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May 2002

Hogs Wild

Pigs carved from lard sing their own praises in a display at the International Livestock Show in Chicago in 1942. First published in an April 1943 story about wartime agriculture, “Farmers Keep Them Eating,” the photo underlined a looming concern: slim supplies of fat.

Author Frederick Simpich predicted a “fat famine,” citing a call by the United States Department of Agriculture for more fat-supplying foods to fill the demands of World War II troops, lend-lease agricultural aid to allies, and Americans’ own appetites. “Day and night rises the cry for more lard and pork, louder and louder,” he wrote.

At the time Simpich’s story was published the average American ate 52 pounds (24 kilograms) of animal and vegetable fat a year. Nowadays the annual total is closer to 60 pounds (27 kilograms).

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Photograph by J.C. Allen & Son