Very often we read that during wartime, specifically WWII and the following recovery period, nutrition of the overall population had not only good standards compared to our modern diets but it is actually considered that the generation that was brought up under such harsh conditions had indeed less nutritional deficiencies.
Regardless of appearances or even taste, food safety was a top priority and with just enough to ensure well balanced daily meals, food rationing without a doubt saved millions of lives in the battlefields and the home front.
In the case of Britain it took much more than a stiff upper lip to carry on with life in spite of the war, but it was a combination of factors such as social policy and direct action from the government to administrate scare resources and actively engage the whole of the population in taking actions to ensure their survival.
In a previous post I talk about the Ministry of Food and the Victory Gardens that provided the population with a permanent and unlimited source of vegetables.
Along with the victory gardens which often meant not only digging up front gardens and backyards but also turning public parks and school playgrounds into allotments, the extraordinarily well orchestrated media campaign ran by the government provided all sorts of resources such as pamphlets, books and radio programs dedicated to provide the people with the necessary information regarding the better use of the foods available along with all sorts of tips and ideas to cope with basic needs from clothes making, evacuation procedures, food preservation and ways in which men and women could contribute as civilian or volunteers by joining the forces.
Even clothes were rationing, make do and Mend was a popular campaign that encouraged housewives to repurpose clothes and fabrics available to provide their family with new clothes without spending.
I absolutely recommend the Imperial War Museum’s website it has amazing online resources. Army Bakery in Flanders.
At many museums and libraries you can easily buy facsimiles of rationing books and leaflets like these:
A cheap and fairly common treat for kids and adults alike were the Carrot Lollies, these apparently consisted of carrots repeatedly dipped in sugar syrup until a crisp crust was formed. Although I’ve read many references about them and even some descriptions I have never come across an actual recipe. If you find one pass it on!
Here’s a British Pathe short film with a rather idilic view the homefront: http://bit.ly/1k8IJTT