Food Rules, a History

A little less than a decade or so ago in an antique shop I stumbled across an old post card-sized print tucked inside the border of an old, oval mirror. It was a 4×6 card that read,


  1. Buy it with thought.
  2. Cook it with care.
  3. Use less meat and wheat.
  4. Buy local foods.
  5. Serve just enough.
  6. Use what’s left.

Don’t waste it.

I took a picture of the stained card with my phone, why I didn’t buy the little thing I cannot recall. A few years passed and there I saw a similar print on Etsy when looking for a vintage botanical print for our bathroom, something I ended up finding at the thrift store go figure.  It was a replica of the small post card that caught my eye, only bigger with less stains. I found a size I liked, deciding on a rather large copy to grace the walls of our dining room, with a simple black frame at IKEA that made the words stand out just so.

History aside, it’s a beautiful addition to our home. And for those interested in the back story of this piece, it is a American food poster from World War I and II. It was printed by the WPA (Works Progress Administration) encouraging behavior modification concerning food, specifically how we purchase, cook it, and consume it. The original posters date back to 1917, exactly one hundred years ago, yet I feel that our family strives follow the same sort of rules in how we feed ourselves and care for food. These seven ideals were printed to promote healthier living, highlighting ways to maintain and serve the national good during a time of great need. I really like the simple, to-the-point message it conveys, while adding a bit of art history to our walls.

Just imagine if we all took just a few of these wholesome values to heart, what good it could do for our families and our communities? Andrew and I are working on being less wasteful and more mindful about what we use on a daily basis, and this poster is a source of continued rootedness and encouragement for us.


  • Here two articles about the food posters Here and Here if you want to read more.
  • If you are looking to find a WPA food poster like ours, Here is a site with many sizes to choose from.



  • Flora - Oh wow! That Etsy print is perfect. My mum’s a keen cook and I know she’d love it in her home, and I’d really like one too… I think I’ll read the two articles you’ve linked to and then maybe even buy a print for my mum & I.

    What good luck it was that you found a bigger version of it than your phone picture!

    I like the message of it – it goes to show that the oldest, simplest advice is still the best, doesn’t it? I think the diet industry could learn a thing or two…


  • Brandy - What a lovely, motivating poster. Thank you for the links, too! My family has been watching Wartime Kitchen and Garden and many of these sentiments are echoed there. We live in town and have always tried to make the most of our yard–it seems absurd to have a big luxurious lawn that does nothing for you. I love that candle holder in the background, by the way. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Tidy Home Tips & Tidbits No. 3 | Toy Rules » Homesong - […] have a “Food Rules” poster in our kitchen that I love. It’s beautiful, practical, simple, and true. It used to live in […]ReplyCancel

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