A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46



The investigation was carried out for the Ministry of Health. Its purpose was to find out how housewives prepare and cook vegetables.

In order to determine the extent to which these methods are inefficient, the Dunn Nutritional Laboratories (University of Cambridge and Medical Research Council) will reproduce them in the laboratory and estimate the loss of nutrients which results from their use.

The inquiry dealt with the following vegetables:-


Beans - runner and

Beans - French





Swedes, Turnips


The investigation covered the following points in the preparing and cooking of vegetables:

Preparing process

Are root vegetables peeled, scraped, cooked in skin.

What is done with the outer leaves of vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower.

Into what sizes are vegetables cut.

How long are vegetables steeped in water.

Cooking process

Are vegetables usually boiled, steamed or cooked in fat.

If vegetables are boiled, how much water is used.

Is a lid used.

Are vegetables put into hot or cold water.

For how long are vegetables cooked. (Answers to this question are only approximate, as many housewives did not know the exact time they cook vegetables).

Are vegetables cooked for more than one meal.

Is soda used for cooking green vegetables.

What use is made of vegetable water.

Field work was carried out by 24 trained interviewers between the 5th and 21st November, 1942.

2,576 urban and rural housewives were interviewed in three main areas - North, Midlands and East, and South. The sample included housewives of all ages, those with children and without, women who do housework only, and those who also go out to work. A detailed description of the sample is given in Appendix I page 16.

The results of the investigation are presented in six sections and four appendices.

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