This post was published previously in The Bridport News
I asked my Dad what was his enduring personal memory as a young man of living through the Second World War. His answer rather surprised me: ‘Always feeling hungry’.
I suppose him being a sport mad teenager who did demanding physical work in the local colliery I shouldn’t have been surprised. No one starved in the UK during the war years but food was certainly short.
Rationing was first introduced on 8th January 1940, seventy-five years ago this week. Initially it was just bacon, butter and sugar but other items soon followed. How times change!
The matter of food waste is, no pun intended, a growing problem. In 2013 the average Briton threw away the equivalent of 24 meals a month. That equates to 86 million chickens, 24 million slices of bread, 6 million potatoes and over a million eggs. In cash terms that’s £60 out of already tight budgets.
The Great Recession does seem to have changed some shopping habits. People don’t do big weekly shops as they once did and thankfully the supermarkets are reducing BOGOF offers. Nearly half of these were fresh produce and were ending in the bin.
At home we try and buy locally produced and sourced goods from local independent traders and our waste is now negligible.
I arrived home one lunchtime to find one of our doorstep friends waiting for his lunch. He had been out hunter gathering and when I got indoors a delicious smell was permeating the house.
It turned out I was having a cheese sandwich while he was going to tuck into duck la orange scavenged from the skip of a local supermarket!
Whilst this shop subsequently locked the skip to stop access, Tesco are now supporting Fare Share, a food charity, by donating fresh produce that is still useable.
I have some old Ministry of Food leaflets from the war. ‘How to use stale crusts’ is one but my favourite is ‘Making the fat ration go further’. This has a recipe for a cake mixture using mashed potato. I’ve not tried it.