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Old 09-07-2014, 11:11 PM   #1
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1940's Experiment

So I was cruising about the Internet like I often do and something caught my eye: A woman had engaged in an experiment to make do with what would have been her weekly food rations during WWII. She lives in the UK and so her weekly ration is as follows:

Bacon & Ham - 4 ounces
Meat to the value of 1 shilling and six pence (1/2 pound of minced beef)
Butter - 2 ounces
Cheese - 2 ounces
Margarine - 4 ounces
Cooking fat - 4 ounces
Milk - 3 pints
Sugar - 8 ounces
Preserves - 1 pound every 2 months
Tea - 2 ounces
Eggs - 1 fresh egg per week
Sweets/Candy - 12 ounces every four weeks

In addition, you got to spend an additional 16 points per four weeks which would get you a can of tinned fish, 2 pounds of dried fruit, or 8 pounds of dried peas.

I've not been able to find a definitive list of what one could claim in the states, but I've read it was roughly twice the UK rations. I do know that it was a pound of coffee per five weeks.

When I first started to read about the project, I was pretty sassy. "Oh, I could do that," I said with a flip of my hair....until I hit the egg and milk part. Then...sugar. I've also read that flour was sometimes scarce. Seafood and fish were not limited unless it was in a can.

So the lady who did the experiment lost a boat-load of weight, which was her goal, but I'm totally amazed that she stuck to her rations!

I also learned that rationing in the UK continued until well-past the war.

If that kind of thing returned, I believe that I could do it - but it would take some serious planning. I'd definitely have a victory garden and a backyard full of chickens!

Does anyone remember food rations during WWII or after?


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Old 09-07-2014, 11:29 PM   #2
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very neat, kath. thanks for posting this.

i was raised on stories of rationing during the big one. my mom was the youngest of eight children of recent norwegian immigrants living in brooklyn, and dad served in the 28th infantry, then came home to brooklyn after the war.

i'll have to ask my parents for more specifics of the meals they ate during that time.
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Old 09-07-2014, 11:29 PM   #3
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Yikes...I would be protein starved in no time.
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Old 09-07-2014, 11:44 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by buckytom View Post
very neat, kath. thanks for posting this.

i was raised on stories of rationing during the big one. my mom was the youngest of eight children of recent norwegian immigrants living in brooklyn, and dad served in the 28th infantry, then came home to brooklyn after the war.

i'll have to ask my parents for more specifics of the meals they ate during that time.
I'm really curious on how the UK list differs from the one in the US. I remember my grandmother talking about wearing her worn out sneakers to town only to change into her nice shoes to shop and changing back when she got to the edge of town to return home. I also know that she would walk to her mother's home as her mother ran a dairy and help make butter, cheese, etc.

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Yikes...I would be protein starved in no time.
I think I would see if I could trade my minced beef for beans and use the ham/bacon to season them. I see a lot of beans in my future with this diet. Hmm...was one allowed to legally trade?

Also, with such little sugar, I would try dehydrating to store fruits.

My best plan involves a garden and egg-laying hens.
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Old 09-07-2014, 11:53 PM   #5
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My parents spent a few months in England in 1946 on their way from Sweden to the US. My mum admits she went a little crazy because of the chocolate rationing. She hadn't realized she was a chocoholic.
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Old 09-08-2014, 04:38 AM   #6
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I don't think this would "go over" very well with many people in today's entitlement culture if it really happened again. Interesting problem to think about. Social unrest, food riots, cattle rustling and other thefts would become more common. Much different reaction than the "pull together", "self reliant", and "common good" culture of that generation.

You would have to supplement your rations to survive. Home canning would suddenly become very BIG again. The hoarders you see on tv would be proven right.

Just my .02

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Old 09-08-2014, 06:22 AM   #7
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What I remember was the meat rationing. As a result, we kids would dig for clams in the summer and after a Nor'easter, all of us would go down to the beach and harvest the lobsters that got washed up on shore. It helped my mother save her meat coupons for the end of the month. But we did eat a lot of seafood during the war. The fishing fleet at that time was located in our community. My mother would go down there and buy just one large haddock for supper. Then she would go to the community garden and buy some veggie for supper. A local farmer's market. The veggies were cut or pulled right there from the ground. You got dirt and all the topping of the veggie. Like in carrots.

I also remember my mother making toast and sprinkling a little sugar on it and telling me that was desert. Most of the deserts she made though had molasses in them in place of the sugar that other recipes called for. I don't remember of ever feeling deprived at that time. For me, it was when I learn most of my cooking skills from my mother. You learned to make do with what you had. She taught me how to haggle for a better price.
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Old 09-08-2014, 08:00 AM   #8
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I grew up in the 1950's learning how to cook from 5 aunts and my mum who were all smashing cooks. These women were inventive, shrewd and and fed families on practically no extras that we take for granted today. They would make tasty, filling and honest dinners. OK, so they weren't going to win 'Masterchef' but nothing ever seemed to faze them. I still have a weakness for homemade bread and strawberry jam or a roly poly pudding and custard. When I grew up and was a young mum and we were really hard-up I knew how to feed us well. All thanks to those wonderful ladies.
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Old 09-08-2014, 08:14 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Addie View Post
What I remember was the meat rationing. As a result, we kids would dig for clams in the summer and after a Nor'easter, all of us would go down to the beach and harvest the lobsters that got washed up on shore. It helped my mother save her meat coupons for the end of the month. But we did eat a lot of seafood during the war. The fishing fleet at that time was located in our community. My mother would go down there and buy just one large haddock for supper. Then she would go to the community garden and buy some veggie for supper. A local farmer's market. The veggies were cut or pulled right there from the ground. You got dirt and all the topping of the veggie. Like in carrots.

I also remember my mother making toast and sprinkling a little sugar on it and telling me that was desert. Most of the deserts she made though had molasses in them in place of the sugar that other recipes called for. I don't remember of ever feeling deprived at that time. For me, it was when I learn most of my cooking skills from my mother. You learned to make do with what you had. She taught me how to haggle for a better price.
My maternal grandmother had a garden and kept laying hens. Growing up, my mom would tell me about how grandpa got paid "in kind" (he was a pharmacist) and would often come home with food. My grandmother did a lot of canning, and they supplemented their diets with fish and wild game. Luckily, my grandfather got "C" gas rations because he had to deliver drugs (omg, never thought about it--I'm related to a drug runner...), so they could go out into the country and hunt or to the lake to fish. Times were tough, but they didn't starve.
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Old 09-08-2014, 08:19 AM   #10
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I just remember stories like everyone saving sugar to take to a bakery so the baker could make a wedding cake.

My Father's family had it pretty easy, as far as food, during the Great Depression and the war rationing. His Father owned a farm and was a part time mailman, his Grandfather owned a store that housed the small town post office. My Mother's family had relatives that owned a farm and her Father was a fire chief for the city that they lived in.

I have always had an interest in the sacrifices that people made during the Great Depression and the war rationing. A great series of books by Rita Van Amber and her daughter Janet Van Amber Paske provide a glimpse into peoples lives and help understand why we eat some of the foods we do. Another good book is Grandma's Wartime Kitchen by JoAnne Lamb Hayes.

If you can find a complete list of the war time rationing rules in the United States I would be willing to see if I can get by for a couple of weeks, sounds like an interesting challenge to me!

This link has some additional information.

http://histclo.com/mat/rat/cou/rat-usw2.html
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