A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46


The results of this inquiry indicate that the Ministry of Food publicity campaign on “Eat more potatoes” had been noticed by a large part of the female public. Consumption had increased but it is hard to say how far this was due to the campaign.

It seems that three main difficulties hinder the increase of potato consumption.

The first of these is conservatism in food habits . This is shown by the great number of women who say that they don’t try new ways of cooking potatoes because their own ways are good and they feel satisfied, or have no time to try; those who say they don’t want to cook breakfast and don’t like potatoes for breakfast; those who do not use potatoes instead of flour because they have never given a thought to this new idea; and those who say that potatoes already form the bulk of their dinner, and why should they make a special potato dish one day a week.

The second obstacle is the belief that there is no real need to eat more potatoes because other foods are plentiful ; this opinion is voiced by the group who say that they don’t want to use potatoes with flour, because they feel satisfied with flour alone, or that there is plenty of flour, or that there is no need to use more potatoes as they have other things.

The third difficulty is presented by the people who do not like the taste of potatoes and try to limit their consumption as far as possible.

As long as there is no greater shortage of other foods, it is doubtful if these difficulties can be overcome by publicity. Information we have from other enquiries suggests it is hard to alter food habits by propaganda alone.

In so far as people appear to have had a bad conscience when not following the advice given by the Ministry of Food, potato publicity was certainly effective. The change in cooking habits was more limited.

“Refuse a second helping except of potatoes” is advice which cannot be successful because it pre-supposes a situation which does not in reality exist.

The slogan: “Make your main dish a potato dish one day a week” is also not a very happy one, since house-wives misinterpret it as “Eat potatoes as the bulk of your usual dinner”, a thing which a great many do anyway.

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