‘The Kitchen is the Key to Victory’: Women, Food and the Great War
PAPER delivered by Professor Karen Hunt of the University of Keele, at the Home, Food & Family Conference, 5 March 2016
The First World War saw new kinds of warfare on an unprecedented scale. One of its novel features was that food was used as a weapon of war against civilian populations of entire countries.
In everyday Britain, this meant a cost of living crisis as prices rocketed, with food shortages, unequal distribution of food and fuel and long food queues. This particularly affected women as they had the principal responsibility in most households for translating the family’s income into meals on the table.
This talk takes the famous First World War poster that urged ‘The Kitchen is the Key to Victory’ and explores the different ways in which women on the home front responded to this escalating crisis. Local examples will be used to show how diverse experiences were across the country and the extent to which the food crisis not only challenged but also empowered some women.