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Wartime food rations a healthy move

Researcher Helen McMonagle talks to Tivoli resident Doris Lawson about how rationing influenced society during the Second World War. Inset: A clothing ration card.
Researcher Helen McMonagle talks to Tivoli resident Doris Lawson about how rationing influenced society during the Second World War. Inset: A clothing ration card. Rob Williams

WHEN food rationing was imposed on Australians during the Second World War, it had an unexpected effect.

Diet-related problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease actually declined.

As people consumed less butter, sugar and meat, health on the home front improved.

Tivoli senior Doris Lawson remembers needing coupons for clothing, fuel, sugar, butter, tea and meat.

"People had chooks, and you had your own eggs," Ms Lawson said.

"We grew our own vegetables to some extent.

"After a while we got used to it. I think in the beginning we were frightened of (coupons) because we thought, 'if we run out, what do we do?'

"I don't think people went without - it taught us not to have so much sugar in our tea and stuff like that.

"The war was on, and we were just hoping the war would finish soon."

Mrs Lawson married in 1945, at the age of 21.

"We got those little coupons and you had to hand them in. I think you'd get about a half a pound of butter for one coupon.

"At one stage I was pregnant and I got an extra allocation of clothing."

Researcher Helen McMonagle is interviewing Ipswich people as part of a thesis on the social effects of rationing from 1942-50.

"Technically it was to help the Allies, to ensure there were enough supplies," Ms McMonagle said.

"The people in Britain were doing it tough."

Ms McMonagle, a recipient of Ipswich City Council's Local History Scholarship, is keen to interview more men and women. "I'm also looking at business experiences with rationing, not just that of civilians - how cafes survived, how people got their products," she said.

Phone her on 0407 143 874 for details.

RATION PACKAGE

To aid the war effort, rationing of essential commodities such as food, clothing, rubber and petrol was instituted in all Allied countries early in the Second World War.

It became patriotic to "go without" luxuries.

Topics:  diet health second world war



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