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Victory Gardens Were More About Solidarity Than Survival

The New York Times Magazine – In the latest article from “Beyond the World War II We Know,” a series from The Times that documents lesser-known stories from World War II, we recount the history of victory gardens and some of the misconceptions of how they emerged after the United States joined the conflict. Of all the celebrated nostalgic markers of World War II, few are as memorable as America’s victory gardens — those open lots, rooftops and backyards made resplendent with beets, broccoli, kohlrabi, parsnips and spinach to substitute for the commercial crops diverted to troops overseas during the war. The gardens were strongly encouraged by the American government during World War I as part of the at-home efforts, yet they became immensely more popular with the introduction of food rationing during the Second World War as processed and canned foods were shipped abroad. It’s often said that this later era of victory gardens emerged out of grass-roots collective action to prevent the risk of running out of food, which was already hurting countries all over Europe. Despite the millions of pounds of food being diverted from American kitchen tables for the war effort, there was little threat of citizens going hungry. Rather, the victory-garden movement was driven much more by government and corporate messaging meant to invoke American solidarity…”

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