World War II wasn’t just about far-off battlefields. The home front was also important. With farming disrupted in much of the world, and with many farm workers joining the military, food became a huge issue.
On July 4, 1943, the Sunday Omaha World-Herald Magazine printed a special “Nebraska at War” edition. It included an ad sponsored by the Nebraska Seed Company of Ralston congratulating Nebraska “Victory Gardeners” for their patriotism and success. The Victory Garden program was part of a general government effort to encourage home food production and conservation. The ad included the text of an Associated Press article from the World-Herald of June 19, 1943, describing Victory gardeners as “Home Heroes”:
“Victory gardeners may prove to be the greatest heroes of the home front food war this summer, authorities said today after viewing early results.
“Indications that urbanites were harvesting successful crops of early vegetables and thus alleviating tight market conditions in metropolitan centers were verified here this week, department of agriculture officials said.
“‘For the first time in weeks,’ a department spokesman said, ‘We have had enough of everything to provide a good diet and demands on several vegetables have not been as heavy as last year. We trace this sudden improvement in market supplies to the fact that Victory gardeners are harvesting and eating their own early crops.’
“A survey by the war advertising council this week showed that 53 per cent of all city families planned victory gardens in May. Market men said movements in green onions, radishes, lettuce, spinach and a variety of greens had been comparatively slow, giving rise to the belief that home gardens this summer and fall would continue to supply vegetable needs in thousands of homes.
“Indications of a good potato production, with predictions of a nationwide 15 per cent increase in the commercial crop over the estimated 1942 total of 371,150,000 bushels were also evident.”
The idea was that if people raised some of their own food, they’d buy less, leaving more food to be shipped overseas to US troops and allies. As people harvested their gardens they enjoyed a double satisfaction: fresh, home-grown produce and the knowledge that they were doing their part to help the war effort.