All text copyright Stephen Coates 2006 - 2015


There has been a lot in the papers recently about how much food we waste.  Vast quantities are dumped daily by supermarkets, food chains and restaurants and apparently the average family (whatever that is) regularly discards up to six meals a week, throwing away around £700 a year.  

You can make an album for £700.

I am a culprit myself although if absorbed in work, I don't leave the house for days and end up eating absolutely everything - including those weird pickled cherries that aunts give you at Christmas.

But it wasn't always this way.  During the war years it was illegal to waste food.  I was reading the other day about a woman in Barnet who was arrested and  prosecuted for putting out bread crumbs for the birds in her gardenCrumbs.  

The men from the ministry could come and inspect your bins - and your kitchen cupboards, checking for black market contraband.  Mind you, given what you were allowed to eat under rationing, probably not much was voluntarily wasted anyway and it is perhaps understandable that people would do whatever they could to get a bit extra.  For an adult: 4 ounces of bacon, 2 ounces of butter, 2 ounces of tea, 2 ounces of cheese etc. per week. Per week! (I probably absent-mindedly just ate 2 ounces of cheese whilst reading the paper).  There was no ice-cream.

It must have been an extraordinarily tough time - but quite nice in some ways: there were pigs and sheep grazing in Hyde Park and Green Park, allotments everywhere.  You were allowed, even encouraged, to keep chickens.  Even the king and queen had ration books ("Any pate de foie gras this week?" "No Ma'am, sorry").   The Upper Norwood Rabbit Club" held talks on which breed were most suitable for 'the production of flesh and fur'..

But loo paper was in very short supply.

Right, what's for lunch?


Kari Mathias said...

When I look back at the history of the world, I'm absolutely amazed by what I take for granted.

I was thinking about this a lot as I was gardening with my parents this summer. There was something so satisfying about being that self-sufficient, even though a garden is a comparatively small sacrifice to make.

Ever since we started the project, I've been wondering if it might be good for all of us to go back to our roots a little more. There are so many things that I don't need to do for myself - I don't need to grow my own food or make my own clothes, but I wonder sometimes if I would be happier if I had to work harder for the small things. Maybe it would make working towards the big things easier.

These are just my late-night thoughts. Sorry if they're a bit disjointed.

clerkenwell kid said...

Well I agree, although I am much better at sitting in the garden than actually doing any gardening. There is no doubt about it that being involved in the process makes you value the product more.

My grandmother re-used almost everything. She tied supermarket bags into little nots, never bought bin liners.