Mr J. R. B. Branson, who advocated a diet of grass to counter food shortages during the Second World War. The Bystander magazine ran a double page spread on him and his views. Picture shows him creating an appetite by mowing the grass and bagging the sweepings ready to take indoors for preparation.      Date: 1939

The Man Who Ate Grass

Will Brexit happen?  When will Brexit happen?  But most importantly, if and when Brexit does happen, what on earth are we all going to eat?

This of course, was a far more pressing question eighty years ago in the first few months of the Second World War, when memories of food control and rationing towards the end of the last war, meant most people were prepared for the inevitability of food shortages.

'Sorry No Potatoes' - a British housewife has limited choice for her vegetable purchasing, as potato stocks dry up due to tight rationing control over supply - December, 1941.     Date: 1941

It was a scenario for which Mr J. R.B. Branson of Battersea was thoroughly prepared.  A retired lawyer and graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, Mr. Branson felt the dietary requirements of the nation on the home front could be met by the green, green grass of home – quite literally.

Mr J. R. B. Branson, who advocated a diet of grass to counter food shortages during the Second World War. The Bystander magazine ran a double page spread on him and his views. Picture of sixty-seven year-old Mr Branson eating flowers in his garden in Battersea.     Date: 1939

In November 1939, Branson was featured in The Bystander magazine in a photo spread proving his theory that humans could subsist adequately on grass. He was shown carefully transferring lawn cuttings into a paper bag, washing and preparing grass and then pointing out a number of boxes, each neatly labelled with a particular vintage of dried grass. “Bowling Green Short 1938” sounds particularly appetising.

Mr J. R. B. Branson, who advocated a diet of grass to counter food shortages during the Second World War. The Bystander magazine ran a double page spread on him and his views. Picture shows him creating an appetite by mowing the grass and bagging the sweepings ready to take indoors for preparation.      Date: 1939

Another photograph shows him mixing grass with sugar and then wandering happily around his garden masticating on a bowlful.  He claimed, at the age of sixty-seven, to have never felt better and to prove the point, was photographed on his daily 6am run around Wandsworth Common.

Mr J. R. B. Branson, who advocated a diet of grass to counter food shortages during the Second World War. The Bystander magazine ran a double page spread on him and his views. Picture shows Mr Branson weighing out his ration of grass and mixing it with sugar. The Bystander reports that Mr Branson changed his diet gradually to 100 per cent grass s     Date: 1939

A final picture of a bowl of grass was pithily captioned by The Bystander: “”We hope German propagandists don’t see this picture”.

So if the thought of post-Brexit chlorinated chicken makes you recoil, then perhaps go one better than becoming vegan and give the great grass diet a go. Mr J. H. P. Branson clearly thrived on it!

If you can’t get enough of Mr Branson and his turf-tastic chow-down, you can see more in this brilliant Pathé clip: https://www.britishpathe.com/video/the-man-who-eats-grass