Historic (rec.food.historic) Discussing and discovering how food was made and prepared way back when--From ancient times down until (& possibly including or even going slightly beyond) the times when industrial revolution began to change our lives.

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Old 24-01-2004, 08:23 PM
Frogleg
 
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Default Balanced diet?

Humans have existed on all kinds of diets that would be considered
inadequate in various nutrients today. "A chicken in every pot" was
once a sweet promise of better living when chicken (or any meat?) was
a luxury. How many "historical" diets provided (or didn't) what we now
regard as an adequate mix of protein, vitamins, starch, etc.? The poor
may have fared better nutritionally by foraging for field greens to
add to grain than the rich with abundant supplies of meat and little
else. How 'bout some expert opinions here?

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Old 24-01-2004, 10:22 PM
Cookie Cutter
 
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The poor
may have fared better nutritionally by foraging for field greens to
add to grain than the rich with abundant supplies of meat and little
else.


Why would the rich not have anything other than meat? They would
have had a house full of servants who would have kept the house
well-supplied from a kitchen garden.

Cookie


"Frogleg" wrote in message
...
Humans have existed on all kinds of diets that would be considered
inadequate in various nutrients today. "A chicken in every pot" was
once a sweet promise of better living when chicken (or any meat?) was
a luxury. How many "historical" diets provided (or didn't) what we now
regard as an adequate mix of protein, vitamins, starch, etc.? The poor
may have fared better nutritionally by foraging for field greens to
add to grain than the rich with abundant supplies of meat and little
else. How 'bout some expert opinions here?



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Old 24-01-2004, 11:12 PM
Kate Dicey
 
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Cookie Cutter wrote:

The poor
may have fared better nutritionally by foraging for field greens to
add to grain than the rich with abundant supplies of meat and little
else.


Why would the rich not have anything other than meat? They would
have had a house full of servants who would have kept the house
well-supplied from a kitchen garden.

Hieatt and Butler have a nice theory: there are many warnings in
mediaeval and later writings against the dangers of eating salads, and
their argument is that were it not a great habit of former times to eat
such things, there would be no need to warn against them. There are
also plenty of quite elaborate vegetable dishes and dishes containing
vegetables and meat or fish in Roman and mediaeval cookery writings,
dishes that would have been hard for peasants and poor townsfolk to
afford or have the resources and equipment to make (never mind the
time!), so they must have been eaten in middle class and merchant
households, or in the houses of the rich and nobility. Another good
argument in favour of this is that the peasants couldn't write: these
recipes came from a stratum of society where writing things down was a
well established habit, places such as religious establishments and the
houses of great and wealthy.

Kitchen gardens and the still room were often the preserve of the lady
of the house, and were places where not only herbs and medicinal plants
were grown, used and stored, but also places where fruits were bottled
and preserved for use throughout the year. I think it's a great mistake
to assume from the few surviving menus of mediaeval feasts that the
upper classes dines exclusively on meat and white bread, especially when
you look at the methods of preparation of the dishes, and see how many
had vegetables as a part of their make up, one of the expected
accompaniments. If you stop looking at menus and look at household
accounts, you can see that a lot more went into feeding the household
than meat for the master and pottage for his servant. The records of
places like Knole, Hampton Court Palace, and some of the great religious
houses will tell you this. Also take a look at the religious calendar:
there were days (nay, weeks!) when meat was off limits, and fish had to
be eaten, and times when BOTH were forbidden.

In addition, and at the other end of society, meat was eaten by the
peasantry: pigs were kept, and slaughtered and preserved as bacon, for
example. Pigs could be kept close to the house (they didn't mind the
smell!), and made a good waste disposal unit that could be eaten later.
Peasants also had grazing rights for sheep and goats, and while many of
the ewes were kept for wool and reproduction, the ram lambs would mostly
be slaughtered for meat. They may not have eaten anything like as much
meat as the upper and middle classes, but they did get some. More at
some times of the year, and more in some areas, but pigs, goats, and
chickens are all kaleyard keepers. Certainly in England it was part of
a serf's right to have enough time NOT tilling his master's land and
animals to grow food for his family, and tend his own animals.
--
Kate XXXXXX
Lady Catherine, Wardrobe Mistress of the Chocolate Buttons
http://www.diceyhome.free-online.co.uk
Click on Kate's Pages and explore!
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Old 12-02-2004, 08:28 PM
Frogleg
 
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On Sat, 24 Jan 2004 22:22:54 GMT, "Cookie Cutter"
wrote:

The poor
may have fared better nutritionally by foraging for field greens to
add to grain than the rich with abundant supplies of meat and little
else.


Why would the rich not have anything other than meat? They would
have had a house full of servants who would have kept the house
well-supplied from a kitchen garden.


Point taken. Although people tend to disparage 'low class' items and
favor the rare and expensive. 'White' (refined flour) bread was an
upper-class treat (see 'Heidi') Meat has often been a prized and rare
addition to the diet. Yet low-class diets -- the beans & corn and
squash of Central & South America, beans & rice in many areas, peas or
lentils and rice (and veg) in Indian cuisine seems, by today's
standards, a healthier diet than a tableful of roasts and sweets, as
described in many medieval feasts. I believe the concept of 'salads'
of raw greens were once thought poisonous. Specifics aside, we're
told today that a 'healthy' diet consists of a balance of protein,
fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, etc., etc. How many pre-20tth
century diets were 'healthy' by contemporary analysis? How 'balanced'
is balanced? Meat, veg and starch at every meal? A recommended daily
allowance of everything every day? A pound of meat (in one meal) every
3 weeks and beans/grain the rest of the time? Veg in summer; grain and
stored fat in winter?

My belief (unsubstantiated by research) is that we have a fondness for
calorie-dense foods -- fat & sweet -- because plain ol' calories
supported life. A carrot is beneficial in terms of fiber and vitamin
A, but it doesn't contribute much to keeping the internal fires
burning. The Irish potato famine was devastating in part because many
people were existing on a diet of potatoes and damned little else.
They weren't particularly healthy, but potatoes supplied calories and
most vitamins, and could support life for some time with occasional
supplements of meat, fat, bread, and other veg.

So how many balanced, nutrition-complete diets have there been in
history?
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Old 13-02-2004, 05:47 PM
ahem
 
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"Frogleg" wrote in message
...
On Sat, 24 Jan 2004 22:22:54 GMT, "Cookie Cutter"
wrote:

The poor
may have fared better nutritionally by foraging for field greens to
add to grain than the rich with abundant supplies of meat and little
else.


Why would the rich not have anything other than meat? They would
have had a house full of servants who would have kept the house
well-supplied from a kitchen garden.


Point taken. Although people tend to disparage 'low class' items and
favor the rare and expensive. 'White' (refined flour) bread was an
upper-class treat (see 'Heidi') Meat has often been a prized and rare
addition to the diet. Yet low-class diets -- the beans & corn and
squash of Central & South America, beans & rice in many areas, peas or
lentils and rice (and veg) in Indian cuisine seems, by today's
standards, a healthier diet than a tableful of roasts and sweets, as
described in many medieval feasts. I believe the concept of 'salads'
of raw greens were once thought poisonous. Specifics aside, we're
told today that a 'healthy' diet consists of a balance of protein,
fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, etc., etc. How many pre-20tth
century diets were 'healthy' by contemporary analysis? How 'balanced'
is balanced? Meat, veg and starch at every meal? A recommended daily
allowance of everything every day? A pound of meat (in one meal) every
3 weeks and beans/grain the rest of the time? Veg in summer; grain and
stored fat in winter?

My belief (unsubstantiated by research) is that we have a fondness for
calorie-dense foods -- fat & sweet -- because plain ol' calories
supported life. A carrot is beneficial in terms of fiber and vitamin
A, but it doesn't contribute much to keeping the internal fires
burning. The Irish potato famine was devastating in part because many
people were existing on a diet of potatoes and damned little else.
They weren't particularly healthy, but potatoes supplied calories and
most vitamins, and could support life for some time with occasional
supplements of meat, fat, bread, and other veg.

So how many balanced, nutrition-complete diets have there been in
history?


How are you frogleg - haven't spoken to you for a while.....

What about diets from the Far East regions (coastal China, Vietnam, Myanmar
etc etc) where there were according to a number of contemporary reports,
meals of rice (not polished, generally), vegetables and fish; some accounts
of African diets - as far as I can recall - from again coastal regions; the
diets from the 'cradle of civilisation' - the 'Fertile Crescent', etc

Have some reading material at home - will find it if you're interested.

Cheers


---
Outgoing mail is certified Virus Free.
Checked by AVG anti-virus system (http://www.grisoft.com).
Version: 6.0.583 / Virus Database: 369 - Release Date: 10/02/2004




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Old 15-02-2004, 06:33 PM
Lazarus Cooke
 
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Default Balanced diet?

In article , Frogleg
wrote:

On Sat, 24 Jan 2004 22:22:54 GMT, "Cookie Cutter"
wrote:

My belief (unsubstantiated by research) is that we have a fondness for
calorie-dense foods -- fat & sweet -- because plain ol' calories
supported life. A carrot is beneficial in terms of fiber and vitamin
A, but it doesn't contribute much to keeping the internal fires
burning. The Irish potato famine was devastating in part because many
people were existing on a diet of potatoes and damned little else.
They weren't particularly healthy, but potatoes supplied calories and
most vitamins, and could support life for some time with occasional
supplements of meat, fat, bread, and other veg.


Sorry, frogleg, I'm not picking a fight (promise) and shall be glad to
have a beer with you some day but this is totally wrong - in fact the
opposite of the truth. One of the most interesting points made in
Leslie Clarkson's book "Feast and Famine: a history of food and
nutrition in Ireland 1500-1920" is that the pre-famine Irish diet of
almost nothing but potatoes, (supplemented very occasionally by
herrings, cabbage, or bacon) was an extremely healthy one, with a very
good supply of very high-quality protein. The strapping good looks and
health of Irish peasants were frequently commented on. The one thing it
was a bit low on was fat (though obviously the herrings and bacon
supplied this).


In fact the Irish were much worse off nutritionally after the famine
was over, when they shifted the diet away from the almost exclusive
potato diet. I was myself very surprised by this, I must admit, but
I've talked to the author about it and he is totally convincing.


So how many balanced, nutrition-complete diets have there been in
history?


I think most peasant societies develop an extremely healthy diet, and
unhealthy diets are a feature a few very rich countries. It can't be a
coincidence that the US has perhaps both the worst food tastewise and
nutritionally, until you get to some pretty poor places. Interestingly,
othere very rich countries such as Japan and Italy have a very
well-balanced diet.

Certainly when I travel south and east from Italy I'll have to go a
long long way (In Ethiopa/sudan, the result of war and corruption,
rather than native choice) before I'll find anything other than a
delicious, well-balanced diet.

Lazarus

--
Remover the rock from the email address
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Old 15-02-2004, 08:22 PM
Frogleg
 
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On Fri, 13 Feb 2004 17:47:12 -0000, "ahem"
wrote:


"Frogleg" wrote


people tend to disparage 'low class' items and
favor the rare and expensive. 'White' (refined flour) bread was an
upper-class treat (see 'Heidi') Meat has often been a prized and rare
addition to the diet. Yet low-class diets...
seem, by today's
standards, a healthier diet than a tableful of roasts and sweets, as
described in many medieval feasts.
How many pre-20tth
century diets were 'healthy' by contemporary analysis?

My belief (unsubstantiated by research) is that we have a fondness for
calorie-dense foods -- fat & sweet -- because plain ol' calories
supported life.

So how many balanced, nutrition-complete diets have there been in
history?


What about diets from the Far East regions (coastal China, Vietnam, Myanmar
etc etc) where there were according to a number of contemporary reports,
meals of rice (not polished, generally), vegetables and fish; some accounts
of African diets - as far as I can recall - from again coastal regions; the
diets from the 'cradle of civilisation' - the 'Fertile Crescent', etc

Have some reading material at home - will find it if you're interested.


This is kind of what I meant. There *must* be healthy (balanced?)
diets through history that sustained life adequately . Rice, veg, &
fish sounds good to me. Maybe my question would have been better
framed as 'unbalanced diet.' I haven't done a great deal of reading on
the subject, but medieval upper-class menus seem awfully dependent on
meat and sweets. A good deal of extended lifespan today, I believe,
has to do with adequate nutrition. People can *survive* on very
limited diets, but not thrive. 'Angela's Ashes' about a poor Irish
family mentions feeding babies with sugar-water when milk was
unavailable/expensive. Supplying calories, but not the minerals,
protein and vitamins necessary for health.

The caveman (and his family) was mostly after enough calories to
support life. It doesn't matter much if you eat a carrot and have
enough vitamin A to keep your vision good when that's *all* you have
to eat. In some sense, we have gone to the opposite corner -- a $1
fast food burger is 650 calories -- a bunch of broccoli on sale this
week is $2. Few calories not a 'meal' but useful nonetheless.

So how many historical, common diets were 'balanced'?
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Old 15-02-2004, 09:17 PM
Frogleg
 
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On Sun, 15 Feb 2004 18:33:35 +0000, Lazarus Cooke
wrote:

Frogleg wrote:


My belief (unsubstantiated by research) is that we have a fondness for
calorie-dense foods -- fat & sweet -- because plain ol' calories
supported life. A carrot is beneficial in terms of fiber and vitamin
A, but it doesn't contribute much to keeping the internal fires
burning. The Irish potato famine was devastating in part because many
people were existing on a diet of potatoes and damned little else.
They weren't particularly healthy, but potatoes supplied calories and
most vitamins, and could support life for some time with occasional
supplements of meat, fat, bread, and other veg.


Sorry, frogleg, I'm not picking a fight (promise) and shall be glad to
have a beer with you some day but this is totally wrong - in fact the
opposite of the truth. One of the most interesting points made in
Leslie Clarkson's book "Feast and Famine: a history of food and
nutrition in Ireland 1500-1920" is that the pre-famine Irish diet of
almost nothing but potatoes, (supplemented very occasionally by
herrings, cabbage, or bacon) was an extremely healthy one, with a very
good supply of very high-quality protein. The strapping good looks and
health of Irish peasants were frequently commented on. The one thing it
was a bit low on was fat (though obviously the herrings and bacon
supplied this).


Will have to look into this. I can't believe that a nearly all-potato
diet was healthy. I have read and researched that potatoes contian
some protein and most essential vitamins, except A. As I have posted
frequently, humans can survive on spectacularly inadequate diets. Your
teeth fall out; your hair thins; your eyesight dims; your bones break
easily; but you continue to live. Having not observed the "strapping
good looks and health" of Irish peasants of the 1840s, but only
sketches of emaciated people in rags, I am unable to comment
authoritatively. My time- and place-distant knowledge is that an diet
composed exclusively of potatoes and the odd slab of bacon would *not*
result in a healthy bloom.

In fact the Irish were much worse off nutritionally after the famine
was over, when they shifted the diet away from the almost exclusive
potato diet. I was myself very surprised by this, I must admit, but
I've talked to the author about it and he is totally convincing.


Did 'the author' explain a worse diet than nothing but potatoes
supplemented by occasional bacon or cabbage? What diet could be
*worse* that all-potato? All dirt? All tree bark?

So how many balanced, nutrition-complete diets have there been in
history?


I think most peasant societies develop an extremely healthy diet, and
unhealthy diets are a feature a few very rich countries. It can't be a
coincidence that the US has perhaps both the worst food tastewise and
nutritionally, until you get to some pretty poor places. Interestingly,
othere very rich countries such as Japan and Italy have a very
well-balanced diet.


I agree that traditional cuisines of various sorts are probably the
most reliable. While not a vegetarian, I respect and enjoy the veg
offerengs of many cuisines. Some USAsians seem meat-obsessed. Why
grilled chicken added to Caesar salad or fetuccini Alfredo?

It seems to me that many 'peasant' and vegetarian cuisines have
devoped as about as well-balanced as one could want. It seems to be
when cheap and/or calorie-dense foods are emphasized, that things get
out of balance.
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Old 15-02-2004, 10:04 PM
ASmith1946
 
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Default Balanced diet?


So how many historical, common diets were 'balanced'?

The answer is virtually all. If they were not, the societies in which they were
consumed would not have survived. It doesn't take much to suffer from vitamin
deficiencies-- pellagra, rickets, scurvy, rickets, etc. Without protein the
body decays quickly. Without meeting basic nutritional diets, people would
therefore die before reproducing.

One problem is the "statistics" that are used to describe people's diets
usually refer to products sold or major products cultivated. Most people
consume much greater variety than statistics suggest.

I've always loved the quote for Joseph Fielding:

"How can any man complain of hunger," said Peter, "in a country where such
excellent salads, are to be gathered in almost every field?"

[Joseph Fielding. The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and His
Friend Mr. Abraham Adams. London: A. Millar, 1742.]

Also, it isn't just what you eat, it is how it is prepared and what you eat it
with. Diets of indigenous peoples in Central America, for instance, are 70
percent corn (maize). By nutritional standards they should be dead. But they
prepare the corn through a process call nixtimalization, which frees up
necessary proteins. They also combine corn with beans, and the combination
produces different proteins than consuming the foods separately, etc.

Andy Smith


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Old 15-02-2004, 10:11 PM
Michel Boucher
 
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Bromo wrote in
:

On 2/15/04 3:22 PM, in article
, "Frogleg"
wrote:

The caveman (and his family) was mostly after enough calories to
support life. It doesn't matter much if you eat a carrot and have
enough vitamin A to keep your vision good when that's *all* you
have to eat.


Keep in mind that the hunter-gatherer life would have a varied
diet - whatever they could find or catch - and would probably be
pretty close to balanced on average. For those of us subscribing
the evolutionary theory - that is exactly the type of diet we
evolved to eat!


Archaeological reports of food remains of North American natives
(excluding the Inuit) show that their diet was composed on average of
about 80% starchy foods and other vegetable matter (gathering) and
about 20% meat (hunting). Of course the average lifespan was around
20, with elders being in their late 20's to early 30's. This is not
to say the diet is bad for the place and time.

Europeans had longer lifespans. My ancestor who arrived here in 1634
died at the age of 82, his wife at the age of 84 and many others of
his contemporaries lived well into their 80's.

I doubt it was the presence of meat in the diet. It had more to do
with the salubrious environment and the relative lack of diseases
that ran rampant throughout the cold moist climate of northern
Europe. The Jesuit Relations state that the recovery rate at the
Hôtel-Dieu in Québec was 90% (whereas is was nearly 0% in northern
France). Of course, that could be sheer prpoganda, but there is no
reason to doubt that the recovery rate was significant.

--

"I'm the master of low expectations."

GWB, aboard Air Force One, 04Jun2003
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Old 15-02-2004, 10:21 PM
Bob
 
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Lazarus Cooke wrote:
In article , Frogleg
wrote:

On Sat, 24 Jan 2004 22:22:54 GMT, "Cookie Cutter"
wrote:

My belief (unsubstantiated by research) is that we have a fondness for
calorie-dense foods -- fat & sweet -- because plain ol' calories
supported life.


A look at paleodiets would substantiate this. Animal fats were
sufficiently prized that bones were cracked to get the marrow. Offal
was eaten, including brains, for that same reason. Ripe fruits in
season were prized and the gathering of honey has been documented in
cave drawings. Watching the behaviors of our closest primate relatives
documents the apparently instinctual attraction of these foods. Chimps
hunt and kill prey between bouts of fruit eating.

A carrot is beneficial in terms of fiber and vitamin
A, but it doesn't contribute much to keeping the internal fires
burning. The Irish potato famine was devastating in part because many
people were existing on a diet of potatoes and damned little else.
They weren't particularly healthy, but potatoes supplied calories and
most vitamins, and could support life for some time with occasional
supplements of meat, fat, bread, and other veg.


Sorry, frogleg, I'm not picking a fight (promise) and shall be glad to
have a beer with you some day but this is totally wrong - in fact the
opposite of the truth. One of the most interesting points made in
Leslie Clarkson's book "Feast and Famine: a history of food and
nutrition in Ireland 1500-1920" is that the pre-famine Irish diet of
almost nothing but potatoes, (supplemented very occasionally by
herrings, cabbage, or bacon) was an extremely healthy one, with a very
good supply of very high-quality protein.


Given that they ate potatoes virtually exclusively and about 3 million
did eat them exclusively, the amount of protein

The strapping good looks and
health of Irish peasants were frequently commented on. The one thing it
was a bit low on was fat (though obviously the herrings and bacon
supplied this).

In fact the Irish were much worse off nutritionally after the famine
was over, when they shifted the diet away from the almost exclusive
potato diet.


The potato was problematic all across Europe. The blight was endemic
in England as well as Ireland. European potato crops had been wiped
out earlier in the century by a different disease caused by the
fusarium fungus. No other culture was as hard-hit as the
subsistence-level Irish farmers. But out of more than 8 million
counted in the census of 1841 (and which was undoubtedly a good deal
less than the actual count in 1846), more than a million starved and
another 1.5 million emigrated. By the census of 1851, the population
was reduced to just over 6 million. Since many lived in remote and
inaccessible places, it is likely that far more people died than has
been estimated.

Ireland is a relatively small island with many rivers. Fish abound all
through and around it. The soil will support root crops of all sorts.
Cabbages and other brassicas will do fine. It's called the Emerald
Isle because it's so green. The gulf stream warms it, it virtually
never snows and I've stood under palm trees in Dublin. There have been
several famines in Ireland between 900 and 1900. There were others in
the early 19th century, all exacerbated by barbaric British
regulations and laws.
[Famine: "The Irish Experience 900-1900: Subsistence Crises and
Famines in Ireland." E. Margaret Crawford (Editor)]

Farmers could grow triple the amount of potatoes as grain on the same
amount of land. A single acre of potatoes could support a family for a
year. About half of Ireland's population depended on potatoes for
subsistence.

"To increase their harvest, farmers came to rely heavily on one
variety, the lumper. While the lumper was among the worst-tasting
types, it was remarkably fertile, with a higher per-acre yield than
other varieties. Economist Cormac O'Grada estimates that on the eve of
the famine, the lumper and one other variety, the cup, accounted for
most of the potato crop. For about 3 million people, potatoes were the
only significant source of food, rarely supplemented by anything else.
[...]
"At the beginning of the 19th century, a Dublin Society survey
recorded at least a dozen varieties of potato cultivated in the county
of Kilkenny alone. Then, adults could still remember when most of the
poor raised oats, barley, or rye, along with beans and other green
vegetables. But according to O'Grada, this diversity had largely
disappeared by the 1840s.
[...]
"Although the potatoes were ruined completely, plenty of food grew in
Ireland that year. Most of it, however, was intended for export to
England. There, it would be sold--at a price higher than most
impoverished Irish could pay."
A wonderful article, "The Irish Potato Famine." Catharina Japikse
[EPA Journal - Fall 1994]
http://www.epa.gov/history1/topics/perspect/potato.htm

It would seem that peasants don't choose healthy diets.

I was myself very surprised by this, I must admit, but
I've talked to the author about it and he is totally convincing.


One reviewer took this information from the book: "The Irish diet of
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was reflective of their cattle
economy: meat and milk products for the gentry and meat scraps, offal
and milk products for the poorer Irish. They had long cultivated
cereals and legumes. Potatoes made their appearance during this time,
but they were meant only to supplement other foods, and were not
intended to be the primary, indeed the only, food source.
[...]
"Clarkson and Crawford examine tea drinking in post-Famine Ireland,
noting that while there was a good deal of regional variation, tea
consumption per capita increased from 0.5 pounds to 2.2 pounds between
the late 1830s and the early 1860s. Tea drinking spread in the 1870s
and the 1880s, so much so that by 1904 the Irish were consuming more
tea than tea drinkers in the British Isles. Not only did the Irish
drink large amounts of tea, but they also drank the best available
tea. The cost of tea and sugar for the tea that they drank very sweet
cost the Irish 20% of their food income in 1904."
"Feast and Famine: Food and Nutrition in Ireland 1500-1920." Maureen
Murphy. Hofstra University.
http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/paper/murphyM.html

It would seem that peasants don't choose healthy diets.

So how many balanced, nutrition-complete diets have there been in
history?


I think most peasant societies develop an extremely healthy diet, and
unhealthy diets are a feature a few very rich countries.


Peasant societies develop a diet from what's available. Through most
of history, peasants have eked out a rather bare living. That some
developed the notions of eating beans and corn together or that others
found out ways to process otherwise toxic foods says that the breadth
of availablities was narrow. Why be forced to suffer malnutrition
until some soul puts together corn and beans by happy accident if
other, healthier sources are generally available?

Information and educational levels are more significant contributors
to societal health. Even in modern times with (somewhat) greater
access to medical care, peasants, by whatever name the culture uses,
live shorter, more difficult lives. From Pubmed, "Mortality in Asia."
http://tinyurl.com/yrhgf
Excerpts: "Generally, rural areas exhibited higher infant mortality
than urban areas. The level of child mortality declines with increases
in the mother's educational level in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Sri
Lanka, and Thailand." And "In most countries, particularly in South
Asia, population is expected to increase by 75%, much of it in rural
areas and among poorer socioeconomic groups."

It can't be a
coincidence that the US has perhaps both the worst food tastewise and
nutritionally, until you get to some pretty poor places.


Nonsense. Until you got here, it was reasonable, if certainly
debatable. This generalization that's supposed to cover 300 million
people and their food supplies across every climate and geological
terrain from arctic to desert, mountain to plain, seacoast to inland
is just too broad to credit. This sort of assertion seems to assume
that the U.S. sprang into existence with no antecedents and no new
food notions being continuously introduced. Foods from every nation on
earth can be found here. Food handling ideas from every culture on
earth can be found here. People who brought their recipes, utensils,
methods and preferences are here. If it was healthy back home, it'll
still be healthy here.

In my international travels (Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia), I've
found food that was great and food that was bad (quality, not tastes).
It's frankly rather silly to characterize any nation's food as though
it existed homogeneously. There is a great number of regional
cuisines in the U.S. just as there is in every large, settled land mass.

The U.S. has probably the best raw-material food on earth (as well as
some admitted crap, but so does everybody), and with with the
resurgence of significant levels of artisanal food production and
departures from the mainstream agribusiness approach, some of the best
finished foods, as well. The most-processed foods can be found in
Japan and other Asian countries.

Americans have the greatest choice of foods and their nutritional
implications. The greatest breadth of choices is accompanied by very
detailed nutrition labeling. It's a matter of choice. They can choose
the quality levels they want. Clearly, the choices have not been as
wise as could be. But a significant percentage of the American
populace live in rural areas and could be considered modern peasants.

It would seem that peasants don't choose healthy diets. Actually,
educated urban-dwellers seem to choose more wisely.

From Pubmed, "International Conference on nutrition."
http://tinyurl.com/2bkml
"WHO scientists reviewed data from 26 developed and 16 developing
countries from the period 1960-89: 20 countries showed increases
ranging up to 160% in death rates from diet-related and
life-style-related causes. The biggest decreases were in Australia,
Canada, Japan, and the USA where education advised people to limit
intakes of fat, saturated fat, and salt as well as to increase
exercise and reduce smoking."

Interestingly,
other very rich countries such as Japan and Italy have a very
well-balanced diet.


Italy is having a plague of obesity *greater* than the U.S., Europe in
general, and Australia. The nation's doctors are now asserting that
Italy has the greatest percentage of obese children of any country.

Japan has done well with their public health issues, but that's
largely because they've modified their traditional diet by reducing
the amount of sodium being consumed and eating a wider diversity of
foods. But an alarm has been raised recently about the increase of fat
in their diet with all the diseases that can result from that condition.

Certainly when I travel south and east from Italy I'll have to go a
long long way (In Ethiopia/sudan, the result of war and corruption,
rather than native choice) before I'll find anything other than a
delicious, well-balanced diet.


That question of what a "well-balanced diet" is remains open. Research
into the subject has turned up some surprises and that work is ongoing
and will be for a long time. Delicious is in the eye of the beholder.

Developed nations offer their citizens the greatest number of choices
for their food. It doesn't mean they'll choose wisely. Indeed, they
haven't. World-wide. Whether the fault lies in deliberate choices of
nutritionally bad food when better could be purchased, or bad food was
the only food available, humans don't have a good record for healthy
eating until relatively recent times. Attribute it more to mass media
than folk wisdom.

Pastorio

  #13 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 15-02-2004, 10:27 PM
Bromo
 
Posts: n/a
Default Balanced diet?

On 2/15/04 5:11 PM, in article ,
"Michel Boucher" wrote:

Europeans had longer lifespans. My ancestor who arrived here in 1634
died at the age of 82, his wife at the age of 84 and many others of
his contemporaries lived well into their 80's.


It was not until the more recent era that lifespans became increased - you
ancestor and that crew were quite an exception, though through basic hygiene
lifespans reaches about 40-55 or so, previously it was unusual for someone
to last that long given disease, etc.

Still, the life of a primitive person is nasty brutish and short.

  #14 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 15-02-2004, 10:40 PM
ASmith1946
 
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Default Balanced diet?


Still, the life of a primitive person is nasty brutish and short.



On the contrary, most "primitive" people had/have a relatively decent life.
Take the San (Bushmen) of southern Africa. They have lived in one of the most
inhospitable places on the earth for almost tens of thousands of years. Today,
the men hunt on average 6 hours a day. That's it.

Best evidence on other hunter/gather societies is that they had life spans of
up to 50 years. This was not duplicated in "civilized" societies until about
1900.

Andy Smith
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