November 11 allows us to remember all of those that fought, scarified & died for us during the Wars to allow us to live free and without tyranny.
It is estimated that 37 Million people died in WWI and as many as 72 Million people died in WWII and countless others in smaller wars.
Many of the victims of war were not military personnel but civilians. Civilians died as causalities of war from disease, genocide, malnutrition or starvation.
It is important that we take time to remember and thank those who sacrificed for us and to learn the lessons from these wars.
One of the lessons of war is about food.
Food has always been considered a weapon of War, but it was also considered important to the War efforts.
For Canadians food was central to our experiences during World War II.
There was significant effort to feed the military and feed the civilian population at home.
During Word War II, from 1940-1943, the Canadian government decided to implement policies that would change the way we ate and how we produced food. Food Policies were put in place by the government because upward of 60% of the Canadian population was vitamin & mineral deficient. This meant that there were a high number of medical rejections by the Canadian military.1
Following this The Canadian Government put out food rules and regulations to help support Canadians’ nutrition needs along with slogan campaigns. The following were the food rules provided to Canadians.
Canada’s Food Rules (Today known as Canada’s Food Guide) included 6 food groups for a healthy diet: Milk, Cereal & Breads, Fruits, Vegetable, eggs and meats.
Canada also provided slogan campaigns. These were straight forward and intense.
“Eat right, feel right – Canada needs you strong!” OR “Canada’s Faulty Diet is Adolf Hitler’s Ally.”1
Sacrifice, austerity, and thrift dominated much of the wartime discussions of food, but this was contradicted by the reality that Canadians’ generally ate more, and better, than they had for more than a decade.
The following is the rations that individuals were given along with a ration card.
WW2 Rations 1940: per one person (adult)
Butter: 50g (2oz)
Bacon or ham: 100g (4oz)
Margarine: 100g (4oz)
Cooking fat/lard: 100g (4oz)
Sugar: 225g (8oz).
Meat: To the value of 1/2d and sometimes 1/10d – about 1lb (450g) to 12ozs (350g)
Milk: 3 pints (1800ml) occasionally dropping to 2 pints (1200ml).
Cheese: 2oz (50g) rising to 8oz (225g)
Eggs: 1 fresh egg a week.
Tea: 50g (2oz).
Jam: 450g (1lb) every two months.
Dried eggs: 1 packet (12 eggs) every four weeks.
Sweets & Chocolate: 350g (12oz) every four weeks
Statistics showed that the per capita consumption of nearly every nutrient had increased during the war. Even as late as 1945, per capita consumption of dairy products, fruit, and meat were each up 23 percent over 1939 levels, while poultry and egg consumption were up 12 percent1. Rationing typically required the average Canadian to eat less butter, sugar, and tea. It also required them to eat approximately two pounds of meat per person per week promised under rationing measures. This assured a level of consumption from legal sources that were in excess of what most Canadians were eating during the Depression.
While we take time to remember and reflect for the Canadians who sacrificed it is also interesting to understand how the war shaped our lives in ways, we may not have thought or expected.
Nutrition was of critical importance even during war time. While we have come a long way since this time, we still know and understand that a balanced diet, along with sleep and exercise creates a healthy lifestyle and can lead to a happy relationship with food.
- Anne Fromer, “Is Food the Answer to Increased Production?,” Saturday Night (12 December 1942), 42-3. http://wartimecanada.ca/essay/eating/food-home-front-during-second-world-war
- Food on the Home Front during the Second World War. Ian Mosby, McMaster University. (2014). http://wartimecanada.ca/document/world-war-i/rationing/rationing-wartime-britain
- Government of Canada. Canada’s Food Guides from 1942 to 1992. (2007-02-05). https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/canada-food-guide/background-food-guide/canada-food-guides-1942-1992.html