The Role of Home Economists

For the education and innovation required to convince Americans to change their diets, the government turned to the ranks of professional home economists. To provide American troops and European allies with desperately needed wheat, meat, fats and sugar, they taught the nation the basics of food substitution— replacing one food with another of equal nutritional value. One could substitute corn and rye, even peanut flour for wheat flour, beans, fish and cheese for meat, syrups and honey for sugar. Home economists also stressed the importance of increasing consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, which were too perishable to be shipped.

Toward this national effort, home economists working at both federal and state levels educated the public by creating hundreds of recipes and menus, wrote articles, books and pamphlets and traveled widely to demonstrate food conservation methods such as canning and drying.