Weaponizing Food: The World War II Diet That Saved Britain

Neil Theasby, CC BY-SA 2.0

As Hitler planned to starve the Brits to death, one man was given total power to design their menu. It produced the healthiest generation in history and has lessons for today.

Sept 8, 2019

The Daily Beast – When the British went to war exactly 80 years ago, they swiftly lost the individual freedom to make fundamental choices over the way they lived.

Freedom of travel, freedom to choose work, freedom to remain where they lived, freedom to choose a school for the kids, freedom to buy the clothes they wanted, even the freedom to decide how many books were printed, how many movies were made, and what kind of news could be reported and what could not—all gone.

That’s what being on a war footing meant. The state became all powerful.

In order to survive, we were told, individual choice was a luxury Britain could no longer afford.

And there was one other curtailment of individual choice that touched every home in the land: what people could eat.

In war, Britain’s position as an offshore island of Europe had an upside and a downside. The upside was that invasion by land was impossible.

The downside was that the population could not be fed from the island’s own resources.

Hitler understood that vulnerability. He set out to starve the British by sending swarms of submarines into the north Atlantic to wreak havoc on convoys bringing food from Canada and America.

In the decade before the war, Britain imported around 22 million tons of food a year, almost two-thirds of its food supply. During the war that was halved, to around 11.5 million tons.

But the British never starved. In fact, they ate the healthiest diet they had ever enjoyed.

This was made possible largely by the work of one man, a biochemist named Jack Drummond … Read more. 


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