War and Postwar Food

War and Post War Food

The previous blog looked at Depression recipes, and recipes of the 1930s have similarities to recipes of the war years. Inexpensive cuts of meat and other ingredients, limited amounts of sugar, eggs and cream are some of the commonalities of both wartime and depression recipes.

We have included several blogs over the years related to Remembrance Day. A popular one has been “Canadian Stew and War Cake”: https://bcfoodhistory.ca/canadian-stew-and-war-cake/ .

You can find recipes in this earlier blog and at least one reader commented that she planned to bake a Canadian War Cake on Remembrance Day. Several recipes for Canadian War Cake were shared in another blog: https://bcfoodhistory.ca/canadian-cake-for-the-troops/

We have looked at “Food from Home to the War Front”:  https://bcfoodhistory.ca/food-from-home-to-the-war-front/ This blog included a special 1917 letter home from the war front.

We referenced Recipes for Victory by Baird and Wranich: https://bcfoodhistory.ca/recipes-for-victory/.

We looked at the marketing of apples during wartime: https://bcfoodhistory.ca/apples-and-patriotism/  and the rationing of meat in World War II: https://bcfoodhistory.ca/meat-rationing-ww-ii/

There are many recent sources of information about wartime food, both books and websites.

https://wartimecanada.ca/archive-categories/recipes  is an archive of items from WWI and WWII. Its goal is to encourage primary document research and in the website sections on “shopping” and “eating” a reader can find an extensive collection of documents to useful in food research. There are Christmas menus from both wars, food ration coupons, and an array of recipe books that focus on low sugar cooking and home preserving and canning. There are books of advice such as “Budgeting for the Soldier’s Family” (Canadian Welfare Council, 1943) and “How to Live in Wartime” (National Service Board, Ottawa, 1917). Some British Columbia books are included such as the Navy League Chapter I.O.E.D. Victory Cookbook, 1941 and several BC Electric Home Service Department newsletters that address food shortages and rationing.

Wartime recipe books can also be accessed as part of the Newman Western Canadian Cookbook Collection: https://ufv.arcabc.ca/islandora/search/%2A193%2A?type=edismax&cp=ufv%3Acookbook

Recent books about wartime food that reach beyond British Columbia and speak to the significance and meanings of food in our lives include:

Hunger, how food shaped the course of the First World War by Rick Blom, 2019.

The Taste of Longing, Ethel Mulvany and her starving prisoners of war cookbook by Susan Evans, 2020. See a review: https://bcfoodhistory.ca/ethel-mulvany-changi-prisoner-of-war-cookbook/

Cover - BC Electric Home Service Mews June 1946

By 1946, the war had ended but habits of thrift and economy had become a way of life and the availability of foods did not return to previous levels immediately. BC Electric’s Home Service Department encouraged a new “duty” — to can as much as possible.  “The foods that are put up from the garden are helping this nation to provide for the starving people of Europe”.

The June 1946 Home Service Department newsletter was full of recipes for jams, marmalade, pickles, conserves, and canned fruit.



page 2 BC Electric Home Service News

page 4 BC Electric Home Service News


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2 Responses to War and Postwar Food

  1. Diane O'Shea November 9, 2021 at 4:53 pm #

    I was revisiting some of the websites Linda explained in her blog post. As a Food and Nutrition teacher I thought Remembrance Day was an excellent opportunity to incorporate war time recipes into our classes and messages around thrift and other related topics. When I read about the apple ambassadors, the article made me wonder about Dairy Princesses and their role as ambassadors for milk. I know that to be a Dairy Princess was a coveted prize for many years – certainly times have changed. Always enjoy your posts – thank you!

    • Linda Peterat November 25, 2021 at 3:27 pm #

      Thank you Diane. I checked K. Jane Watt’s book (2000). Milk Stories, A History of the Dairy Industry in British Columbia 1827-2000, to search for any reference to dairy princesses in BC and found none. She states that in the early 1960s, most players in the dairy industry began working together to increase milk sales through consumer education. Different areas of the province created milk foundations that evolved into today’s BC Dairy Foundation. They employed nutritionists and home economists to develop educational materials and provide programming through schools and public events but it doesn’t appear that “princesses” have been part of their marketing strategies. Other BC readers and residents may recall if there were ever dairy princesses?

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