This film is part of Free

Food and War

From British Restaurants to American victory gardens, this survey of food rationing in 1943 shows the effect of the war on the eating habits of civilians and soldiers alike.

Documentary 1943 18 mins


Full of telling details and fascinating facts, this issue argues that American civilians’ commitment to food rationing did more than anything else to make them feel part of the community of nations during the war. From crates of sauerkraut on foreign beaches to the mess tins of Russian soldiers in the Ukraine, America was committed to feeding its own civilians, the US military and much of Europe via the lend-lease scheme programme. But American farmers were feeling the pressure...

The US edition of this story was called ‘America’s Food Crisis’. Renamed ‘Food and War’ for the UK edition, the section which looks at British rationing compares the comparatively luxurious American food allowance with that allocated to the UK; as a shot of a box of Quaker cornflakes, a tin of salmon and a small pile of prunes eloquently testifies. Although the exterior of the British Restaurant seen in the film looks uninviting, the scene inside - packed tables, steaming plates piled high with food - is indicative of the popularity of these communal kitchens, which aimed to serve cheap and nutritious food to people who had run out of ration coupons or had been made homeless by bombing.