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Food and Rationing

Food Shortages - Rationing

Here is the recipe for Woolton Pie, a cheap vegetable-based meal, which was named after Lord Woolton:



Cook ingredients together for 10 mins, with enough water to cover. Stir to prevent sticking, cool, put into pie dish, spinkle with parsley, cover with crust of mashed potato or pastry and cook in moderate oven until pastry cooked. Serve hot with brown gravy.

Although the Dig for Victory campaign helped with food supplies, there were still serious shortages of food and the government introduced rationing to cope with this. Rationing was a way of ensuring that everyone received a fair amount of food to ensure that the whole nation stayed healthy.


‘If it hadn’t been for the housewives there would have been chaos, 'cos they a' helped each other.’



The Ministry of Food worked out what the rations would be. The head of this department, Lord Woolton, was influenced by Scottish scientist Sir John Boyd Orr, whose studies showed that only the wealthiest half of the British population had a good, healthy diet. As a result the ministry worked out the required amounts that would ensure people got the necessary basic vitamins and protein in their diets. It also published healthy eating tips and recipes in the newspapers and came up with characters like Potato Pete and Dr Carrot to encourage people to eat healthily.

Healthy Eating - Government Issued Recipe

People were encouraged to cook a number of cheap, nutritious dishes which substituted meat with vegetables or pulses. Spam was introduced to Great Britain from the USA in 1941. It was produced as a cheap and nutritious substitute for fresh meat and although it was welcomed when it was first available, it quickly lost its novelty appeal:


‘You had Spam ordinary, you had Spam fritters, you had Spam stew, you had Spam rissoles, you had Spam everything, and I never want to see Spam again in my life.’

Getting your Ration Books and Queuing

Every person was issued with a ration book which had a page for each rationed item, divided into squares that were cancelled out each week. The following things were rationed:



‘Mum had chickens so we had eggs and of course with sugar rationing all my family liked sugar except myself so my mother used to change her cheese ration for sugar, so that was a kind of black market.’




‘It was my job to go for the rations on a Friday afternoon after school and it took forever. I used to take a book with me and now I have an aversion to queuing.’          



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