Friday, 3 February 2012

# 34 Ration Book Britain

I had an idea this week (one of many so don't get any ideas). What if I could combine a bit of weight loss with an historical experiment. Programmes like Ration Book Britain and Supersizers bring it all to life and I felt a bit inspired. So I thought that if people managed to survive the entire war on it. Why couldn't I?

And then I discovered Carolyn from Nova Scotia and 'The 1940's Experiment'. I shouldn't be surprised that this had already been thought of. But that this woman is aiming to spend a year on a World War Two ration diet fills me full of horror. What no chocolate? Her website is however, very interesting and loaded with information about the diet she is on, the recipes she's using and her progress, which is quite astonishing.

A weekly ration (source)
So, what was the WW2 ration diet like? Well Carolyn is using a typical weekly ration allowance of:

Meat to the value of 1 shilling and sixpence (around 1/2 lb minced beef)
Butter 2 oz
Cheese 2 oz
Margarine 4 oz
Cooking fat (lard) 4 oz
Milk 3 pints
Sugar 8 oz
Preserves 1 lb every 2 months
Tea 2 oz
Eggs 1 fresh
Sweets/Candy 12 oz every 4 weeks

Additionally, during the war points were scored for every imported product you had and you were allowed 16 points every 4 weeks, so that would be for things like tinned tomatoes, imported fruit etc.
Carolyn's impressive 4 months

Certain things weren't rationed. Vegetables weren't but were often in short supply. If you grew your own, that was yours. The same with eggs. If you kept your own hens, you got as many eggs as they were laying. Bread was not rationed but they did introduce the 'National Loaf' which was a standard wholemeal loaf introduced right across the country and baked in every bakers. 

The thing is, back in the 1940s everyone survived it. People were fitter and healthier and I don't know of any cases of anyone starving to death. You got used to it because nearly everyone was doing it. That Carolyn has lost a stone every month for the 4 months she's been doing the diet is quite remarkable. When you look at her typical daily diet as well, it's not that bad. She seems to eat her socks off in the evening.

The key missing ingredient is of course processed food. Everything is from scratch or fresh. Even the recipes are devoid of artificial stuff but I suppose there was less around in the 1940s anyway. We live in a world of convenience, we're used to living the quick easy snack way and accustomed to fake flavours and artificial colourings.

Going back to basics is an interesting alternative and I think once I can start planting in the garden and the hens are laying with more enthusiasm, this could be the diet challenge I was looking for - something with a bit of substance and meaning and it's also a bit of a historical journey too.

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