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Americans need to grow ‘Victory Gardens’ again

March 14, 2009
By KENNETH COBB, For The Inter-Mountain

On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese nation, without warning, attacked and bombed the American Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The United States declared war and President Franklin Roosevelt said there would be no peace until Japan unconditionally surrenders.

The American people quickly united and were willing to work together as a team. Everyone considered this era as a period of "National Emergency."

The federal government rationed foods such as butter, cheese, coffee, eggs, meat, milk, sugar and certain canned goods. A few other rationed items were gasoline, laundry detergent, shoes and silk stockings.

Labor and transportation shortages made it difficult to move the harvest of fruits and vegetables to market.

The government turned to all of the citizens to plant "Victory Gardens."

Several million Americans answered this call. They tilled the soil in back yards, side yards, front yards, empty lots, even rooftops. Groups of neighbors pooled their resources by planting different kinds of foods and working together as cooperatives.

During World War II, the "Victory Garden" became a symbol of individual and/or group patriotism. Practically everyone old enough to understand wanted to contribute something in the efforts to win this war.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the United States has been at war. This war on terrorism is nowhere to being over or won. Now I am not advocating that the United States needs to pull out of the Middle East. I think we should stay there until al-Qaida has unconditionally surrendered like Japan.

One of the ways to unite is to promote "Victory Gardens" again. I remember seeing a poster from World War II era showing a combat infantryman eating his K-rations. At the bottom of the poster, it read, "Grow some of your own food so he can have enough. Plant a Victory Garden."

Today there is need to plant "Victory Gardens" for other reasons.

Too many Americans face a different enemy not like the enemy soldiers from another nation.

This enemy is called malnutrition, which leads to disease. Yes, in this great land of plenty, too many Americans are undernourished because of the consumption of too much industrialized and junk foods.

We all know a serious economic crisis could be upon us in the next few months.

This would be a perfect situation for all people to learn how to grow a simple vegetable garden. During World War II, many people who lived in apartment buildings grew small vegetables in dozens of flowerpots.

A grassroots effort to promote "Victory Gardens" appears to be in the making.

There are "Victory Garden" websites and petitions calling for such gardens in all public places that include the White House lawn.

History is cyclical.

The strong economy of the 1980s and 1990s is weakening, and there are lessons to be learned by studying the past. This spring is a good time for everyone to plant a "Victory Garden."



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