious reduction in the nation's civilian food supply. Many are optimistic that it is possible to improve still further the nutrition of our population, in the face of war's demands for food, material, and labor.

  Public officials share in this optimism. "The splendid job done by housewives last summer in home canning," stated one federal administrator in a recent press release, "enabled OPA to take certain items off the ration list last month. If this work continues and the canners do not get the `peace jitters,' thereby cutting down their production, the possibility of taking processed foods off rationing by next fall is good."

No Grounds for Complacency

  Even if our citizens do not relax in their home and commercial food production, however, we are not justified in becoming complacent about our accomplishments. It is not enough to boast that we are the best fed nation on earth. Such a comparison serves no good purpose; with Belgium, Greece, China, India, and Poland standing to lose from one-fifth to one-half of their entire populations during the course of the war from starvation or disease consequent on malnutrition, the base of reference is so low as to make it meaningless. We must judge our need for greater production from the extent to which we can improve our own nutrition through greater and more varied supplies of foods which we can produce.

  Americans never have consumed enough vegetables and fruits for their best nutrition. Even at its greatest, the vegetable supply of our civilian population was not more than half of the amount needed to supply adequate quantities of the nutrients—minerals and vitamins for which these foods are distinguished, as judged from present recommendations.

1 Head of Horticulture Department, The Pennsylvania State College


cover of Victory Gardens Handbook of the Victory Garden Committee
click for larger photo

Victory Gardens
Handbook of the
Victory Garden Committee
War Services, Pennsylvania
State Council of Defense

April, 1944


page v
page vi
page vii