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Enough to Eat? (1936)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Over a montage of reports, books and newspapers, the narrator sets out the argument that many British people are undernourished. The first section presents the work of scientists in nutrition science, including Gowland Hopkins (vitamins), John Orr (minerals) and Robert McCarrison (nutrition in India); a milk-feeding experiment carried out by Dr G. E. Friend, a school medical officer acts as an introduction to the question of the relationship between diet and social class.

The second section commences with an introduction of nutrient types - classified into energy foods, proteins and protective foodstuffs - and their sources in foods. There follows an exposition of Orr's Food, Health and Income, mainly through diagrams that map first the consumption of milk and bread within six income groups, then calcium and iron deficiencies in the same groups. The narrator sums up Orr's conclusion that over 4 1/2 million people suffer from an inadequate diet. An interview with the Medical Officers of Health, Vynne Borland and George M'gonigle, is supported by restaged social survey interviews with 'working class wives'; Mrs Appleby with 2/8d per family member for food per week, and Mrs Sivewright with 4/-.

After a brief reference to the desirability of a planned food policy, the narrator outlines current action in response to the problem, starting with government policy and the work of the Milk Marketing Board. The Shoreditch Maternity and Child Welfare Centre is given as an example of a part-nationally funded institution providing food for 'mothers with small incomes'. The London County Council, in a speech by Herbert Morrison, its leader, exemplifies local authorities' work in nutrition. Viscount Astor speaks on behalf of the League of Nations Nutrition Committee, linking poverty, ignorance and agricultural production:

In the fourth section, the narrator asks what England must do now, summarising the arguments so far and suggesting radical solutions in terms of policy. The classification of food types is re-presented, with a recommended diet for a working man and a child. The narrator's closing sentences make a link between science and living standards, and are followed by shots of the maternity and child welfare centre and the two 'working-class wives'.