Posts Tagged ‘Ministry of Food’

Ministry of Food Formed

December 22, 2016

The Ministry of Food was formed on December 22 1916. It was formed to deal with the increasing supply problems of bad harvests, an ongoing war requiring food for civilians, war workers and troops, call up of agricultural workers and horses affecting farming and merchant shipping threatened by German U-boats.

ww1 ration book

WW1 child and adult ration books from the Ministry of Food (October 1918)

The Ministry of Shipping and Ministry of Pensions were formed on the same day, the same time that a new War cabinet wad formed under the new Prime Minister David Lloyd George.

National Archives file summary:

The first Ministry of Food was established on 22 December 1916 under a Food Controller who, under the New Ministries and Secretaries Act 1916, was empowered to regulate the supply and consumption of food and take steps for encouraging food production.

The Ministry was dissolved on 31 March 1921.

“Never Mind the Food Controller, We’ll Live on Love …” was a popular gramophone and music hall song by Florrie Forde at this time.

 The Ministry of Food survived until 1921, was reformed in 1939 for WW2 and later in the 1955 became MAFF and since 2002 DEFRA.

Inside a ww1 ration book

Inside a WW1  ration book

The national food situation would become a growing concern for gardeners and garden editors like Herbert Cowley:

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo.


Ration books, root vegetables and recession thrift in the wartime garden at Newquay Zoo

February 10, 2010

Pak choi from our first Autumn harvest 2009, adult ration book and original wartime gardening magazines from the zoo's wartime life collection (Copyright: World War Zoo project, Newquay Zoo)

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.

The distinctive National Dried Milk tin nestling (centre left) amongst some of our wartime life collection of World War Zoo items NewquayZoo (Copyright: photo by Michelle Turton, Newquay Zoo)

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 and chef Valentine Warner explores  the ration book cooking in the UK TV series Ration Book Britain

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) 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.  

Delabole Co-op and Camelford stores in Cornwall for meat, registered with Haddy's for other rationed items, (is Haddy's still going?) this well used (light brown adult RB1) Ration Book from Cornwall is part of our wartime life collection (copyright: World war Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo).

There are good short films  about food, rationing and gardening at 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).

Petrol ration books from the 1940s, Wartime life collection (copyright: World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo)

Meanwhile look out for Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff short cartoon film and 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.

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