FOOD: Belly Americans

The U.S. had promised a lot—and performed miserably. In cold statistics it read like this: America, the richest and best-fed nation in the world, was 12,000,000 bushels of wheat short of its commitments to starving Europe, and little wheat was moving off U.S. farms to make up the total of 225,000,000 bushels pledged by July 1.

In human terms it was far more shameful. Because of the lack of promised U.S. grains, hunger sat at tables all over Europe. In Italy, children with spidery legs and leathery skin stalked the streets, struck down by...

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