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  • 'Eating herring is patriotic' article from Llais Llafur 10 October 1914

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“Herrings and Patriotism.
HOW YOU CAN SERVE YOUR COUNTRY
THE CALL OF THE ECONOMIST.
The reader will not unnaturally ask what possible connections there are between Herrings and Patriotism Many extraordinary things have come to light since the war, however, and in recent issue of a London Daily Paper Mr. L. G. Chiozza Money, M.P., a well-known economist, showed that it is one of the duties of men and women who desire to serve the best interests of their country, to eat as many herrings as possible during the period of the war.
GERMANY'S 'BISMARK' HERRING
The war is teaching us a number of things. For example, I have got to know more about herrings just lately than ever before. In the past the herrings and I have net been the best of friends, owing to the fact that one cultivates an unconscionable number of exceedingly small bones. One of the enemy countries long ago detected this unthinking dispensation of Providence, and produced an article known as the "Bismarck" herring, which has become familiar to many British subjects. But we should not lightly suppose that the big German consumption of herrings has been in so delicate a form. Our large export of herrings to Germany, amounting to no less than 270,000 worth in 1913, is consumed, I am giving to understand, as a plain fare. The exported herrings are highly salted, and one way of getting rid of the salt is to cook them with potatoes) in the same vessel, so that the oversalted herring savours the potatoes.
The Secretary for Scotland is very much worried, just now because of the position of the Scotch herring industry, and, indeed, with which the East Coast is concerned from far North of Scotland to down South of Lowestoft, has an output the value of which runs into millions, and exports of which last year were as follows:
To Russia £ 1,990.000
TO Germany. 2,270,000
TO other countries 1,080,000
£ 5,340.000
A JUST TRADE.
Mr Chiozza Money proceeds to show that many little capitals, and many "lives o' men," as the old song has it, are engaged in this great trade, and it will be understood how parlous is its position now. We want to supply our herrings to Russia; we do not want to supply them to Germany. There was a big drop in the Russian consumption, and in the exports generally last month. Continuing the writer says:-
It is of special importance to pre- serve the thousands of little independencies which are engaged in the herring trade, and I write this article to endeavour to impress upon the British public that they can assist very easily and very effectively by themselves consuming herrings.
The Board of Agriculture and Fisheries have issued an appeal, from which I take the following:
The attention of the public is directed to the value of fish as food, which may well be used in substitution for any other forms of food the prices of which may be enhanced. Moreover, not only is fish a highly nutritious and wholesome food, but, the supply being drawn for the most part from international waters, and being constantly replenished by the ordinary process of Nature, the consumption of fish involves no depletion of the national stock of food supplies.
This is all very true, but I doubt that the special circumstances to which I have directed attention will lead any to see the desirability of deliberately eating herrings with the special purpose of assisting those who work in a great, honourable, and dangerous calling.
MAKE THE HERRING POPULAR.
Mr Chiozza. Money wants us all to make the herring as popular as possible and adds :—
If it is permissible here to make a suggestion to the highest quarters, I should be delighted to hear that the Royal Family had breakfasted all herrings for an entire week with unmitigated satisfaction, and that they had made known the fact to the nobility and gentry. If we can only make the herring fashionable we can easily compensate the fishermen for a considerable part of their loss of export trade.
And why should not the herrings be utilised by those charged with the feeding of the necessitous, whether the necessitous, be adults or school children? The fare is not only good, but cheap. If the herring were rarer it would be highly esteemed as a luxury and delicacy. Fortunately, however, Nature produces them in inexhaustible supply. This is "official," for, as it will be seen by the above, extract, the Board of Agricultural and Fisheries, after inquiries, assure us that fish are "constantly replenished by the ordinary processes of Nature."
DISOBLIGING THE ENEMY.
The writer, however, proceeds to unfold his argument and shows a two, fold reason for the consumption of herrings. He says :—
It is obvious that if a British subject patriotically eats a herring, there is one herring less for the Germans to eat. To put it seriously, the Germans are trying, by devious methods, to get our herrings. Therefore, by eating herrings, we oblige ourselves, we perform a great service for some very good fellows and their wives and families, and we disoblige the enemy
I may add that I do not understand the retail price of herrings, but that is part of the ordinary mystery of commerce upon which I have in time of peace commented in this column. I find on inquiry in the proper quarters that I paid the other day no less than two pence apiece for herrings! Even at twopence the herring is cheap food and halesome farin'.”

Living Seas Wales: LSW_SOnline_178

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