We got it good. Sure, obesity, diabetes, and even gout are running rampant, but those are all signs that food is plentiful. And few things reaffirm how good we’ve got it here in the U.S. like flashing back to, say, World War I–era Germany.

A gorgeous pair of charts from 1918 (highlighted on Ptak Science Books, one of the Web’s most reliable unearthers of historical curiosities) demonstrates just how tough things used to be. The first chart displays relatively endurable levels of rationing among 18 classes of Britons, including prisoners and children in hospitals. It’s a gorgeously illustrated wealth of knowledge that must have been a fair bit of work to assemble in an era well before photo editing and illustration software was even conceived.

Germans, meanwhile, were using “ingenious” methods to substitute for missing foods:

“Meat/sausage for example is replaced by ‘War Sausage,’ which was coagulated ox blood bleached with peroxide, and also by a ‘vegetable’ meat, which was dyed glucose.”

Baking powder colored yellow and mixed with starch subbed for eggs; sand, chalk, powdered hay, moss, and even quartz helped stretch bread when barley and oats couldn’t be had; and entrails of freshwater fish subbed in for cooking fats.

So the next time you’re bemoaning the dining options at one of those off-brand Midwestern airports, just remember: It’s gotta be better than ox blood cooked in catfish entrails.

Image source: Ptak Science Books

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