Exhibition – ‘Ministry of Food Exhibition’ @ Imperial War Museum (to 3 Jan 2011)

FoodTake a look at the ways in which wartime Britain coped with low food supplies and growing their own with the Ministry of Food exhibition at Imperial War Museum London.

Ministry of Food
With the outbreak of war and the introduction of food rationing, the goverment set up the Ministry of Food to ensure that everyone in the country was catered for as well as could be. With slogans such as Dig for Victory, War on Waste and Lending a Hand on the Land, everyone was encouraged to take responsibility for the food on their plates and do their bit to keep the public well fed, and you can see how these ideas were implemented in the Ministry of Food exhibition.

Grow your own
Food rationing lasted for fourteen years and completely changed the face of food in Britain, not to mention creating a healthier diet for many. As food imports from foreign countries were drastically cut, British people had to rely on seasonal and locally grown produce to supply their kitchens. Visitors to the Ministry of Food exhibition are able to see just how the trend for growing your own and sourcing locally began in the 1930s rather than in last few years.

Dig for Victory
Exploring the ways in which food supplied shops, kitchens and canteens came from farms, vegetable gardens and allotments rather than overseas, the exhibition highlights the ways in which people were encouraged to cut their own portion size, grow their own vegetables and share their food with families who had been bombed out of their homes, all in order to make Britain more self sufficient. The Ministry of Food exhibition invites visitors to take a look around a wartime greenhouse, a 1040s grocers shop and a typical kitchen from the era, complete with larder, gas cooker, and plenty of wartime recipes.

Food for all
With the Women’s Land Army and the Farming Holiday Camps helping the farmers and the green-fingered vegetable growers in their gardens and window boxes, the country was able to produce enough to keep supplies going under the duress of war. But preparing it and cooking it in the most efficient way, using up all the ingredients and ensuring there was no waste wasall important. The Ministry of Food was key to implementing guides for housewifes and cooks, in order to increase the number of meals it would provide, and in this exhibition you can see plenty of ways in which this was achieved.

Unusual ingredients
Dried eggs, spam and margarine were all ingredients that became familiar to anyone in the kitchen during the war, and these were just part of the campaign to ration and stretch out food resources to the maximum. Adapting to the new foods was tricky for some, and the Ministry of Food exhibition shows some of the Food Flashes films that instructed cooks on how to create dishes and what to use when. Marguerite Patten, a famous nutritionist from the Ministry of Food, broadcast special films called Kitchen Front that were intended to inspire and educate people, which are also see on show at the exhibition.

Paying tribute
Along with showing just how we won the war on food shortages during the Second World War, the Ministry of Food exhibition also highlights the dangers that were involved in shipping and transporting the food around the country. Thousands were killed in their efforts to help maintain the food supplies to everyone at home, from the 30,000 killed in the Merchant Navy to all the dockers, lorry drivers and bargees who delivered it to shops and houses. Paying tribute to those that lost their lives and who struggled to ensure that Britain didn’t starve, the Imperial War Museum looks at how everyone involved in the process from growing and transporting to cooking and delivering it.

Ministry of Food Exhibition

  • 12 February to 3 January 2011
  • 10am – 6pm
  • £4.95
  • Imperial War Museum

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