Celebrating Frugality

Saving old bread crumbs used to be a patriotic act

This page was published 13 years ago. Find the latest on Earthjustice’s work.

As we get ready to gas up our grills in a final hoorah to summer this Labor Day, an exhibition highlighting war-era food posters at the National Agriculture Library reminds us that simple acts like growing our own food and conserving food supplies for those in need were once thought of as our patriotic duty, rather than small steps towards a socialist agenda.

During both world wars, the government asked people to use food efficiently so that there was more meat and potatoes left over for our soldiers to eat. Patriotic citizens responded in droves by planting victory gardens…

eating less meat by getting their protein from other sources….

or even turning in used fats to make parachutes, medicines and munitions.

People also were heavily discouraged from wasting food, which meant anything from letting food spoil to failing to clean your plate.

One poster even encouraged farmers to avoid careless management of their operation so that they wouldn’t waste food, a piece of advice that brings to mind the countless number of eggs likely tossed as a result of the latest salmonella outbreak.

Kids could also help out the war effort by joining a sheep club to help provide textiles for soldiers’ clothing (though we’re not exactly sure what a summer at a sheep club entails)…

More than a half century later, there is a renewed need to conserve. But this time it’s not food we should covet, but energy.

Being more energy efficient is the cleanest and cheapest way to achieve energy independence—a concept that every patriot can get behind. That’s why Earthjustice is pushing the Dept. of Energy to adopt stricter energy standards for more than a dozen categories of home and commercial appliances, like that refrigerator in your home that’s currently housing all those hot dogs. Saving energy so we’re not importing it from other countries – what could be more patriotic?

Jessica is a former award-winning journalist. She enjoys wild places and dispensing justice, so she considers her job here to be a pretty amazing fit.