Credits, Footnotes + Bibliography | Press Release PDF

Visit the Exhibit


An expanded version of the exhibit resides online at this URL:

Press Release PDF

See behind-the-scenes photos of the project.

Order reprints of posters from NAL.

In Person

USDA South Building Cafeteria
1400 Independence Ave, SW
Washington, DC
October 6 – November 10, 2010

The USDA South Building Cafeteria is open to the public Monday through Friday, 6:30am to 3:30pm.
Directions to USDA.

USDA North/Whitten Building Patio*
National Mall, Jefferson Drive
Washington, DC
September 16 – October 1, 2010

*escort required for non-USDA employees

1st Floor, National Agricultural Library
10301 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD
June 21 – September 10, 2010

The exhibit, located in the Library’s main reading room, is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm.
Visit NAL's website for directions.

Free Public Programs

Exhibit Talk by curator, Cory Bernat
3:30pm Tuesday, June 7, 2011
National Museum of American History,
Tuesday Colloquium Series,
NMAH East Conference Room, Fourth Floor,
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

Exhibit Tours, 12:30pm Fridays,
October 15, 22, & 29, 2010
USDA South Building Cafeteria
1400 Independence Ave, SW
Washington, DC

Exhibit Tour & Talk by curator, Cory Bernat
1:30pm Wednesday, September 8, 2010
1st Floor, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, Maryland

Around the Web Food & Think Blog, May 28, 2010, American Food Posters from World War I and II by Amanda Benson., July 22, 2010, Beans Are Bullets: War-Era Food Posters by Xeni Jardin.

GOOD Blog, July 24, 2010, Old School Food Infographic by Andrew Price.

Food Safety News, July 27, 2010, Food Posters on Display at National Ag Library by Helena Bottemiller.

Food Politics, July 27, 2010, U.S. Government Food Posters on exhibit! Online! by Marion Nestle.

Meta Filter, July 29, 2010, Have you eaten your pound of potatoes today?

American Historical Association, July 29, 2010, What We’re Reading: July 29, 2010 Edition, Food Posters, Contributors: Elisabeth Grant and Vernon Horn.

Fast Company's Design Blog, Co.Design, July 29, 2010, How America Waged War With Food and Graphic Design, by Cliff Kuang.

Smithsonian's Lemelson Center Events Blog, September 15, 2010, Food for Tomorrow Symposium, November 5-6, 2010 at the National Museum of American History (related exhibitions in the Washington, D.C. area).

Washington Post Food Blog, October 4, 2010, For Dietary Advice, the Writing Was on the Wall by Jane Black.

Media Alert

When Beans Were Bullets: War-Era Food Posters

from the Collection of the National Agricultural Library

May 2010
What can war posters tell us about our nation's attempts to modify food consumption habits? When Beans Were Bullets is an exhibit of posters from World War I & II focused on food and agriculture. The exhibit examines the evolution of poster styles, propaganda messages, and advertising history from the two time periods.

Viewers will recognize familiar wartime messages about food conservation, rationing, and home canning. But today's audience will be surprised by government messages encouraging homefront populations to eat locally, healthfully, and conscientiously in order to put the nation's interest first and contribute to distant war efforts. The exhibit also retraces the advent of modern consumer culture, including the far-reaching influence of both the Advertising Council of World War II and the dawn of the advertising industry in the 1920s and '30s.

Combining the eye of a graphic designer with the research skills of a historian, curator Cory Bernat highlights the dramatic differences in style and content that emerged between the two wars. She displays copies of over seventy posters on fence panels instead of in frames to highlight their mass-produced quality. She uncovered the posters over the last two years among unprocessed holdings within NAL’s Special Collections, where the originals are still held.

A ready reference for researchers and educators, an expanded, online version of the exhibit [ beans_are_bullets] serves as a preview of the physical exhibit, open June 21 – September 10 at NAL in Beltsville, MD and October 6 – November 10, 2010 at the USDA South Building in Washington, DC.

Cory Bernat researched and created When Beans Were Bullets in collaboration with the National Agricultural Library. Bernat is a designer, curator, and public historian living in Washington, DC.

Contact Cory Bernat:

Exhibit website:

Order reprints of posters from NAL.
For information about NAL’s Special Collections, visit: or call: (301) 504-6503.

See behind-the-scenes photos of the project.