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Susan Green

Very Special Interest to Women

(16 June 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 24, 16 June 1941, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The welkin is ringing with loud-spoken advice to “diet for national defense.”

Free, gratis – and for nothing – you get information about food for which, before the “national emergency,” you had to pay a stiff fee to a good doctor familiar with the latest discoveries of biochemistry.

You must have your iron and calcium and so-and-so many international units of vitamins A, B, C and D. Especially must you have your vitamin B-1 – FOR MORALE.

These minerals and vitamins are supposed to make you SO TOUGH that the horrors and sufferings of modern warfare will roll off you like, water off a duck’s back.


All the food markets are very cooperative. Price signs bear notations as to the mineral or vitamin content of the articles. Thus, you, are informed, that tomatoes – at somewhere around 20 cents a pound, for those that have not been in storage for several years – are an excellent source of vitamins A and C. And beef liver – which has gone up from around 18 cents a pound to 29–33 cents – has practically all the vitamins needed.

A working class housewife could really give her family a beautifully balanced diet these days – except tor the small matter of prohibitive prices!

The German housewives were also well fortified with information on proper nutrition. They too could serve faultless meals except for war shortages and high prices!

Still the dietary information broadcast by Hitler has been far from wasted.

The Voelkischer Beobachter, official Nazi daily, recently advised housewives to get their vitamins the way the wild animals do. It urged them to spend Sundays with their children in the woods, gathering daisies and other wild plants – not to decorate their homes but TO EAT THEM: These wild flowers; it was suggested, have more vitamin C, more health-giving minerals and more nourishing salts, than most domestic vegetables. For soups, gravy and vegetable dishes, chickweed, nettles, dandelions, butterburs and caseweeds are highly recommended.

The United States government – which is following Hitler’s example in other matters – may also soon extol the virtues of the modest daisy. That voluptuous strumpet of a tomato – bah! – who wants it!

So you, see how grand it is to know all about diet!

War shortages and ballooning prices may put FOOD out, of your reach: But VITAMINS you can always get – by going native!

All you will have to worry about is the doctor’s bill. Your stomach may have an understandable preference for tomatoes.

Talking about prices and shortages, some figures pertaining to World War No. 1 are in order.

The very reliable economic journal knbown as The Annalist published a composite of the prices of various article representing the cost of living from January 1916 to January 1918. It revealed that there was almost a 100 per cent rise in the price index for those two war years.

The treasurer of one of the Middle West railroad lines; cataloguing his business for the same two years, reported that his road carried 331/3 per cent less goods representing the normal purchases of the people; and 331>/3 per cent more munitions and other war supplies. This was typical of the whole country.

This gives you, an idea, Mrs. Working Class Housewife, how scarce your normal needs became and how much they cost during the last war – which in comparison with this one is like a summer cottage alongside of the Empire State building!

Imagine, if you can, THE HARDSHIP IN STORE FOR YOU!

Of course, there is Mr. Leon Henderson, chairman of the Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply. He is supposed to put “ceilings” over prices. But his “ceilings” will not put a roof over your head!

Mr. Henderson’s fancy title doesn’t scare the war profiteers one bit. When he recently announced a “ceiling” over the prices of various kinds of cotton yarns, he was vilely attacked in debate in the Senate by representatives of the cotton kings. The mildest abuse he got was to be called a “socialist.” Senator Taft asserted he would put out of business entirely both Mr. Henderson and, his Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply, The senator said that the OPRCS was acting “without the shadow of any legal authority.”

It’s a sure bet that Mr. Henderson’s “ceilings” will have to have big holes in them – TO LET WAR PROFITS COME THROUGH ON THE WAY UP!

But you yourselves know that April prices all along the line were higher than March prices, and that May prices went above April prices.

Impartial investigators in this field predict that in the fall the cost of most ordinary commodities will be much higher. Men’s hats and suits, women’s handbags, cloth coats and cotton dresses, all shoes and underwear, blankets, sheets and furniture – this is a partial list!

Another way in which the working class housewife will be robbed is by the sale of inferior merchandise. Already there is on the market a new and bigger supply of poor quality goods in men’s shirts, women’s shoes, coats and gloves, upholstery and home appliances.

Industry run for private profit is very “accommodating.” You can’t pay the higher prices? Well, well! Here’s something within your price range, madam. But don’t complain if it falls apart, after the first tubbing and loses its shape in the first rain! The loss is all yours, my dear madam – the profit all the capitalist’s!

Labor Action stresses the tremendous importance for workers to demand wages to keep pace with the rising cost of living and not reduce them to the necessity of eating daisies and wearing shoddy. And the workers must not make up for low wages by working long hours that will make them old before their time.

Labor Action also urges the working class housewives to organize militant consumer’ committees through which to demand a steady flow of the things they must have, AT PRICES THEY CAN AFFORD. Such committees must be ready to boycott, picket, and do everything necessary to protect the standard of living of the working people.

Statistics show that among the poor the death rate rises along with the cost of living. No thank you!



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