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With food supplies in short supply in the 1940s, the British public needed to become more self-sufficient and efficient with food. The Imperial War Museum‘s new exhibition, The Ministry of Food, shows how they managed.
The Ministry of Food exhibition takes you through the different areas of the Home Front, with posters, video, and plenty of plastic food on display.
Rationing was introduced in the 1940s. If you struggle to come up with meal ideas despite today’s choices, imagine making something tasty and inventive with your allocation of dried eggs, potatoes and a tin of Spam! I tried some “mock cream” at this morning’s press view – that’s sweetened, whipped margarine as a replacement for cream, and it tasted pretty close to the real thing.
Most worryingly (for me!), tea was rationed to two ounces per week. But, with tea as an important morale booster, tea stocks were dispersed to more than 500 locations to minimise chances of destruction in an air raid. (Phew!)
But rationing did have benefits. The exhibition shows how the government educated people about nutrition through poster campaigns and friendly cartoon characters such as Doctor Carrot. Infant mortality rates actually went down during rationing.
With food a precious commodity, people were much more aware of waste; scraps were saved for feeding animals, the Women’s Institute set up a network of 5,800 preservation centres to use up surplus fruit, and even washing up was limited to twice a day to preserve soap and water.
Ministry of Food is a great insight into the everyday changes people made during the Second World War. While you’re there, make sure you take some time to look around the Imperial War Museum’s impressive permanent collection too.