6-115 Radio Speech on Food Conservation Program, October 5, 1947

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: October 5, 1947

Subject: Postwar

October 5, 1947
[New York, New York]

During this critical period in world affairs, food is a vital factor in our foreign policy. And the attitude of Americans toward food can make or break our efforts to achieve peace and security throughout the world. From this time on, at least until the end of winter, every man, woman, and child in this country will exert a direct personal influence on the course of international affairs. The connection between the individual American and world affairs is unmistakably clear—our foreign policy has entered the American home and taken a seat at the family table.

European economy might well break down under the intolerable strain of another winter of hunger, cold, and want. The reconstruction program worked out at Paris cannot get underway—in fact, the gains already made will be lost—if the nagging, elemental problem of how to feed a hungry family, how to warm a desolate room, dominates the thought and actions of the people of Europe. And the evil consequences of a European collapse would spread in ever-widening circles until we too would be seriously affected.

Food from America can prevent this chain of events. The American people can meet the shortage by an all-out, united effort to avoid waste of food and to economize in food consumption. We can tighten our belts—clean our plates—push ourselves away from the table.

We have been called on many times to give, and we have done so freely and with an almost lavish hand. Later, the motives for our generosity—a generosity without parallel in the history of mankind—have sometimes been criticized and even violently assailed. Yet I feel sure that the American people are great enough in spirit, generous enough in heart and purpose, to meet this present crisis in the typical American manner, which will go far to promote peace on earth and good will among men.

Let history record that in the coming winter, the vital contribution to the peace of the world was made in the American home.

GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers (Secretary of State, Speeches)

1. Marshall was the second of five speakers on a 10:30 p.m. radio broadcast over all the major networks urging Americans to conserve food in order to meet what President Truman called a “grim and forbidding” situation in Europe. Marshall was preceded by Secretary of Agriculture Clinton P. Anderson, and followed by Secretary of Commerce Averell Harriman; Charles Luckman, chairman of the President’s Citizens Food Committee; and President Truman, who urged listeners to use no meat on Tuesdays, no poultry or eggs on Thursdays, and to save a slice of bread every day. On the day of the program, the Soviet Union announced plans for a communist-directed international organization to fight the Marshall Plan, which reportedly “entered deeply into consideration” of the broadcast. (Washington Post, October 6, 1947, p. 1.)

Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Mark A. Stoler, Sharon Ritenour Stevens and Daniel D. Holt (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 2013- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 6, “The Whole World Hangs in the Balance,” January 8, 1947-September 30, 1949 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), pp. 221-222.