During WWII, domestically-grown foods were needed to  feed hungry armies. In response to the dwindling food supplies, the US Office of Price Administration introduced rationing in 1942, while the UK began rationing in 1941. This ensured equitable distribution.

Here are one person’s sample food rations for one week:

4 oz bacon or ham

8 oz sugar

2 oz tea

2 oz jam spread

1 oz cheese

1 shilling’s worth of meat

8 oz fats of which only 2 oz could be butter

Obviously, this isn’t much food. 4 oz of meat, for example, is considered only one serving by today’s standards.

And here’s a ration book. Each person had one. You can imagine the frustration when one got lost!


In order to supplement their diets, people kept their own chickens and “Victory Gardens”. They also poached rabbits and hares. The government strongly encouraged traditional food preservation methods such as canning, calling them “patriotic”. In 1945 the government introduced the National School Lunch Act in order to provide schoolchildren with a reasonably healthy midday meal (how times have changed).

Ever wonder how some of the “convenience” foods came about? After the war, many new foods borne of military research were introduced to the American public. These included instant coffee and cake mixes.

With the way the foodscape looks today, anyone with a bit of land or even room on their windowsill should consider growing some produce. High-quality food is becoming more and more expensive as oil prices, and therefore transportation costs, steadily climb.

  1. i agree about growing your own produce. we have a very small garden and this past year i experimented with canning and am very excited to amp up the canning efforts in 2010! and if you don’t have a yard, even one tomato plant in a pot would make a difference in your daily diet.

    Comment by liz — February 24, 2010 @ 6:39 pm