Making food supplies last was only one challenge. The Food Administration compelled larger farms to produce staple products including wheat, corn, and beef that would be fairly distributed among Americans (through rationing) and sent abroad to allied citizens and both U.S. and allied soldiers. The newly created National War Garden Commission urged Americans to “put slacker land to work” and become “soldiers of the soil” by raising much needed fruits, vegetables, and poultry from their own gardens to put on the table in place of the meat and wheat products that were in short supply. Although most commonly associated with World War II, the home-grown food produced in victory gardens significantly eased the burdens of rationing.


 On behalf of the U.S. Food Administration and the War Garden Commission, the Government Printing Office published and distributed millions of free pamphlets extolling the patriotic virtues of food conservation and thrift, educating farmers and housewives about the crops they needed to raise, effective methods of food production and preservation, and the benefits their efforts had on the war raging abroad. Over 10 million copies of government-produced posters tied food-related efforts to action on the front with slogans such as “Food is Ammunition,” “Every Garden a Munitions Plant,” “Can the Kaiser,” and by picturing soldiers in the field alongside men and women in their kitchens and gardens. Ubiquitously displayed posters successfully reminded Americans of their voluntary efforts and cajoled them to participate as members of the home front army. Ultimately, with over 5 million victory gardens planted and an increased reliance on new methods of food production and preservation by individual farmers and families, efforts at food conservation affected the everyday lives of almost every American during World War I.