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Roots of the Local Food Movement

Photo essay: The locavore movement may seem like a fad to some, but these wartime posters show that equating local food and security has deep roots in U.S. history.

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Canning Girl

"A Victory Garden is like a share in an airplane factory. It helps win the war and pays dividends too."
          – Claude R. Wickard, Secretary of Agriculture

The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that 20 million Americans rose to the call for patriotism and planted a victory garden during World War II. 

Canning, home gardening, and vegetarianism have once again become political actions. Just as Eleanor Roosevelt encouraged victory gardens by planting one at the White House, the Obamas have helped to restart the home gardening trend by planting the first White House vegetable garden since the Roosevelts'.

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Of course, the locavore movement emphasizes local food security for different reasons than wartime propaganda campaigns did: a changing climate, an end to cheap oil, and a difficult economy, rather than the need to feed and maintain armies.

Still, the parallels are striking: Americans are eating locally not just to develop the resiliency and self-sufficiency of their communities, but to do their part in a larger struggle—this time, the global climate crisis.

To view the photo essay, click here.


Poster images courtesy of the Collection of National Agricultural Library and an exhibit created by Cory Bernat and Good-Potato.com. Visit the website for more information.

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