SAVE FOOD, SHARE FOOD, DO YOUR PART: Wartime Posters With Relevant Reminders
Coronavirus continues to force us all to readjust our lives, re-evaluate our priorities, and consider the collective good as opposed to our individual wants and needs (hopefully, not for the first time, but...)
Times are tough and uncertain, and even a little scary. (Especially financially and economically.) We're facing a worst-case scenario not just with the situation at hand, but also with the so-called "leaders" that are meant to guide us through it.
What makes this situation especially hard isn't necessarily the lack of a certain "end date," but rather, due to the nature of the virus, the reality that we can't hug, kiss, or hold our loved ones as much as we'd like. Many of us are in isolation or live alone, and therefore can't see those we care about face-to-face. While we're all certainly grateful for the screens, video calls and live streams don't quite replace the real thing.
Unfortunately, I've seen many people in my city, on the news, and around my neighborhood who still don't seem to get it. The pragmatic, "The faster we all take these kinds of precautions, the faster we'll be able to go back to living life as we know it" line doesn't seem to get through to them.
Many are hoarding food, medicine, masks, toilet paper, (I still don't get this one) and anything else they can find. They don't need these things now -- they're just afraid that one day, they might need it.
There's certainly nothing wrong with some practical preparation. I have a small stock of food and supplies, and one reusable mask that I wash daily. I even have some gloves. To not prepare at all would be stupid -- but some have clearly taken this to the extreme.
It points out just how harmful drastic economic disparity like we have in this country -- and especially in New York City -- really is. Seeing people flee to their "country homes" or clear out grocery shelves they can afford to (knowing all the while that they'll probably end up throwing much of what they've purchases away, as it will go bad before they can use it) it deeply upsetting.
For many, it's much more than that.
The good news is that, for all those bad apples, there are people out there doing the right thing. It's been amazing to see so many people in the vintage community with sewing skills and machines making masks (see this tutorial) that have been approved and asked for by our medical professionals.
I've seen canned goods set out on the streets in my neighborhood for the homeless.
While it's pretty devastating to see the public be held responsible for things the government really should be doing, (like, you know, feeding people and ensuring they won't lose their apartments) it has restored my faith in New York a bit.
No one can see it from behind my face mask, but I'm definitely smiling at those around me -- from a distance of six feet or more, of course.
To remind us all of how we should behave, I've gathered some images of wartime posters, all publically available in the Library of Congress' archives.
I do want to stress that what we're dealing with now cannot and does not compare to what people across the world went through in war.
We're not being drafted, we're not being forced to kill people ourselves, we're not being torn away from our families, and we're not facing the onslaught of fascism (well...) We have the Internet, electricity, food available for purchase, and so much more.
People have been making these comparisons a lot, and while I understand where it comes from, and agree that the sentiment of fear and the unknown is similar, that's not what I intend to do here. (Though I suppose, in some way, I am.) I find those comparisons misguided at best.
I do think these posters are a valuable reminder of our responsibility to act for the good of many, not not the good of a few. They also serve to remind us that we actually have been able to come together as a country and not be completely pricks and idiots in the past -- and thank god we did, because imagine the alternative.
Take a look at these posters, share if you like, and consider if you really need that fifth bag of flour or 900th roll of toilet paper. Consider what you could do, no matter how large or small, to help out others right now.
This World War One poster reads in Yiddish, "Food will win the war ! You came here seeking freedom, now you must help to preserve it. Wheat is needed for the allies - waste nothing." It was created by the United States Food Administration.
Another World War One poster, this time urging Canadians not to panic shop -- or face three months in prison, as the poster on the wall warns. Made by the Canada Food Board.
I've definitely thought about getting into preserving food for many years now -- maybe this poster is the push I need. Check this page out for some basic pickling/preserving tips. Another WWI poster from the Canada Food Board.
It's been amazing to see so many people in the vintage community and beyond come together to share tips on how to sew hospital-approved, actually effective masks for our healthcare workers. This is a WWII poster is from NYC's WPA and was created sometime between 1941-1943.
A 1917 poster urging food conservation.
1917 poster from the US Food Administration.
Eat Less -- Good advice that I'm struggling to follow all the time, not just now...1918 US Food Administration poster.
CORN! Lots of friends have been messaging me about it, and it seems that CANNED CORN is the food of choice right now. Look at everything you can do with it, as this 1918 poster reminds us.
Now is the time to share.
A huge thank you to our incredible nurses.
A 1943 poster calling for more to enroll in the Red Cross Volunteer Nurse's Aid program.
Do you grow any of your own food, no matter how much or how little (I'll even count your herb garden.) This post on urban gardening offers tips on how to grow your own veggies in a place like Manhattan.