At the National Archives, Life, Liberty and Carp

MORE than 80 years before “Got Milk?” there was “Eat the Carp!”

The slogan was dreamed up by the United States Department of Fisheries in 1911 as part of an effort to push the uncomely fish into the American kitchen, just one of scores of ways the federal government has tried over the last two centuries to direct how Americans eat through promotional campaigns, nutritional admonitions, factory regulations and gardening tips.

Many of these are engagingly documented in a new exhibition, “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” which opens later this month at the National Archives here.

Through documents, food labels, film footage, photographs and other artifacts from the Revolutionary War to the 1980s, the show offers a fascinating and at times quirky reminder of the vast and perpetual role that the federal government has played in all things edible, with goals both laudable and perverse....

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