29 MARCH 1940, Page 3

Feeding the People

In an article on another page Mr. Seebohm Rowntree reviews a book that is of immediate importance—Feeding the People in War-time, by Sir John Orr and David Lubbock. Its importance is immediate because if this country is to concentrate on producing the right kinds of food in time to be of use this year the Ministry of Agriculture and the farmers must take action within the next few weeks. Since the under-nourishment of 3o per cent. of the popula- tion seriously affects the efficiency of the country for all the purposes of war, the authors maintain that it ought to be a matter of policy to make the protective foods as well as the energy-providing foods available to all at prices they can afford to pay. The people will consume the nourishing foods in sufficient quantities if they are offered at low enough prices, and the farmers will produce them if they are guaranteed a high enough price. The satisfaction of these two conditions clearly pre-supposes a substantial sub- sidy, which might come to Lioo millions a year. Would it be worth it—to secure an efficient population, with all the saving that implies in respect of health-treatment, poor work, and low morale? There can be no serious doubt about it. Expenditure of this kind would be productive in every sense of the term.