This week Vinny hopes you’ll stop to remember the bravery of our troops in past wars. But it’s not just guns and bombs they had to face up to.
During wartime, hunger was also a torment. As much food as possible was dished out to the troops, to help keep them strong in battle. But often, it wasn’t enough. And as more and more was set aside for soldiers, less and less was left over for the women, children and the elderly at home. Food became a luxury.
In 1942 during the Second World War, Canada introduced food rationing to ensure that everyone got their fair share. Each ration book contained coupons for tea, coffee, sugar, and butter, along with spares in case other foods needed to be doled out. Once you used the coupons, you couldn’t buy any more of these foods.
Britain rationed food even more closely than Canada did. They also enacted a law requiring people to eat all of their rations. Rumor has it some prison sentences were even given for disobeying. Imagine if YOU had to do jail time for refusing to eat your broccoli!
People in Britain were encouraged to grow food, even in the cities. Posters asking people to ‘Dig for Victory’ popped up everywhere. If you go to the Imperial War Museum in London, you can see a photo of boys planting a garden on a bomb site in London’s East End.
The government created “healthy” recipes using the ingredients people might have on hand. If you like ordinary root veggies, you might want to try making the fabled Woolton Pie of Britain’s war years. Many people got fed up with it day in and day out. But this sounds a lot tastier than the potato peel pie they ate on Guernsey during the war! Find a more edible version here.
Things were even grimmer during the First World War, when many Canadians served with the British troops. Men on the Western Front were very critical of the trench food they received. The bulk of their diet was bully beef (canned corned beef, like today’s Spam) and stale bread and biscuits. By the winter of 1916 bread was being made from dried ground turnips. The main food was now a pea-soup with a few lumps of horsemeat. Kitchen staff had just two large vats to cook everything in. Soldiers often complained that their tea tasted like vegetables.
Vinny says, “Take a few minutes on November 11th to remember how even the simplest pleasures, like eating hot fresh food, are scarce during war time. Let’s not take for granted the sacrifices our ancestors made for us in the name of freedom.”
And the next time you pick around at your plate of food, stop. Be thankful, and dig in for victory!