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Supermarket USAFood and Power in the Cold War Farms Race$
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Shane Hamilton

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780300232691

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300232691.001.0001

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The Farms Race Begins

The Farms Race Begins

(p.43) 2 The Farms Race Begins
Supermarket USA

Shane Hamilton

Yale University Press

This chapter explains the conceptual outlines and historical roots of the Cold War Farms Race. Openly violent notions of the anticommunist power of American agriculture and food distribution emerged, making it possible to conceive of American supermarkets as not only products of “free enterprise” but also as “weapons” capable of demolishing communist claims to economic superiority over capitalism. The rhetorical militancy of the Farms Race did not emerge out of thin air during the Cold War, however. The three strands of the Farms Race—a pervasive rhetoric of exceptional American food abundance, a counterrevolutionary ideology of capitalist economic development, and a moral claim to the justifiability of U.S. economic might—emerged from decades of U.S. agricultural and food policies stretching back to the era of World War I. During and immediately after World War II, ideas about development, modernization, and feeding a hungry world merged into formal Cold War policies under Presidents Truman and Eisenhower. Disagreements about the appropriate role of private enterprise versus formal government action shaped the historical trajectories of such programs as Truman’s Point Four campaign and Eisenhower’s “trade not aid” agenda, but by the mid-1950s the Farms Race was in full swing.

Keywords:   Anticommunism, Cold War, Economic development, Agricultural policy, Trade policy, Harry S Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower

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