A potato less day

Hertfordshire Mercury, 7th April 1917

Transcript

“Many families in Hertford involuntarily observed last Sunday as a potatoless day. Trying to buy potatoes on Saturday was almost like looking for the truth in the German official communiqués. There were none to be had anywhere in the morning. Later in the day a few tons were unloaded at the market, and there was an immediate rush for the stalls, but the police kept order by forming up the waiting women and children into a queue and limited quantity. Even under these conditions there was not nearly enough to go round. During the short time that supplies were available all sorts of subterfuges were resorted to in order to get a share of them.

Mothers with large families, it was found, were sending their numerous progeny each on a separate potato hunting expedition around the stalls and shops, and in this way some families got more than their share, whilst others got none at all. A shop keeper was about to empty a pound of potatoes into a diminutive customer’s bag when she noticed that it already contained two or three pounds that had been purchased elsewhere ! In view of the fact that dealers have to pay such a price for potatoes as to leave no margin of profit, they are deserving of sympathy in their present difficulties. Unfortunately what they more often receive is abuse.” The report goes on at length to say that the shortage of potatoes was not due to local supplies being exhausted. There were many fields in Hertford and Ware showing clamp after clamp of potatoes in good condition. The problem was that the growers would not supply the potatoes to the retailers at the normal price and were demanding a £1 a ton above the current price. The paper demanded that this situation should be looked at in detail by the Government as this action by growers was affecting the availability of food for the people at a time of great national stress

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