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Food Conservation in North Carolina:
Electronic Edition.

Winters, S. R. (Sellie Robert), b. 1888

Funding from the State Library of North Carolina
supported the electronic publication of this title.

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First edition, 2002
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Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,

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Source Description:
(title page) Food Conservation in North Carolina
Winters, S. R. (Sellie Robert), b. 1888
p. 504-506, ill.
New York:
Review of Reviews Co.
Call number Cp970.9 W781f (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Detached from American Review of Reviews. Vol. 56, no. 5 (Nov 1917)

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Page 504





        THE county health officer who wrote the North Carolina Food Conservation Commission that the diversification campaign and war-production drive had lessened the death rate of both adults and children is at least credited with voicing the ardor of a production and conservation program that added $75,000,000 in food - crop wealth to the State. He was emphasizing the tonic qualities of a varied diet of fresh vegetables, while conservation agencies in the same county were checking Northern labor migration by placing 1000 laborers on farms through an employment bureau.


(Executive Secretary of the North Carolina Food Conservation Commission)

        The incidents alike suggest the scope and effectiveness of the four months' campaign of the North Carolina Food Conservation Commission in reshaping a State wedded to cotton and tobacco. It was a stroke to square a deficit of $80,000,000 annually spent for food and foodstuffs from the Middle West. The task was one of gigantic caliber, and happily the Governor of the State threw the weight of his personality and office into the "feed-yourself" campaign. Even before the declaration of war, Governor T. W. Bickett had issued a war-garden proclamation. This came in March. But tallying to the classification of an "Agricultural Governor," he quickly grasped the economic law that production is but a simple operation when compared with the intricacies of Southern marketing problems.

        The centralized conservation agency was duly organized, and bearing the charter-seal of the State, empowered to act on April 17. The Governor headed the commission. John Paul Lucas, ex-newspaper man, farmer-real-estate-dealer, and president of the North Carolina Farmers' Convention, was designated full-time executive secretary. Other members of the commission were: State Commissioner of Agriculture, president of North Carolina Agricultural and Engineering College, director of the State Experiment Stations, president of State Farmers' Union, and State Demonstration Agent.

        Crops had begun to sprout when the executive secretary assumed active direction and initiated plans to switch farmers from an all-cotton crop; insure a liberal use of commercial fertilizers, and guarantee a well-tilled soil and an increased acreage adaptable to food crops.

        Trained in the art of publicity as newspaper reporter, the whole-time secretary instantly sought the coöperation of the State

Page 505


(More than 1,000 pounds of cabbage were put up by these women in three ways--kraut in light salt; kraut in heavy salt, and cabbage in brine, or pickled cabbage)

press. Three days after perfecting the organization a letter was dispatched to sixty daily and weekly newspapers and a syndicated service supplied readable copy to as many more. Plans and purposes were outlined with the admonition, "Grow your own food and feed crops or go hungry!"

        Coöperative efforts of 7000 school districts, 85 boards of trade, 3000 bankers, mayors, ministers, county agents, and organized farmers were importuned to establish fair and adequate markets. These trade arteries were to invite an equitable distribution of $12,000,000 war-garden expansion. To establish adequate markets in trading centers of 100 counties was the ultimate aim of the commission, as expressed by Secretary Lucas to various food commissions.

        Director B. W. Kilgore, of the Agricultural Extension Service, addressed personal appeals to 3000 bankers and merchants, stressing the significance of adequate markets. He analyzed the big essentials thus:

        (1) A disposition to give the farmer a square deal, to give him preference over the farmers of the Central West; (2) warehouse space and equipment for shelling corn, grading and cleaning corn, wheat, oats, beans, peas, and other products. He urged the merchants to provide shellers and graders. Merchants had heretofore excused themselves from developing a market by blaming the farmer for not shelling his corn or properly grading his product. The farmer, however, with only a surplus of probably from 200 to 300 bushels could not afford to purchase shellers or graders.

        The North Carolina Food Conservation Commission uncovered 11,000 idle acres on farms of county homes (poor-houses). Here, as elsewhere, the marketing problem was found to be local, with the production end lagging in this instance. Boards of county commissioners were written spirited appeals: "Certainly no county home should ask the taxpayers to buy corn, meal, sweet or Irish potatoes, beans or other crops, that are adaptable to their section of the State." Consequently, road-convict forces were transferred to these hitherto unproductive acres. The response was generous, and at least one county home was reported self-sustaining.

        Christianity essentially incorporates the qualities of patriot and fine citizen. So ministers were enlisted for the war-production drive, and the pastor was cautioned, "The bread and meat that your wealthy parishioner wastes now may cause your less fortunate parishioner to want a few months hence." The preacher was requested to exhort from the pulpit the propaganda--reduction of cotton acreage; increased acreage to food and foodstuffs, and a maximum production per acre by careful tillage and generous fertilization.

        Labor and work-stock--their sparsity--were conditions partially blamed for an $80,000,000 deficit in food and feed crops. Mayors in every town were urged to enforce vagrancy laws, thus routing idle labor to agricultural regions. Work-stock engaged in municipal enterprises were temporarily withdrawn and put to productive uses in cultivating waste lands.

        What are the definite achievements of the commission in transforming an $80,000,000 food deficit into an economic reserve for other export channels? To what extent has North Carolina ceased to draw upon the surplus food products now available for European markets, possibly? The commission briefly compiles this answer:

Page 506


(During the month of July this bureau, conducted by the Colored Food Commission, found employment for 879 colored persons)

        Whereas, 25,000,000 bushels of corn were imported in 1916, little, if any, will be shipped into the State this season. There will be 100,000,000 pounds of pork available for other export channels because of the stimulus to swine production. The hitherto enormous importation of canned goods will be less than 20 per cent. the quantity of previous years. Wheat and other products were conserved to a corresponding degree.

        Responding to an editorial in the foremost State newspaper, challenging the Governor, "What Is Being Done?", the food commission replied:

        The conservation through canning, drying and brining of every pound of surplus from gardens and truck patches; the substitution of vegetables and other products not suitable for export for wheat, pork and beef products; and the establishment in every trading center of the State adequate and fair markets for staple food and feed crops.

        The canning and drying of practically all the surplus from the increased number of garden and truck patches, and the conservation through brining of thousands of pounds of cabbage and greens. Three million cans were used for canning vegetables and fruits. This takes no count of hundreds of thousands of cans filled by housewives outside the influence of the Home Demonstration Service.

        The plan of organization embraced a subcommission in each county of the State. The personnel included the chairman of the board of county commissioners, superintendent of education, farm and home demonstration agents, representative of the Farmers' Union, and two or three business men. The work of the county unit continues.

        Conservation workers of New Hanover county visited every home; located 1000 laborers on farms, and packed in barrels and kegs thousands of pounds of cabbage.

        The magnitude of the efforts of the North Carolina commission is suggested in these figures: Mailed from central office 21,000 pieces of literature on food conservation; 168 newspapers were supplied letters, periodically; 7000 school districts felt the quickening pulse of the vital propaganda; and 12,000 conferences and meetings held. Untried agencies sprung up in the wake of the educational and publicity campaign--tobacco barns as community evaporators; home evaporators built; school children planted hundreds of gardens, and vegetable and fruit preservation was enhanced 100 per cent. over the preceding season.