With no sign of Russia ending its hideous war in Ukraine, are we facing a return to rationing times?

E ggs are becoming the newest contraband at America’s border with Mexico. In Britain, the cost of staple foodstuffs such as bread and pasta and even beer is rising, amid wheat shortages. Energy prices are also pushing up costs.

The largest ground war in Europe since 1945 continues apace and is expected to intensify with a Russian spring offensive and a fierce Ukrainian fightback with German-made Leopard tanks. Russia’s hideous war on Ukraine has affected exports from two key suppliers of the world’s wheat and grains, pushing up the price of chicken feed, even as chicken farmers, like the rest of us, pay more for the same amount of energy they used before the February 24, 2022 invasion.

And then there is the outbreak of a very contagious avian flu.

Eggs are becoming a delicacy, and I don’t mean caviar (i.e. sturgeon eggs).

In the US, this is likely to force an unpleasant reckoning because Americans eat a lot of eggs. According to the US Department of Agriculture, last year, Americans consumed an average of 278 eggs per person last year, which is practically one a day.

In Britain, at least one supermarket plans to continue with egg rationing because of persistent industry-wide issues that go back months.

So what does one do?

By all accounts, plant-based eggs don’t cut it. There’s no point raising your own chickens to lay for you — the price of feed is too high, and townies, especially in the UK, won’t have the space. For Americans, getting contraband from Mexico — bootlegg cartons — is a shaky supply line.

Rationing means a fair share for all of us, 1943.

It’s possible that we may have to fall back on a staple of wartime cooking: eggless, flourless, butterless cake.

This dreary-sounding concoction goes under different names in different places. During the decade of the Great Depression (from 1929), it appeared as Depression Cake or Poor Man’s Cake in America, which also had recipes for something called War Cake. And during the American Civil War, there was a Boiled Raisin Cake, which relied on raisins, sugar and spice for flavour and eschewed scarce, expensive and nutritious commodities. The reasons for barely cake-like cake recipes were threefold: the ingredients cost too much, were in short supply, and the small amounts available were needed to feed soldiers and others engaged in the war effort.

With no sign of Russia ending its hideous campaign in Ukraine, some might wonder if a Boiled Raisin Cake period may beckon some parts of the world.

PMP Magazine


Rashmee Roshan Lall, Journalist by trade & inclination. World affairs columnist.


Text: This piece was originally published in Medium and re-published in PMP Magazine on 5 February 2023, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
Cover: Adobe Stock/F Armstrong Photo.

Written by:

[Read our Comments Guidelines]