My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK, Sunday—The food situation in Europe presents a somewhat varied picture. Denmark is one country which is well off today, as far as food is concerned, and which can export food to other countries. Sweden is also probably fairly well off. Belgium did not suffer as much destruction and is coming back fast, as is Czechoslovakia for the same reason. In the other countries of Europe, including Russia, the people's diet is very low.

I have just received a very comprehensive statement on the situation in Great Britain. I think it will be enlightening to all of us, since Great Britain, in spite of war restrictions, has been able to help others. For instance, she takes several hundred Dutch children every month and keeps them for a three-month period, sending them back in much better health and with a complete new outfit of clothing!

One story about these children will illustrate the kind of thing which it is so hard for us here to realize. The woman in charge of outfitting the children was surprised to find that they took shoes two sizes bigger than would be normal for the size of their clothes. Their shoes also wore out twice as fast as shoes worn by British children. She brought an orthopaedic surgeon and an X-ray machine to the camp and found what two previous health examinations had not disclosed—namely, that the children's feet were without bones, containing just gristle. Their feet therefore spread and dragged as they walked. This in turn made them shuffle along and wear their shoes out. Given extra calcium and better food, the bone deficiency was largely remedied before the children's return to Holland.

Now, what do British food restrictions mean? Here is what in February one adult person received for one week on her ration card: Bacon—3 oz.; butter—2 oz. one week and 4 oz. the next, alternating with similar amounts of margarine; cheese—3 oz. per week; cooking fats—2 oz.; eggs (fresh)—1 per month; eggs (dried)—none since the ending of lend-lease; meat—23¢ worth per week; milk (fresh)—2 pts. per week; milk (dried)—8 oz. per week; preserves—1 lb. per month; tea—2½ oz. (over 70 years old, 3 oz.); candy—3/4 lb. per month; fresh fish—very inadequate supply.

One person alone might buy the following with the month's supply of 24 points: ½ lb. sultanas (4 points); 1-lb. tin of syrup (8 points); ½ lb. sweet biscuits (2 points); 1 packet cereal (2 points); 1 tin meat & vegetables (6 points). Extra food for children: From 6 months to two years old—3 eggs per week. From two to five years old—luck if they get eggs, especially in a town. Under five years old—1 pint of milk per day and 1 egg per week, when available. From five to 17 years—½ pint of milk per day. Welfare foods—cod liver oil and orange juice are available for children under five for supplementary diet purposes. Adolescents in factories get cocoa.

Any housewife will realize that while this list gives a fairly well-balanced diet, it does not provide much variety. Since potatoes are the only thing which everyone is urged to eat in large quantities, you often get them served in different ways twice during the same meal. The diet tends to be fattening because of so much starchy food. I cannot say that I was ever really hungry in England, but I did not find it a very interesting diet. One becomes very food conscious, too, and one talks and thinks more about food though one enjoys it less.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 11, 1946

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.