Voluntary Rationing at Home

Ethel M. Chapman January 1 1918

Voluntary Rationing at Home

Ethel M. Chapman January 1 1918

Voluntary Rationing at Home

Ethel M. Chapman

VERILY we dwell in a land of plenty. On a thousand hills are cattle, and the crops of the fields were never so abundant. In Great Britain, while every householder with enough ground to plant a tulipbed has dug it up to grow potatoes, we still have our public parks and golf links. We know we have more land under culti%’ation than is needed to feed ourselves and it seems to fill us with a surprising content. Still, while every pound of food must be accounted for in Great Britain through careful organization in that countryactual hunger has not struck yet. It is our allies in F rance and Belgium and Serbia who know how it feels to see their children wasting from starvation. They have done all they can to produce food, while the men have been fighting the women have been working in the fields! Horses and oxen are scarce and hundreds of women have even dragged the ploughs. They have not complained about it; the French women are ready to suffer anything that will give them some part in the sacrifice with their men, but with inefficient help, without implements or live stock, the crops of France are steadily failing, and they look to North America to supply the tremendous lack of food. Whether we fail them or not will depend not only on a nation-wide effort on our farms to produce more food, but on an intelligent, eternal vigilance in our kitchens to see that every possible pound of the kinds of food our armies and allies want is saved for them.

We know all about the world shortage of wheat. We have been told that in addition to their own inferior crops the Allies will need to import 577,000,000 bushels of wheat this year, and that shipping conditions make it necessary for them to depend almost entirely on Canada and the United States for this. At the usual rate of consumption at home we can send them only 200,000,000 bushels. Think what this would mean. We might send them corn or rye or barley, but for a hundred years the wheat loaf has been the basis of life in Europe, except in Italy;

their mills and bakeries are not equipped to handle anything else, and their people have no time to learn. Also both the fighting men and the civilian population in the invaded countries are living under a strain which leaves them in no condition to stand a change of diet. It is possible, however, to make a war-bread, substituting as much as forty per cent, of some other cereal for wheat. With this arrangement if we can save 150,000,000 bushels to add to our 200,000,000 bushels for export, there will be enough bread to go around, but it means that every individual here Will have to eat at least one-fourth less wheat and substitute some other cereal in its place.

THERE are several ways of doing this. One of the lessons that Canadians have to learn from Europe is that white bread is not the bread for war time, that when the supply of wheat is low bread must be made of other grains than wheat; also that in the milling of the wheat the manufacturer must put a greater proportion of the grain into flour and less into cattle-feed. That there is danger of overdoing this, however, has been proved by experience in Great Britain. Since the Government made it compulsory to mill the wheat up to eightyone per cent., reports have shown that while the large proportion of coarse bran Is most healthful for some people, it is not always safe as a regular food for children or individuals of delicate digestion. In Canada up to the present, only seventy per cent, of the wheat grain has been made into flour, of the Food Controller

requires all mills to manufacture three grades, the highest extraction that will make a wholesome loaf, A bigger saving can be effected by the housekeepers of the country in using a combination of flour from some other grain with the wheat flour necessary to make the loaf rise well and hold together. With oat, corn, and rice flour about eighty per cent, of wheat flour is needed to give a light bread; with rye and barley, greater quantities of the substitute can be used. A number of “war bread” recipes for home use are given at the close of this article. If every household in America would try honestly to use no more wheat flour than is absolutely necessary in breads, and no wheat at all as a breakfast food, it would not take us long to make up the 150,000,000 bushels which we owe to Europe.

Even the price of rolled oats and corn meal has something in its favor. The price of oats has not increased as rapidly as the price of wheat; they are relatively cheaper than they were before the war. On the basis of nutritive value rolled oats costs one-fifth as much as bacon and eggs, one-fifth as much as steak and potatoes, one-half as much as bread and milk. In the case of wheat substitutes, at least, it cannot be said that they are more expensive than the article we are asked to save. Occasionally we hear a murmur that the price of bread should be “fixed”—that it has been fixed in Great Britain. It is true that the British Government has set the uniform price for bread at 18 cents for a four-pound loaf, and 5 cents for a one pound loaf. The Government will keep the bread at this comparatively low price by paying the difference. Already a subsidy of $200,000,001) has been appropriated to keep these prices, and the people will pay it back in taxes. Are we not still able in Canada to pay for our bread as we eat it?

To supply meat for the army seems a more expensive and difficult problem. Every Canadian must learn with gratitude that through the Food Controller’s institution of two beefless and baconless days in public eating places the consumption of beef has been reduced 40 per cent., of bacon 51 per cent., which means a monthly saving of 100 tons of beef and 33 tons of bacon. “If we could only have such restrictions in private homes,” someone says, Perhaps we could, but what a system of spying it would require to keep the law enforced. The plan of the Food Controller in asking private households to voluntarily give up beef and bacon for two days a week not only

savors less of German methods but is less expensive and more practical—so long as Canadian households will make the sacrifice voluntarily.

THAT there is need of saving meat for the army, every intelligent person knows. With the long hours, and strain and exposure of army life, soldiers require meat in quantities that would be even injurious to people in normal life. England’s normal consumption before the war was about 25 pounds of beef and 33 pounds of bacon per capita per year, or, roughtly speaking, a little over one ounce of beef and slightly less than one and a half ounces of bacon per day. Now the regulation army allowance is one pound of beef and one-quarter pound of bacon per soldier per day. Also the herds of cattle in both England and France have been seriously depleted. During the first year of the war France was forced to slaughter 21,300,000 cattle. Germany is more fortunate as she has not suffered invasion, she has the herds of the occupied parts of Belgium and France, and she has recently ordered Holland to send through the whole of her livestock. Holland has only one alternative, to do as Germany says or have her country overrun.

Even more important than beef for the army is bacon. Bacon for army rations means not only the thin, crisp strips or the back bacon considered a breakfast staple in many homes, but the entire dressed hog, and there are so many reasons why it is worth even more than beef as an army food that the conscientious household might well go farther than two baconless days a week. The small amount of bone means economy in shipping space, the meat can be cured to ensure quality when it reaches the men, there is more vital heat and energy concentrated in a pound of bacon than in a pound of beef, and the fat of bacon is especially needed by men working or fighting in the open air. in a cold wet climate. There are other meats to be used at home. Veal, lamb and mutton are not authorized for army rations. Poultry and eggs will be left for home consumption. The fish supply in Canada is being increased steadily to meet the market demands; but while we eat approximately 128 pounds of beef and pork per capita per annum, our normal consumption of fish is only 29 lbs. By eating twice as much fish we could send overseas 115,000 tons of pork and beef. Further, the woman

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Voluntary Rationing at Home

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who cares to study the real nutritive and health value of certain of our home grown vegetable foods will find that she can cut down her usual meat supply considerably and still keep her family well fed. The price of bacon, of course, automatically regulates its consumption in homes of moderate income, but whether we can afford it or not, when we know that the allied armies are thirtythree million hogs short, and that the entire hog population of Canada at the present time is only 3,500,000, it is not unreasonable to suppose that there will be a few homes where not only “bacon” will be banned (except in case of illness or other emergency), but where ham, pork roasts, chops, anything in the shape of pork except the tenderloin, liver, heart, or head will be given up for the duration of the war.

“But,” someone says, “this is the most short-sighted kind of economy. Any drastic cutting out of the fat in the diet is going to react directly on the children. A child of five years should have half as much fat as a full grown man, and to limit this is to invite some more or less serious result of malnutrition. Bacon is the most wholesome fat we have, next to butter, and the price of butter is beyond the means of many families in Canadian cities.” This is one of the sanest objections we have to saving food for the army—the possible danger of underfeeding the children at home. Fortunately, so far as fats are concerned the outlook is brighter now than it has been since the war began. With the permission of the sale of margarine in Canada, we are going to have an available supply of one of the most wholesome fats at a cost within the reach of everyone, or at least of many who never hope to see butter from one month’s end to another.

There still seems to be a little prejudice against margarine in some communities, even though the best food authorities say that there is no physiological or sanitary reason why it should not be used. It is made largely from beef fat, usually being a by-product in the making of canned meats where the fat cannot be used and is cut off. The fat is rendered and the temperature gradually lowered until the stearine, or hard fat, crystallizes, because it hardens first. The softer fats are left, and by chilling in certain ways they take on the granular texture of butter. Sometimes the fat is churned with buttermilk or a culture is added to give the butter flavor. In homes where butter will still be used on the table, margarine will make a wholesome good flavored substitute in cooking. As a shortening it gives the same flavor and texture as butter.

FOR the first few months of the food administration we were asked to go on voluntary rations to the end of saving wheat, beef and bacon. Late in the summer events occurred which made it necessary to add sugar to the list. The British Government had bought Java’s entire sugar crop, an order of 100,000 tons. Submarines sank the whole of it. Immediately one hundred thousand tons of raw sugar had to be taken from the United States and Canada and sent to England and France. The temporary famine might have caused a panic among the refiners, a buying up and hoarding

of the whole available supply and an unreasonable rise in prices, if the market had not been placed at once in the hands of an International Sugar Buying Committee. As refiners can buy only through the Committee, the supply can be distributed fairly and no dealer of an over-enterprising business turn can take advantage of the shortage to boost the price. The Committee have set the price of raw sugar not above 5% cents a pound.

There is no doubt that sugar is scarce in Canada and that it will be scarcer before the new crop comes in, which will be early in January. After that there should be an abundant supply as the crop promises to be unusually good. Perhaps, however, the temporary inconvenience may do some good in teaching us a more careful use of sugar as a food rather than an indulgence of the appetite; we may have overcome its excessive use in candies, cake icings, and over sweet desserts; we may have learned that while sugar is a natural food for children it will not build one cell of bone or muscle, and should not be taken until the end of the meal when the appetite has been satisfied by wholesome building foods. For even when the regulation that allows us to buy only two pounds of sugar at a time is removed, it will become us to still remember that while the average Canadian consumes seven pounds of sugar per month, France has only one pound per person per month. Our soldiers, too, want sugar, not just because it is a quick source of energy, but because the soldier’s diet is absolutely devoid of frills or variety. If there is any prodigality when the restrictions are lifted it should be in the way of sugar for soldiers’ boxes. In the meantime, if the famine should tighten seriously before the new crop comes in, let us remember that the children need sweets most, and to see that the sugar element is supplied in the way of corn syrup, honey, yes, and even black molas-

ses. You remember how fond of that you were years ago. It is possible that the child of a decade later, with all his indulged tastes, may like it just as well.

THROUGH the whole scheme to save staple foods for the army we have not once been asked to eat less, but we have repeatedly been asked to eat substitutes, especially such perishable foods as could not be exported. It would be difficult to estimate just how much staple food has been released for export on account of the large quantities of vegetables grown in last year’s war gardens. The housekeeper who went farther than this and canned all the surplus vegetables of varieties which could not be stored has added just so much more to the nation’s food supply. It would seem as though this year we might be ready to extend the work by more co-operative canning. A Women’s Institute in the town of Parkhill, Ontario, this summer established a canning centre where they have already canned about $5,000 worth of vegetables, fruit, and chicken for the military hospitals in Great Britain. Occasionally they have a “community day,” when they bring their own fruit or vegetables to the canning centre and get their home canning done in the best and quickest way. It is an idea worth spreading.

So it is an easy restriction, but a big responsibility, this voluntary food saving in private homes. It is a system capable of achieving amazing results, but it will require the co-operation of every household in the land. The Food Controller counts on the co-operation of the women. “In fact,” he has said, “they have told me they would co-operate with me if I would do what they want me to.” Now since the thing that troubled most women has been removed by the Order in Council stating that “no grain of any kind and no substance that can be used for food shall be used for the distillation of potable liquors,” it seems hopeful that any Canadian woman, knowing the need as it is, will not hesitate in the matter of food saving—even without a condition.

Tested War Time Recipes

HEALTH BREAD 3 cups bran 1 Vj cups graham flour 1 cup white flour % cup molasses Vi. teaspoon baking soda. 1 teaspoon baking-powder

Sift together the dry ingredients. Beat .in the milk and molasses, pour into greased pans and let stand twenty minutes before baking. Bake in a slow oven. Chopped dates or raisins may be added.

SCOTCH SCONES 1 cup fino oatmeal % cup »cabled milk 2 tablespoon« shortening i teaspoons baking-powder 1 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons sugar

Pour hot milk over oatmeal, mix well, add shortening and let stand until cold. Mix and sift flour, baking-powder, salt and sugar; add to oatmeal and milk and mix well. Roll out three-fourths of an inch thick, cut in rounds and cook on a greased griddle for about twenty minutes, turning when half cooked.


2 cups barley meal 1 cup graham flour 1 cup white flour 2 tablespoons sugar 1 teaspoon salt 6 teaspoons baking-powder 2 cups milk.

Sift dry ingredients together, mix well with the milk, turn into a greased pan, let stand fifteen minutes and bake in a moderate oven for about fifty minutes. Raisins, dates or nuts may be added.


V\ cup shortening Vi cup sugar 1 cup milk and water mixed V4 cup seeded raisins 2cup« flour 5 teaspoons baking powder *4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons sugar (to sprinkle over the top) 1 teaspoon cinnamon Cream the shortening and sugar. Add egg well beaten, milk, raisins, flour, baking powder and salt. Spread in a greased shallow pan, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Bake in a hot oven fifteen to twenty minutes. This is delicious cut in thick slices, toasted and buttered for afternoon tea.

CORN BREAD rup eornfUcal cup flour 2 tablespoons sugar *•} teaspoon salt ■V| teaspoon soda

1% cups buttermilk or sour milk.

Mix and sift dry ingredients, add buttermilk gradually, and beat well. Pour into a greased shallow pan and bake in a hot oven for about twenty minutes.

POTATO SCONES 2 cups flour teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons baking powder

1 cup mashed potato

2 tablespoons shortening \ cup milk

Sift flour, salt and baking-powder. Add potato and shortening, and work in with the finger tips. Add milk and mix to a soft dough with a knife. Roll out three-quarters of an inch thick, cut in rounds and cook on a greased griddle for about twenty minutes, turning when half cooked.

BAKED BEANS 1 quart white beans 1 onion

1 level tablespoon salt l teaspoon dry mustard *4 teaspoon soda Vi cup sugar

4 tablespoons butter or dripping.

Soak beans over night in cold water to which a teaspoon of baking soda has been added. Drain, rinse, cover with cold water, heat to boiling and simmer until beans are tender hut not broken. Place in an earthen bean-pot. pour on boiling water, cover closely and bake slowly for about eight hours. Uncover for the last

hour. Replenish with water as needed. If you do not use a coal range, and find gas too expensive for the long cooking required for baked beans, set the bean pot on the ledge of the furnace, protecting it from the direct heat from the coals by a piece of asbestos, and turn about every hour.

CORN MUKITNS 1 cup cornmeal

1 tfnspoons baking powder *,*/ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup milk, or milk and water mixed.

1 beaten egg

4 tablespoons melted shortening.

Mix ingredients in the order given, beat well, pour into hot greased gem pans and bake in a hot oven for about twenty minutes.


1 cup bran 1 cup white flour V, cup sugar 1 teaspoon salt I teaspoons baking-powder 1 cup milk

1 tablespoon melted shortening

Mix and sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add sugar, milk, egg well beaten and melted shortening. Bake in greased gem pans in a hot oven.

CREAMED COD 2 cups cooked cod.

Cream sauce :

1 cups skim milk 1 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoons flour 1 teaspoon salt cayenne

chopped parsley onion juice

Arrange alternate layers of flaked fish and sauce in baking dish. Cover with buttered crumbs and brown in oven.