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Everybody’s talking about food by Jennifer Doyle

PAPER delivered by Jennifer Doyle, of Kings College, University of London, at the Home, Food & Family Conference, 5 March 2016

This paper presents an overview of the methods employed by contemporary print media to encourage women to engage with the war. Jennifer analyses the homogenised picture of the Home Front drawn by the media, and using the medium of food, shows how food economy and dietary sacrifice were equated with national safety.

On 15 June 1917, several days after a particularly devastating U-Boat campaign on British shipping, disrupting food imports, a deputation of the newspaper trade complained to a meeting a the Treasury, that the Government was not utilising the medium of women’s magazines in the dissemination of advice and information about food.

This particular reference shows how contemporaries view women’s magazines as a source of mass information distribution.  For a significant portion of British women, household and childcare responsibilities prevented them from engaging with the war in a paid capacity, such as working in factories, the land or the many new roles made available by the conditions of war. Women who remained out of the paid workforce/war effort, were asked to think of the Home as a War Front, and were encouraged to view the Kitchen as their theatre of war.

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