The American diet was probably at its healthiest in the second world war. Fearing interruption to supply chains, Washington launched a national Victory Gardening programme within a fortnight of Pearl Harbor, and saw two thirds of the population heed the cry to fill their backyards, rooftops and window boxes with veg. The scheme was so successful that, by 1943, home-gardeners were producing 43 per cent of all fresh food consumed.
‘Dig for Victory’, the latest episode of Gastropod, a superbly researched food and science podcast, opens with the co-hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley rustling bags of manure as they attempt to plant tomatoes, peppers and ‘urbs’ in a tiny patch of earth in New York. The pandemic has seen a rush on garden centres on both sides of the Atlantic and revival of the Dig for Victory tag.