Well Fed Soldiers Will Win The War

Continuing the spirit of Mr Bumble’s Workhouse frugality, throughout both World War 1 and 2, Britain was forced to make even the leanest of leftovers last and be clever with their culinary creations. Patriotism stretched to the kitchens as government propaganda proposed that everyone should be part of the war effort.

Posters like this made the people left at home feel like they could contribute to the war effort by efficiently using their rations and limiting their wastage; thus establishing a solid link between food and patriotism.
   Cookbooks were also produced and spoke directly to those battling what seemed to be a food battle on the home-front. The Win-the-War Cookery Book was designed to help people recreate traditional recipes using waste-reducing shortcuts.

The introduction is of course addressed to women and acts similarly to what one may assume a World War 1 pep talk on the Front line might consist of. The tone is meant to inspire the women of Britain; “The struggle is not only on land and sea; it is in your larder, your kitchen, and your dining room”. This direct address, although slightly sexist and coercive in my opinion, clearly intends on making the female left at home feel part of the war effort by giving her an official role. Although this might appear patronising in this day and age, I suppose it is important to consider that throughout both wars, there was very little the female was able to contribute that would be deemed socially appropriate. Because it is written for the female audience, the blackmail centres around children; suggesting one might “fail the children” should they not pull their weight within the growing “food-fight”.

The Victory Garden was also introduced, with similar positive and winning intonation, in an attempt to convince people to transform their own gardens into plots to grow their own produce. The campaign proved to be very useful,  “the goal was to replace imported food, thus freeing up shipping space for more valuable war materials, and to make up for food that was sunk in transit. By the end of 1940, 728,000 tons of food making its way to Britain had been lost, sunk by German submarine activity.

As a struggling student I fully appreciate and often replicate the ‘Don’t Waste Food’ message. I will hold my hands up and say that in my younger days, spoilt by the luxury of home cooking and a full fridge, I would often be wasteful or unappreciative of all things abundant. Leaving behind the loveliness of never-ending milk cartons and a bountiful breadbin however, I began to see the importance of stretching every penny and getting creative with any leftovers.
   I feel like there is much to be said for the Victory Garden campaign also; given the plot I would grow my own vegetables in a heartbeat! Maintaining a fridge of fresh fruit and vegetables on such a low budget is often impossible and I know many of my friends have turned to the slightly less nutritious option of bulk frozen veg. This is of course slightly better than the bulk buying of frozen chicken nuggets…

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