The popularity of carrot cake and baked potatoes in the Newquay Zoo cafe are only two of our wartime legacies from rationing.
The 70th anniversary of wartime rationing of food in Britain takes place this year, something which was to dominate the British household for the next 14 years from bacon, ham , sugar and butter going on ration on 8 January 1940 until the last item – meat – came off ration in June 1954.
Between these two dates, Meat was rationed in March 1940. (Zoo animals didn’t get ration books!)
In April 1940 the amazingly energetic Lord Woolton of Woolton pie fame became Minister of Food.
July 1940 saw tea, margarine, cooking fats, and cheese were rationed. March 1941 – Jam, marmalade, treacle and syrup rationed.
June 1941 – Egg distribution controlled and a year later June 1942 American Dried egg powder on sale (still available 70 years later from the 1940s Society online shop).
November 1941 saw milk controlled and in December 1941 National Dried Milk introduced in its distinctive tins.
Some of our older zoo volunteers in their fifties and sixties remember the end of sweet rationing in February 1953, 11 years after being rationed in July 1942, something they happily talked about at our last wartime garden weekend in August 2009. Few had much positive to say about whalemeat and snoek fish available for sale from January 1945 or the wartime bread which was finally rationed after the war from January 1946 to July 1948 as the rest of Europe needed to be fed. Off the ration came jam in December 1948, Tea in October 1952, Sweets in February 1953, Eggs in March 1953, Cream in April 1953, Butter, cheese, marg and cooking fats in May 1954 and Meat in June 1954.
The web editor of Yesterday’s Spirit of 1940 blog has gamely submitted herself to this wartime ration diet http://uktv.co.uk/yesterday/homepage/sid/8145 and chef Valentine Warner explores the ration book cooking in the UK TV series Ration Book Britain http://uktv.co.uk/yesterday/item/aid/632575 .
There are plenty more interesting reproduction ration cookery books (good ones by Mike Brown or Gill Corbishley) available in the exhibition shop for the fabulous new exhibition about food, rationing and gardening opens this week at the Imperial War Museum London, entitled Ministry of Food (running until 3 January 2011) http://food.iwm.org.uk/. The online shop is a good source of seeds, posters and reproduction gardening and cookery books.
Our original wartime and postwar ration books , cookery books and gardening advice leaflets and posters on display at our first wartime garden event in August 2009 were much talked about and handled and will be some of the many evocative items back on display at our 1 to 3 May 2010 second World War Zoo wartime garden weekend at Newquay Zoo. Our 2010 seeds from garden magazines and the IWM shop should be in the ground on our World War Zoo garden Plot No. 1, formerly the Lion House Lawn, and growing happily by then as well.
There are good short films about food, rationing and gardening at http://food.iwm.org.uk/ with more resources in their online shop full of seeds, posters and reproduction books.
Whilst I wait eagerly to see the new exhibition book by Jane Fearnley -Whittingstall , I’ve enjoyed reading the fabulous book from the IWM online shop by Patricia Nicol, Sucking Eggs: What Your Wartime Granny Could Teach You about Diet, Thrift and Going Green …
This sets out the very strong parallels between wartime rationing and supply shortages and our recent recession thrift, grow your own, transition towns and allotment culture approach to the environment, climate change and sustainability. We love this book and one copy isn’t enough to circulate around our zoo staff.
This book (and the IWM exhibition) is everything that our wartime garden is exploring in colourful vegetable form for zoo visitors .
We started thinking about Peak Oil at the zoo after the fuel strike of 2001. We’ll blog more this year as we watch our garden grow about the “let your shopping save our shipping” approach to food miles and local food today compared to the worst days in wartime when one in four merchant navy ships was being sunk by enemy action. This makes even more poignant our handmade wartime sliding puzzle Christmas toy made from an old Australian butter box, submitted as part of the BBC’s online museum for A History of the World in 100 objects series (see previous blog entries).
Meanwhile look out for Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff short cartoon film http://www.storyofstuff.com/ and blog http://www.storyofstuff.com/blog/ to see how Britain and many countries are still very dependent on shipping and lorries for delivery, then having to think about packaging and recycling …
Any favourite rationing recipes, we’d love to hear from you via the Blog comments page.
Happy reading, digging, gardening , cooking and recycling!
Off to eat Potato Pete (Baked jacket potato, a popular Victorian street food) and carrot cake in the zoo cafe … Mmm.
Tags: 1940s Society, Annie Leonard, dig for victory garden, food waste, gardening, gardens, history teaching, Imperial War Museum, Lord Woolton, Ministry of Food, primary history teaching, salad, story of stuff, sustainability, wartime cookery, wartime gardening, Woolton Pie, world war 2, world war two, World War Zoo gardens project, zoo, zoos