Sunday, May 23, 2010

WW II Rationing--the Google Search

From U.S.

The interesting bits: "The federal government needed to control supply and demand. Rationing was introduced to avoid public anger with shortages and not to allow only the wealthy to purchase commodities. While industry and commerce were affected, individuals felt the effects more intensely. People were often required to give up many material goods, but there also was an increase in employment."


"Individual efforts evolved into clubs and organizations coming to terms with the immediate circumstances. Joining together to support and maintain supply levels for the troops abroad meant making daily adjustments. Their efforts also included scrap drives, taking factory jobs, goods donations and other similar projects to assist those on the front."


" Rationing regulated the amount of commodities that consumers could obtain. Sugar rationing took effect in May 1943 with the distribution of "Sugar Buying Cards." Registration usually took place in local schools. Each family was asked to send only one member for registration and be prepared to describe all other family members. Coupons were distributed based on family size, and the coupon book allowed the holder to buy a specified amount. Possession of a coupon book did not guarantee that sugar would be available. Americans learned to utilize what they had during rationing time.

While some food items were scarce, others did not require rationing, and Americans adjusted accordingly. "Red Stamp" rationing covered all meats, butter, fat, and oils, and with some exceptions, cheese. Each person was allowed a certain amount of points weekly with expiration dates to consider. "Blue Stamp" rationing covered canned, bottled, and frozen fruits and vegetables, plus juices and dry beans; and such processed foods as soups, baby food and catsup. Ration stamps became a kind of currency with each family being issued a "War Ration Book." Each stamp authorized a purchase of rationed goods in the quantity and time designated, and the book guaranteed each family its fair share of goods made scarce, thanks to the war.

Rationing also was determined by a point system. Some grew weary of trying to figure out what coupon went with which item, or how many points they needed to purchase them, while some coupons did not require points at all. In addition to food, rationing encompassed clothing, shoes, coffee, gasoline, tires, and fuel oil. With each coupon book came specifications and deadlines. Rationing locations were posted in public view. Rationing of gas and tires highly depended on the distance to one's job. If one was fortunate enough to own an automobile and drive at the then specified speed of 35 mph, one might have a small amount of gas remaining at the end of the month to visit nearby relatives.

Rationing resulted in one serious side effect: The black market, where people could buy rationed items on the sly, but at higher prices. The practice provoked mixed emotions from those who banded together to conserve as instructed, as opposed to those who fed the black market's subversion and profiteering. For the most part, black marketeers dealt in clothing and liquor in Britain, and meat, sugar and gasoline in the United States."


"Recycling was born with the government’s encouragement. Saving aluminum cans meant more ammunition for the soldiers. Economizing initiatives seemed endless as Americans were urged to conserve and recycle metal, paper and rubber. War bonds and stamps were sold to provide war funds, and the American people also united through volunteerism. Communities joined together to hold scrap iron drives, schoolchildren pasted saving stamps in bond books.

Others planted "Victory Gardens" to conserve food. For a small investment in soil, seed and time, families could enjoy fresh vegetables for months. By 1945, an estimated 20 million victory gardens produced approximately 40 percent of America's vegetables.

Training sessions were held to teach women to shop wisely, conserve food and plan nutritious meals, as well as teach them how to can food items. The homemaker planned family meals within the set limits. The government's pursuading of people to give up large amounts of red meats and fats resulted in people eating more healthily.

The government also printed a monthly meal-planning guide with recipes and a daily menu. Good Housekeeping magazine printed a special section for rationed foods in its 1943 cookbook. Numerous national publications also featured articles explaining what rationing meant to America."


"After three years of rationing, World War II came to a welcome end. Rationing, however, did not end until 1946. Life resumed as normal and the consumption of meat, butter and sugar inevitably rose. While Americans still live with some of the results of World War II, rationing has not returned."

Okay, so now I know that what are commonly thought of as "frugal foods" today (beans, rice, etc.) were rationed right along with everything else. I guess the simplest way of sorting it out is "if you grew it, hunted it, or fished it, you owned it." As for clothing and other material items: "if you made it, you owned it." I think bartering with neighbors was also allowed--if a neighbor had chickens, a cow, or whatever, you could barter with or buy from them your butter, eggs, chicken meat, or whatever.

From Mother Jones: "Rationed items included tires, cars, bicycles, gasoline, fuel oil and kerosene, solid fuels, stoves, rubber footwear, shoes, sugar, coffee, processed foods, meats, canned fish, cheese, canned milk, fats, and typewriters." Let's not forget those all-important nylons!

This from a lesson plan Citizen Involvement in the War Effort at Home—Food Rationing:

* Why was rationing important during WWII?

* How would your eating habits change if your foods were rationed tomorrow as in 1943?

* There were benefits to rationing. With less gasoline and rubber, traffic deaths dropped sharply. Can you think of other ways in which rationing might have benefited Americans?

* Why was it important to have families can all kinds of food during WWII?

The World War Two in Northern England site tells us "the legendary (Hormel) SPAM was almost always available and for many families became the multi-purpose meat of wartime existence. Housewives used it in a variety of ingenious ways" and "The Women's Land Army (WLA) was formed in 1939 to replace farmer's helpers who had been conscripted in the armed forces or to augment existing work forces. Young women were recruited and underwent intense, high caliber, training before being assigned to farms. They were uniformed in khaki shirts & jodhpurs, dark green wool pullovers and sturdy brown boots. WLA members resided on the farms to which they were assigned and performed every farm task imaginable. The program was an enormous success and the efforts of the WLA went a long way to insure the civilian population was adequately fed throughout the war. Even the smallest farms were assigned WLA members on application."

Apparently Spam and coffee weren't rationed, although coffee was in short supply (thanks to German supply boat bombings). It's good to see women put to good use by training them for farm work, as well as the Rosie the Riveter activities we did over here. Maybe this is an answer to our unemployment and illegal alien problems--not just for women, but for everybody who's unemployed! Put them to work on farms, and we won't need any more illegals to pick our fruit, clean our houses, manage our gardens, and roof our houses.

Spam SHOULD'VE BEEN rationed for the salt content. :)


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