Thursday, January 3, 2013

Counting Calories, Importing Experts

I'm not going to stay on the topic of the austerity and rationing polices of 1949-50 much longer--too depressing. Still, here are two interesting snippets. The first (p.2) is a standard form which was sent each month to Dov Joseph, Minister of Supplies and Rationing. It sets out the average calorie intake of the populace in various categories and compares recent months, breaking down: calories, carbohydrates, protein, animal protein, fat, calcium, iron, vitamin A (3 lines), three items I don't recognize, and finally vitamin C. So there's a bureaucracy counting calories of the populace and filling charts with data. Talk about the government interfering with peoples' lives.

Then there are two letters written in English by one Ben-Ami Ben Dor, an official of the rationing ministry. He was in New York, where he apparently didn't have access to a Hebrew typewriter and the battery of his laptop was broken, hence his use of English. (He may also have had in mind the future readers of an English-language blog of the State Archives, who knows.) Anyway, he's trying to figure out if it's a good thing for Israel to lean on official American government experts who know about nutrition. Remember, in 1950 the relationship between the US and Israel was not obvious in the way it later became, and he seems to have expected a bit of prickliness on either side.

On the final page, he also makes an odd comment about the need to import American experts, perhaps on a 103-year contract. I admit that one stumped me; if any reader can offer an explanation I'd appreciate it.

By about this time - late 1950 - it had dawned on Israel's government that the entire policy was perhaps unproductive, and they soon began to dismantle it.


  1. Maybe the "edit" key on his typewriter was broken.

  2. Maybe if the gov't didn't "interfere in their lives", a lot of them would have starved to death.