In 1946, President Truman’s Famine Emergency Committee issued a list of 39 ways in which American’s could save food, thus enabling resources (especially wheat) to be diverted to assist post-war Europe.
I can think of a number of reasons why some of these suggestions are valid today, so I thought it might be interesting to look at them with modern eyes. Many of the suggestions involve reducing waste – something which should be a perennial hot topic. Some involve relatively painless changes to portion size – which might be helpful to the bottom line in a restaurant as well as the line of the bottom in all of us. Most will surely offer some general health benefits - replacing pastries with fruit, avoiding frying foods, and taking thinner slices of bread, for example. The suggestion to eat seasonal food too, is thoroughly modern advice.
1. Discontinue during the emergency abroad the use of toast as a garniture with meat, poultry, egg, and other entrees.
2. Discontinue the practice of placing baskets of rolls and bread on dining room tables. A single roll or slice of bread should be served with the entrée, and later as requested.
3. Eliminate the custom of trimming toast and sandwich crust.
4. Substitute open sandwiches for many closed or two-bread slice sandwiches in hotels.
5. Use potatoes in place of certain wheat and rice garnitures.
6. Use single crust or open pies in place of two-crust pies whenever practicable.
7. Serve corn and buckwheat cakes in place of wheat cakes where possible.
8. Serve oatmeal, bread, cakes, and cookies as alternatives for products made from wheat.
9. The size of rolls and thickness of toast and bread should be reduced. Bread size could be reduced by not filling the pans as deeply as at present.
10. Substitute fruits and other desserts for pastries and cakes whenever practicable.
11. Limit the number of crackers in individual packages or served with soups, cheeses, and so forth.
12. Eliminate three-layer cakes.
13. Whenever possible induce customers to only order what is needed. Whenever side dishes are included in the meal, the customer should request those side dishes and salads he will eat.
14. Use boiled dressings instead of oil dressings on salads where possible.
15. Use alternates for wheat cereal wherever possible.
16. Encourage re-use of food fats and grease salvage.
17. Develop methods for saving and use of bread ends, many of which are wasted at the present time.
18. Carry back all economies to employees’ meals. Employees should cooperate to the same extent customers are asked to cooperate.
19. Boil or broil rather than fry fish so as to save fats.
20. Eliminate serving of extra dressings on salads already prepared with oil or dressing.
Recommendations for the baking industry follow.
1. (21) Reduce by at least 10 per cent the weight of bread and bakery products.
2. (22) Wherever practicable, bakers should feature smaller weight and size loaves.
3. (23) Bread should be sliced thinner to provide more slices per loaf.
4. (24) Partial loaves of bread should be offered for sale as a waste preventing measure.
5. (25) Save flour and fats and oils by avoiding spoilage and waste.
Recommendations to food distributors and manufacturers were:
1. (26) Promote the use of alternate and more plentiful foods in the diet, such as – currently – potatoes, fish, eggs, poultry, citrus fruits, and seasonal vegetables.
2. (27) Assist customers by providing recipes using the more plentiful foods.
3. (28) Adopt measures for greater conservation and prevention of waste in food distribution channels.
4. (29) Encourage customers to conserve and prevent waste of food and to re-use food fats and salvage waste fats.
5. (30) In the manufacture of food items use alternate ingredients whenever possible in lieu of ingredients in short supply.
Recommendations to consumers follow:
1. (31) Prevent waste of bread. It is estimated that 5 per cent or one slice out of every loaf baked every day goes into garbage.
2. (32) Use less bread at each meal. Use potatoes, for example, as alternates for bread. One small serving of potatoes replaces a slice of bread, nutritionally.
3. (33) Use less wheat cereals and other wheat products.
Suggested ways for saving fats and oils at home included:
1. (34) Make better use of meat drippings for cooking and seasoning food.
2. (35) Serve fewer fried foods.
3. (36) Save and re-use fats and oils for cooking purposes.
4. (37) Render excess fats on meats, and save bacon grease for cooking purposes.
5. (38) Salvage all fats that cannot be re-used, and turn them in to your butcher or grocer.
6. (39) Go easy on oils and salad dressings. A teaspoon of fat a day saved by every person in the United States will mean a total saving of at least one million pounds of fat daily.
The potential to help save a million pounds of fat a day is too great a mission to resist. I therefore give you a recipe for a boiled salad dressing from The Royal Baker and Pastry Cook, a promotional recipe book from a baking powder company, published in 1911.
3 beaten eggs, 1 cup rich milk, 2/3 teaspoon dry mustard, 2 teaspoons salt, 2 dashes cayenne, 2 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter, ½ cup vinegar. Cook in double boiler till thick as custard. Strain and keep in a cool place.
Quotation for the Day.
You can have your cake and eat it: the only trouble is you get fat.
Julian Patrick Barnes, Flaubert's Parrot, ch.7.