EAT LIKE IT’S THE 1950S
Should our diets have a 50s makeover? There may be lessons to be learned from seven decades ago
Daily D Duty
In 1950, just 3% of the UUK population had a rrefrigerator, and by the eend of the decade this hhad only increased to 113% of homes. An iimportant part of the daily routine was therefore a trip to the greengrocer, butcher and other local shops, although milk (full fat) was delivered to the door. Family health benefitted from a diet of fresh, locally sourced food, without the artificial processes and additives that typify modern meals. There were environmental positives too, decades before the “carbon footprint” entered our everyday language.
Se easonal Specials
In n the days before freezers, our diets wwere much more seasonal, using ffoods harvested at the time of year intended i by nature, when they were t he richest in nutrients. In the modern daay, many of the fruits and vegetables on oour plate have been artificially grown out of season or harvested in other parts of the world, then shipped and stored in our local supermarket prior to purchase, so they have lost some of their nutritional value.
However, back in the 50s there were plenty of veggies and fruit to sustain us throughout the year – often selfgrown – with seasonal treats such as asparagus in late spring and strawberries in the summer. Foraging for blackberries to make pies, crumbles, jams and conserves was a late season ritual. Summer also delivered round lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes for salads, although dressing was restricted to Heinz Salad Cream – no calorieladen, exotic alternatives then.
Sugar Coating It
After rationing ceased, sugar returned much more widely to our diets in bakes, to sweeten our cuppas – which gradually started to move from loose tea to tea bags, introduced by Tetley in 1953 – and also eventually, e in the form of products p such as sugarcoated c cereals like FFrosties, launched in 1954. Although sugar consumption c increased by b 400% over the decade, d we had full awareness a that we were eating it, unlike the “hidden” refined carbohydrates in modern foods, which can impact our metabolism and cause weight gain.
When post-war rationing finally ended in June 1954 there was much to celebrate. Those restrictions in quantity, choice and availability meant that food was valued and nothing was left to waste, even when rationing ceased. We were generally far fitter than we are today. Young children, for example, had higher calcium and iron intakes through bread and milk consumption and far less sugar than their modern equivalents. Limiting unhealthy “nice to haves” in the cupboard and serving smaller portion sizes are good tactics to help return to the low 1950s obesity rate of only 1%.
Eggs, bacon, kippers,
Weetabix or porridge for breakfast, main meals of meat and two boiled veg (fish on a Friday) followed by a hearty pud with custard, plus lighter meals of pilchards,
“national” wholemeal bread and dripping… 50s housewives worked hard to produce varied and satisfying family meals. Theyey had limited ingredients and flavourings, no ready meals or modern kitchen conveniences, but meals, created with fresh food and comparatively fewer additives and preservatives, were generally healthier than today.
There were no sedentary lunches stuck at the desk, in the early e 50s, 60% of men returned home for their midday meal, perhaps liver or rabbit pie. Meals were cooked from scratch, s and eaten at the table. There were no “tv dinners”, unheard u of when only 20% of
1953 1 households could actually a boast of owning a television t set. This meant le ess Gogglebox- style snacking to oo, although snack options were w limited to flavour-free crisps c or a piece of fruit anyway. a
Eating out was only an occasional o treat. Teenagers were especially pleased when the first Wimpy Bars opened in 1954, offering hamburgers and milkshakes.