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Sharing our knowledge to make our food dollars go further

Containing costs: grocery shopping has become a challenge to find nutritional value in these inflationary times (Photograph courtesy of pixabay.com)

Inflation is driving up the cost of everything at bewildering speed for our economy. Combating the direct hit to the family budget has become a necessary, frustrating everyday occurrence that may not economically recorrect for some time.

Is there more that can be done to manage costs that has not already been discussed? I think so!

So, for a start this week, dear readers, the Moneywise column is featuring something a bit different – a collaborative effort, a challenge from me to you (and your family) to share your diverse and wonderful ideas on how to keep a budget for your complete household under control in inflationary or any other times.

Anyone who would like to contribute frugal family stories on managing household finances in the face of adversity, such as your parents, grandparents, and other relatives, and your tips, stories, comments, articles, photos, videos, reminiscences, etc, on food, homemade, recycling, reusing anything, is invited to participate. You can include your name, or request to remain anonymous.

These generation-honed survival skills in informational narratives – with your consent – will featured in the Moneywise column, added to the Bermuda Islander Survivalist Handbook that I initiated during Covid as on ongoing project (and which will be published later in 2023) and in my new Martha Myron’s Bermy (Bermuda) Island Finance Blog launched today, http://marthamyron.com/bermuda-finance-blog

I was reminded of these Bermuda islanders everyday challenges to contain costs and find reasonably-priced nutritiously viable foods that are also utility-cost efficient to prepare – when researching food rationing during the Second World War.

In 1939 as war approached, the UK government, with more than 30 per cent of food imported from elsewhere and the very real fear of German destruction of merchant ships, along with having to supply the nation’s soldiers first, implemented nationwide food rationing along with gasoline, clothing and many other categories. Much of the food supplies were co-opted to feed fighting troops.

A week’s individual food ration card consisted of the below items, further one was not allowed seconds:

1 egg

2 ounces of tea

2 ounces of butter

1 ounce of cheese

8 ounces of sugar

4 ounces of bacon

4 ounces of margarine

An egg was a precious gift, while meat was, at times, almost non-existent. Country people were better off, with access to home gardens, farms that raised livestock for meat, eggs and milk.

The UK “Dig for Victory” patriotic mantra encouraged Britons, where possible, to plant a home garden.

The “Make Do and Mend” slogan emphasising self-sufficiency, repairing, reconstructing, recycling anything and everything: clothes, furniture, home repairs, shoes, etc, was an absolute necessity. Many basic items were in extremely short supply as factories had been turned into making armament, aircraft, and other support supplies for the defending army, air force, and navy.

Photographs and narratives of that time depict thin people – almost no one was battling weight-gain – but overall health was actually quite good.

The United States also rationed: automobiles, tyres, gasoline, fuel oil, coal, firewood, nylon, silk, and shoes. Americans used their ration cards and stamps to take their meagre share of household staples including meat, dairy, coffee, dried fruits, jams, jellies, lard, shortening, and oils.

Americans coped again as they learnt during the Great Depression, to do without. Sacrificing certain items during the war affected almost every American household.

Bermuda also implemented rationing during the Second World War. Perusing the Bermuda’s Best Recipes cookbook, originally published in 1934 by the Warwick Parish Committee and still available second-hand online, scarcity was apparent. Some recipes only had two ingredients, no eggs and quite obviously, nothing was wasted.

Bermuda’s households today are experiencing rationing again, due to rising grocery and household costs. The food choices are there, but unlike the severe scarcity in the Second World War, families now are realising that they can afford only basic necessities.

Three basic thoughts on managing a food budget for today:

•Food nutritional quality

•Food consumption – compare calories to labour

•Food waste – what are we throwing away (see the superb YouTube recycling food – video Five Minute Crafts Food, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5y2b2F7exY

Are you getting your “foodsworth”? Should you be more selective about the food you buy?

The entire giant food product line today revolves around expediency, efficiency, artificial ingredients, over-processing, taste sensation-focus and time sensitivity. What tastes good does not mean it has real food nutritional quality.

I just cannot forget the 20-year-old in the UK who passed away in 2007 from cirrhosis of the liver due to malnutrition, only eating chips, white bread, and sometimes tinned beans.

Most people are nowhere that food rigid. Let’s compare two food choices: potatoes and rolled oats. Note this free nutrition comparison under the Tools tab on the My Food Data website (https://www.myfooddata.com/).

Compare same 200-calorie serving of potatoes versus potato chips:

Protein = 2x as much as chips

Fibre = 3x as much as chips

Vitamins = significantly more in potato

Fibre = far more than chips

Fat = monounsaturated 5mg – potato compared to 5,335mg for chips

Fat = polyunsaturated 99mg – potato compared to 4,434mg for chips

Difference in price comparison for potato versus same weight potato chips – you know the local difference here as each grocery store lists different prices.

Old fashioned rolled oats versus Post granola in one-half cup serving:

Granola = 2x calories to oats

Granola = 3x fat calories of oats

Granola = protein similar to oats

Granola = 12x more sugar than oats

Granola = 3.5x more monosaturated fats compared to oats

Granola = 2.5x more polyunsaturated fats compared to oats

That’s the nutrition compared, but what about those additives listed on packaged granola? Any one or more of 31 additives listed here, https://world.openfoodfacts.org/brand/granola/additives, may be added to the final granola product.

It is also true, not always, that every single time a food or other product is handled, repackaged, recooked, transported, the nutritional value may be reduced and the cost to the consumer goes up. See here. https://www.nutrition.gov/topics/shopping-cooking-and-meal-planning/food-labels

Readers, to be continued – so much more to discuss and share on Beating Food Inflation in Bermuda, please share your stories and comments.

Martha Harris Myron is a native Bermudian, author of the Bermy Island Finance Blog http://marthamyron.com/bermuda-finance-blog and The Dawn of New Beginnings: Bermuda’s First Financial Literacy Primer. Contact martha@pondstraddler.com or http://marthamyron.com/contact

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Published July 16, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated July 18, 2022 at 8:10 am)

Sharing our knowledge to make our food dollars go further

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