a1 Northwestern University
When World War II finally came to an end, the Allied forces were primed to face a world of hunger. Since the earliest days of the conflict, experts throughout Europe and Asia had been predicting that the unfathomable scale of the war would result in a massive and permanent restructuring of the global food economy. Military victory itself was cast as inextricably intertwined with control over foodstuffs. In 1940, the British nutritionist and future Director-General of the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization, Sir John Boyd-Orr, had warned that “we are only at the beginning of what looks like a long grim struggle, in which food may be, as it was in the last war, the decisive factor for victory.” Even more ominously, such experts foresaw the end of the war as ushering in a world defined less by peace and more by hunger. Australian economist and humanitarian Frank Lidgett McDougall axiomatically declared that “the exigencies of war and of the relief period will in the next few years render almost all men everywhere in the world highly food-conscious.” The recognition of the global ramifications of hunger meant that, as Nick Cullather put it in his recent article on the history of the calorie, “the construction of a postwar international order began with food.”
ALICE WEINREB is a visiting assistant professor at Northwestern University (Department of History, 1881 Sheridan Rd., Evanston IL, 60201; e-mail: email@example.com). This article is derived from her dissertation, “Matters of Taste: The Politics of Food and Hunger in Divided Germany.” She recently published an article in German Studies Review, “The Tastes of Home: Cooking the Lost Heimat in West Germany in the 1950s and 1960s,” and is currently completing her book manuscript Modern Hungers: Food, War, and Germany in the Twentieth Century.