With thousands of American troops now at the front in France on this date in 1918, food conservation had become critical. A new guide was issued which called for at least one wheatless meal each day except Monday when no wheat products were allowed.
Tuesday was a meatless day, and most days required at least one meal without meat. No pork products were allowed on Saturday. All sugar and fats were to be used sparingly, but potatoes and other vegetables were not restricted. Public eating houses were allowed to sell pies, doughnuts, cookies and other pastries on wheatless Monday as long as they contained one third wheat flour substitutes. This included corn meal, corn flour and corn starch, and products made from rice, barley, oats, soy beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes and buckwheat.
The responsibility to adhere to these regulations rested not only on the housewife, but also on the retailers. Dr. E. F. Ladd, the North Dakota food administrator, issued a warning to retailers that noncompliance could mean the loss of their retail license. Retailers were allowed to sell only twenty-four to forty-nine pounds of flour per family living in town. Families in the country were allowed forty-nine to ninety-eight pounds, and ranchers coming from a long distance could obtain a barrel of flour, but not to exceed a sixty-day supply. And, for each seven pounds of flour, three pounds of flour substitute were required to be sold.
Sugar was also heavily regulated. Home consumption was limited to three pounds per person per month, though purchasing a two-month supply was okay. Farmers and ranchers who traveled greater distances and may have farm and ranch hands to feed, could obtain even longer-lasting supplies in one trip – fifty to one hundred pounds.
Dr. Melvin Gilmore of the State Historical Society of North Dakota believed that self-reliance on resources long available in North Dakota could ease the burden of food conservation. Just as lignite coal has helped ease the coal shortage, if North Dakotans developed a taste for corn, which local Native tribes had used as a staple for centuries, it could reduce the need for wheat. Although the state was relatively treeless, large groves of boxelders were common. A relative of the sugar maple, boxelders could be used as a source of sugar, if tapped in the coming spring. Gilmore believed that by studying Native American customs, North Dakotans could become less dependent upon scarce commodities. It was their patriotic duty in a time of war.
Dakota Datebook by Jim Davis
The Valley City Times-Record, February 7, 1918
Bismarck Tribune, February 13, 1918
Fargo Forum, February 25, 1918