by Georgina Reidy
[photo US Navy via Wikimedia Commons]
[published: April 10, 2012 (10:45AM AST)]
I recently had my seventieth birthday and a friend gave me one of those birthday cards, containing a short DVD of world events in the year you are born.
Obviously I was born in 1942, and at the time my parents’ home was in the East End of London. I sat down to watch the DVD and after twenty minutes or so of looking at newsreels of World War 2, started to wonder when some other topic would be broached. I t never did. With hindsight I realised that for the first three years of my life I lived in a city that was at war and was the target of constant bombing. Surviving the war was all there was.
At the age of three (at wars end) and until now, I had and have no memory of that period in my life. I have no doubt that it had long term after effects especially the time up to my tenth birthday as some foods were still rationed in 1952.
All this is a preamble, to something I read, concerning how we are shaped in our early years of life. I remember only two points in the article.
1. The Sea Level you are born at and spend the early years of your life at, are the optimum place for you to live.
London is at sea level and I now live 900m above sea level. Since coming to live here I have had constant Eustachian tube problems, which, the doctor informed me, was due to my living at 900m and travelling up and down to the nearest town which is at 600m. I don’t have any problems in Melbourne, which is at sea level.
2. The diet that you have in your early years is the optimum diet to follow for the rest of your life. Which means I should be eating the foods of war time London.
I did some research on the internet and interestingly there appears to be a move in the UK to deal with current childhood obesity by putting the children on a WW2 diet!
This seems to have resulted in a number of books being published about war time rationing, including lots of recipes from that time.
I must say, in all my childhood I only knew one child who might reasonably be called overweight but in fact chubby would be a better word to describe them than fat.
Meat, fats and sugar were the main foods rationed. Vegetables appeared to be reasonably available, and there was a national loaf which sounds a lot like our present day wholemeal loaves. It has been well documented over the years that the British were healthier after the war than they were before.
I have purchased a couple of the books now available and I must say a lot of the recipes sound quite unpalatable. But it doesn’t take long to realise that many of the recipes could be improved with a little garlic, lemon, spices, olive oil etc.
The hard one is the loss of sugar and fats in any quantity.
Niall and I have decided to try out the rationing idea to give us some idea of what may, in the future, be reality. It would also give me more of an idea of those food items that I need to either grow or stock up on. I have no idea what goes into curry pastes (which I use) so I guess I need to find out and see if I can grow them here.
I could get myself some geese and use goose fat. Now I really will have to get myself some beehives for honey. Could I grow a tea bush? Definitely could not grow coffee here. Maybe I will start with black tea with lemon and honey and move onto herbal teas.
Changing ones diet, indeed changing a lifetime of indulgence, will not be easy if collapse occurs within say a week. Building up to a more frugal diet would seem to me to be the sensible thing to do. It would give time for a more thoughtful approach to cooking and preparing meals, not to mention the planning of ones garden for future meals.
For myself I intend to revert to my childhood diet of plain food. It will, no doubt, be given a twist of a little something extra.
PS Any good ideas from all of you out there would be more than welcome.