Saturday, March 08, 2008

Food warsAn interesting poster exhibition at the Imperial War Museum entitled, Weapons of Mass Communication. The posters range from war recruitment to pro and anti war messages along with posters about keeping war secrets and food rationing. The exhibition is very colorful and it is interesting to see how the different messages were conveyed by the posters.

Some via guilt, with recruitment posters showing a guilty looking father with his child reading a war hero booking and the child asking, ‘Daddy how come you didn’t go to war?’ and another poster about keeping war secrets, the imagery was a pretty woman and two army generals speaking candidly about the war beside her at a posh bar. The caption read something to the effect - be careful what you say as pretty women can also be smart and give away war secrets to the enemy, they don't just smile and have no brains?!

The food ones were interesting as there were huge campaigns for people to grow their own food during rationing and how not to waste food and make it last. They should enforce a rationing system again and it would be interesting to see how many people plant stuff in their gardens and get thinking about how much food they waste!
I read something about the weekly rations and at times it was pretty limited. I can see how our grandparents were very frugal as living on a tiny lump of butter a week really made you precious about all that you had.

Butter, bacon and sugar were the first goods to be rationed in January 1940 followed by meat and preserves in March 1940, tea, margarine and cooking fats in July 1940 and cheese in 1941. Sugar, bacon, butter, cheese and cooking fats were rationed by weight and the relevant ration coupons entitled the customer to buy a given weight. The museum even has war time cookbooks which outlined how to use rations to feed your family. It must have been an interesting time to live in.

The rationing system seemed complicated but it made sense as vegetarians could swap their meat coupons for more fats and fruit while manual and agricultural workers were allowed an extra piece of cheese ration and pregnant women, children and the elderly were given more milk, eggs and fresh fruit allowances.

Perhaps a good test would be to live on a typical diet that was allocated via the rations during the war and see how we would fare today.

No comments: