Food is defense

Food is defense

You at cow" Do you use a sword for that? 


Our food programs are a national defense. Really. It’s true in the US. It’s true in Japan too. Here are two bits that make the case and one about cows.

Bit #1 • School lunch is a national defense

President Truman
Our national school lunch program was initiated after the WWII draft in part because of the numbers of potential GIs that were rejected for malnutrition. Really. Congress saw an opportunity to help farmers sell stuff and for schools to feed our kids and Truman signed the law in 1946.

“In the long view, no nation is any healthier than its children or more prosperous than its farmers; and in the National School Lunch Act, the Congress has contributed immeasurably both to the welfare of our farmers and the health of our children.” LINK

The program now serves something in the range of 30M students a day.

Bit #2 • Eating red meat is a national defense

Emperor Meiji of Japan
Some eighty years earlier, on January 24, 1873, Emperor Meiji of Japan ate a cow for the very first time. It was against buddhist and other religious teaching to eat red meat up to this point. And yet, in the face of US ships in their harbor, the Emperor decided to “beef up” the diets of the population and started eating red meat.

Thanks to the book “Sharp” from Josh Donald for introducing this story.

Bit #3 • Got a sword for that?

Japanese cow sword
When the first red meat was eaten in Japan it was not cut by a knife that was intended to cut red meat. The Japanese tend to craft their tools specifically to what they are doing. At that time they had not yet invented a knife for breaking down four legged animals like the Germans and the French had - the so called “chef’s knife.”

In the years that followed 1873 a knife was designed by Japanese knife manufacturers for red meat and named the Gyuto - or “cow sword.”

There you have it. Grow food. Make food. Eat it. Be strong and defend your country. The foundations of the school lunch program are in defense. Fascinating.

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