Feast Your Eyes: Today’s Storage is Tomorrow’s Dinner

Today’s Storage is Tomorrow’s Dinner. These words, plastered across a photo of a wide array of fresh and canned fruits and vegetables, opened a 1942 filmstrip created by the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). (If you never had the pleasure of watching educational filmstrips in school, here’s a quick explanation!)

Today's storage is tomorrow's dinner. Photo by Marion Post Wolcott, Nov. 1940. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8e06545

Today’s storage is tomorrow’s dinner. Photo by Marion Post Wolcott, Nov. 1940. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8e06545

Drawing from the vast collection of photographs being created for the Farm Security Administration, the USDA created filmstrips to educate the public about many topics related to agriculture. The narrative accompanying Today’s Storage is Tomorrow’s Dinner explains: “Every farm family should have plenty of good food every day in the year. The less cash, the more important it is to produce at home as much food as possible. The purpose of this film is to suggest ways of keeping home-grown food for future use.”

The lessons of this filmstrip hold true today, and the images do a wonderful job of instructing and entertaining. Enjoy a sample below, interspersed with some of the words which would be spoken over each photo in the filmstrip:

“How would you like to be invited to dinner with this family? … A well-balanced meal supplied from the farm.”

How would you like to be invited to dinner with this family? Photo by John Collier, Jan. 1942. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8e06552

How would you like to be invited to dinner with this family? Photo by John Collier, Jan. 1942. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8e06552

“If these sagging shelves should break — you can almost hear the crash! This important part of the winter’s food supply would be lost. And these shelves are so narrow that the jars could be knocked off easily.  The jars will collect dust and they get too much light. A poor storage place!”

If these sagging shelves should break--you can almost hear the crash! Photo by Marion Post Wolcott, April 1939. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8e06562

If these sagging shelves should break–you can almost hear the crash! Photo by Marion Post Wolcott, April 1939. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8e06562

“Nothing wrong with these shelves. Shelves like these may be built in a well ventilated cellar, cave, or closet where it is cool…and where there is no strong light. They are wide enough, they are built of strong boards…”

Nothing wrong with these shelves.Photo by John Vachon, Sept. 1939. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8e06563

Nothing wrong with these shelves.Photo by John Vachon, Sept. 1939. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8e06563

Since the filmstrip was created in 1942, with the United States in the thick of World War II, a wartime message is captured in this photo and its accompanying caption:

“You can do your part by growing and storing your own food and raising a surplus to sell. Ask your farm and home supervisors how you can do the most – in your own home and on your own farm – to help win the war.”

You can do your part by growing and storing your own food and raising a surplus to sell. Photo by Russell Lee, Aug. 1940. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8e06565

You can do your part by growing and storing your own food and raising a surplus to sell. Photo by Russell Lee, Aug. 1940. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8e06565

Keeping good milk good. Sept. 1942. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8e04430 (Head cropped from <a href="http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa1998000841/PP/?loclr=blogpic">Dairy cow at Casa Grande Valley Farms. Photo by Russell Lee, April 1940.</a>)

Keeping good milk good. Sept. 1942. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8e04430 (Head cropped from Dairy cow at Casa Grande Valley Farms. Photo by Russell Lee, April 1940.)

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One Comment

  1. Bob Mosteller
    January 27, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    I grew up in the 30′s and 40′s. I can remember our back room looking like that with lots of jars of fruit and vegetables.
    some 78 years ago.

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