A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46



At the request of the Ministry of Food on investigation on vegetable consumption was carried out during the three autumn months of 1944 - October, November, and December, The inquiry was conducted in four towns: two in Yorkshire, Batley and Morley, and two in Wales, Neath and Llanelly.

The purpose of the survey was to collect material on the kinds, quantities, and prices of vegetables other than potatoes, used by the housewife, including those purchased from shops, those pulled from the home garden or allotment, and those received as gifts. The aim was also to discover how many days a week vegetables, other than potatoes, were served, and the reasons for not serving them.

The most convenient and advantageous method of acquiring this information was to request the housewife to keep a daily inventory of the vegetables brought into the house, A daily record sheet was used on which, beneath lists of various vegetables were spaces for their weight and price. (Appendix 1). The housewife was asked to record these two factors for every vegetable (other than potatoes) consumed on each day of the week. In order to ensure a minimum of inaccuracies, each housewife was visited three times during the week by the investigator: the first time to gain her cooperation, to explain the inquiry and to leave forms and a comprehensive outline of instructions; the second time to inspect her forms and, if need be, to help her in filling them in correctly; the third time to collect the forms at the end of the week.

The housewife was also requested to set aside all wastage, i. e. waste cut from vegetable before cooking. This excluded potato peelings. The interviewer at the end of the week recorded the weight of this wastage.

Two additional questions were asked of mothers with children under five years of age, i, e, “What vegetable do you give as particularly suitable for children? and why? “; “What vegetables do you not give because unsuitable for children? and why? “

In addition 1533 schoolchildren recorded their likes and dislikes of individual vegetables (Test form Appendix 2).

The sample for the main inquiry was drawn at random from the rating lists of the four towns. A detailed analysis of the sample will be found in Appendix 3. It was not possible to check the sample in detail as no comparative material is available. In so far as it can be compared with national and regional figures it seems reasonable. The highest income group is smaller than the average for the country. One reason for this was that we had refrained from interviewing members in one of the higher income districts in Llanelly at the request of the Ministry of Food, as another food investigation had been carried out there shortly before, and it was felt that a further inquiry might tax the patience of the inhabitants. Another reason may have been that the four towns chosen were working class towns.

The difficulty in every vegetable survey which does not cover a whole year is the difference in the supply from week to week which influences the consumption, This survey only covers 9 weeks of the year 1944 and this limitation must be realised when evaluating the results.

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