1919 Advice About Substituting Foods in U.S. to Help Needy Children Abroad

Source: Public Domain Wikimedia – Imperial War Museums.

So many people around the world today are food insecure. A hundred-years ago people also often lacked sufficient food. Here is some advice in the January, 1919 issue of American Cookery magazine. World War I had just ended two months prior the publication of this magazine, and food was still in short supply in Europe.

The Needs Abroad 

Fats, including butter and milk, are short the world over. Butter and milk are necessary to child life. The dairy herds have been terribly depleted throughout Europe. Eighty thousand more children died last year in France than the year before.

To help restore these herds we must ship cereals to feed them. Use more potatoes, and less than normal of bread or cereals.

Butter in England is $2 a pound. Eggs are $2.25 a dozen. Milk is impossible to get in many places.

Let us help all we can!

33 thoughts on “1919 Advice About Substituting Foods in U.S. to Help Needy Children Abroad

    1. I’m guessing that they kept it on ice in warm weather, and only shipped it relatively short distances. It would have spoiled much more quickly back then.

      1. Indeed it was ice, at least locally.

        Refrigeration actually came in for long distances in the 19th Century, although in a more primitive form. It’s what gave rise to the beef cattle industry and to large breweries, oddly enough, as refrigerated rail cars came in mid 19th Century.

        Locally it was ice, however. Well into the 20th Century. My family had a creamery in the 1940s and lost a big batch of milk when a local ice plant went down in that period.

        1. Wow, I hadn’t realized how early refrigeration came in for transportation over long distances.

          I bet your parents were really upset when a big batch of milk was lost. That would have represented a lot of lost income. I grew up on a dairy farm and know how stressed my father always was when there was a snow storm, and there was a risk that some milk would need to be dumped if the milk truck couldn’t get in the lane to pick it up.

  1. My husband’s aunt and some of her friends went to the United Kingdom to work (as teachers) a few years after the end of WWII. They made sure their bags were full of tinned foods. Made them very popular.

    1. There was so much damage and destruction during that was. It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like for them. Until I read your comment, I hadn’t realized that some teachers from the U.S. went to the UK after the war.

  2. How does cereal give them the necessary fat in their diet? That was a bit of a non sequitur, I think. But nice that they were thinking of Europe right after WWI.

    1. There are a lot of connections that need to be made to get from “cereals” to “fats”. I occasionally hear the term “cereal grain”. I think that the author is referring to wheat, barley, corn, etc. as cereals. These grains are fed to dairy cows who produce milk which contains fat.

  3. Nice post! I love baking bread, and for a while I made sourdough bread for my daddy once a week. He was so gracious about it, but after about a year he confided that as a child during the 1920’s they regularly had sour milk, and he would be very happy if he never had sourdough bread for the rest of his days! Too funny. This might explain why he had no desire to use the fireplace either. Can’t say I blame him!

    1. What a fun story! It’s so true that the things that we are nostalgic about now, actually can represent hardship to the people who lived through those days.

  4. This is a very sobering tidbit from the past. Translating $2.25 for a dozen eggs into today’s dollars, those eggs would be almost $33!! In our world today of ubiquitous food, the hunger and desperation can’t even be imagined.

    1. Whew, $33 in today’s dollars is a lot. Your comment makes me realize how much inflation there has been across the years. A dollar is worth a lot less now than what it was a hundred years ago.

      1. It certainly has. I was so surprised by the number, I actually tried a couple of different calculators suggested by a google search. They were all within the same ballpark. Very sobering.

        Twenty-five years later it would be my own mother starving in the 1945 “Winter Hunger” in Holland just before the liberation by the Allies. There was simply no food at any price. Today we cannot imagine …

        1. Whew, it must have been rough for your mother. Your comment really personalized how difficult it was for families during WWI and WWII. Food is so bountiful today, and this really makes me think about how fortunate we are.

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