In 1917 and 1918 violent cost-of-living protests, largely peopled by poor urban housewives, erupted across the world. Although Britain did not experience such dramatic events, a women's politics of food can be found in local neighborhoods that touched the lives of unorganized housewives on the wartime home front. The new local committees created to defend consumer interests in the face of food shortages proved to be permeable to some women, particularly those who already had some experience with women's politics. However, limits were placed on this participation and on the self-organization of housewives by the ambiguous understanding of who constituted a consumer and thus who could speak for the ordinary housewife as she battled the food queues. By exploring the women's politics of food at a local level, it is argued that working-class women's participation in Food Vigilance Committees or in local boycotts may have had longer lasting effects in Britain than the more dramatic cost-of-living actions elsewhere.
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