The Ration Project is two fabulous, smart, funny ladies who have created a one-year adventure in living history. They have dedicated an entire year of their lives to eating ONLY the food rations that would have been available during World War II.
Here’s the rules:
- Each family participating in the project will be issued rations according to time, household size, and assigned location (U.S. or U.K.) and will purchase groceries for one year based on these provisions.
- Items commonly available locally and not subject to rationing (i.e. local fruits and vegetables in season) may be purchased throughout the year in small amounts and in quantity when in season. This includes additional fresh eggs for those with space and knowledge sufficient to raising backyard poultry.
- Each family member has the option to choose one “black market” item that they feel they cannot do without.
They discuss World War II grocery lists, menu plans, and recipes from the home fronts of Great Britain and the United States.
My favorite part of history has always been the everyday realities of people living in a different time. Perhaps that’s why I have been so interested in handcrafts and historical fashion my whole life. So hearing these ladies try to live within the challenges of rationing on what people would have eaten during the war is fascinating. They also open each episode with the historical context of the war. Essentially, each week of their lives, they live with whatever rations were available during one month of the war, and along the way, they infuse the discussions with fun anecdotes as well as profound musings of the realities of war on the home front.
Not only have I learned that rationing wasn’t necessarily about reducing the food people ate, but rather, making sure that everyone had enough to eat, but I have become fascinated with the other implications of rationing on everyday life.
One of my favorite anecdotes is due to the unavailability of nylon and silk for stockings, women used eyeliner to draw a line down the back of their legs to mimic the back seam of stockings. I have also read that this was done during the 1920s and 30s when the Great Depression made new stocking an unattainable luxury for many.
They also have “bonus rounds”, where they take on challenges for a week that reflect some of the things people would have dealt with on the home front, such as clothing/cloth rationing, growing your own Victory Gardens, and 1940’s home and beauty routines. I can’t wait to start my own Victory Garden this spring!
If you’re into history on the home front, I have a feeling you’ll be as addicted as I am.