Ms Panagakos, Food and Rationing during WWII, Canadian History

Feeling hungry? Hungry for knowledge?! No? What about a cheeseburger and fries? Or maybe some hummus and toasted pita breads? What about a nice mocha latte, 1% skim with whip and shaved chocolate in a tall mug?

Now what if you were living in Canada between the dates of September 1st 1939 and September 2nd 1945?

Food and Rationing Assignment
Due Date: ____________________

Get all of the questions from the button below! : )

Resources for the Assignment

1. All of what you need to complete the assignment sheet is on this tackk board. In buttons, films, audio clips and more. Look at all of them!
2. Be sure to answer the question. Jot notes are acceptable, but make sure they are clear!
3. Have fun. Look around and explore.

(Video One) This is an American ration clip, from the International Food & Wine Society America.

(Video Two) A clip showing some of the different foods eaten in WWII Canada.

Food on the Home Front during the Second World War

"Canada has determined to change the eating habits of a nation, because she has learned that efficient production of food is only half the victory. It takes efficient consumption, too, to give full meaning to the slogan, ‘Food will win the war."

Food was central to Canadians’ experiences on the home front during the Second World War. This was partly because, as the above quote suggests, the federal government took a series of unprecedented steps aimed at transforming Canadians’ diets. The ubiquitous ration book would ultimately become the most vivid and lasting symbol of these efforts – but rationing was just one part of a much larger set of state interventions into Canada’s kitchens. These included a concerted propaganda campaign to promote certain ‘patriotic’ foods, the wartime launch of an unprecedented national nutrition campaign, and the introduction of literally thousands of individual controls on the price, production, and distribution of everyday foods.

At the heart of the many of the government’s wartime food policies was the need to feed Canada’s overseas allies and soldiers. As Canadians were regularly reminded by propagandists and advertisers alike, food truly was a “weapon of war.” Particularly after the fall of France in June 1940, Canadian food exports provided an essential lifeline to Britain. By the end of the war, it was estimated that Canadian exports accounted for 57 per cent of British wheat and flour consumption – down from its 1941 peak of 77 per cent – as well as 39 per cent of bacon, 15 per cent of eggs, 24 per cent of cheese, and 11 per cent of evaporated milk consumed in Britain. Much of this was achieved through major state intervention on Canadian farms. Between 1940 and 1943, the wheat acreage in the Prairie provinces was reduced by 42 percent through a combination of subsidies, price guarantees, and other controls. Areas sown for agricultural products needed to meet gaps in Canada’s domestic and export requirements like feed grains, on the other hand, increased by 72 percent, flaxseed by 800 percent, and hog marketings by 250 percent over the prewar period.

Early in the war, Canadians were asked to contribute voluntarily to Canada’s food export commitments by avoiding foods that were needed in Britain and by consuming more Canadian foods whose European export markets had disappeared and were, therefore, threatening farmers and fishermen with massive unused surpluses. Apples and lobster were two of the earliest foods to be rebranded as “patriotic” after the export markets for both products collapsed. In December 1939, for instance, the Department of Agriculture began running glossy advertisements with the message: “Serve apples daily and you serve your country too.” Magazines such as Canadian Home Journal repeated such messages by publishing articles with titles like “It’s Patriotic and Pleasant to Eat Canadian Lobster” and which included recipes for patriotic dishes like Lobster Cocktail, Lobster à la King, and Lobster Sandwiches.


(Picture One) A sign in a store front listing rationed foods.
(Picture Two) American WWII - Washington D.C. War Food Administration Poster

Wainwright Star, 03 March 1943, Page 2, Item Ar00203

(News Aticle One) Wainwright Star, 03 March 1943, Page 2, Item Ar00203