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Old 01-27-2017, 05:20 PM
Marcus Flavius Marcus Flavius is offline
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Medieval peasant vs modern American diet- which is healthier?

Take the diet/eating habits of an agrarian peasant in England from 1000- 1300 CE and compare it to that of your average urban American in 2017 CE. Which diet is the 'healthier' of the two? By 'healthier' I mean more conducive to disease resistance, physical fitness, and longevity. From the research Ive done, it seems the medieval peasant ate a very simple diet that would make a modern dietician cream his pants- whole grains, fruits and veggies when in season, legumes, and little meat (apparently the average person eating meat on a regular basis doesn't even become a thing till the advent of factory farming). Their food was also minimally processed and refined sugars and grains were unheard of. However, these people lived a complete hand to mouth existence, with scarcity and famine not at all being uncommon. Lack of refridgeration, food safety standards, etc probably made foodborne ilness common.

The typical American on the other hand probably has access to more food and a greater variety of food than even the nobles of the middle ages. But everone knows how 'bad' the standard American diet is. The diet is rich in meats and other animal products, refined grains, refined sugars, oils, and highley processed foods. The average American is incredibly well fed and his food is subject to rigorous safety regulations before being certified for consumption.

Which one of these is healthier, taking all factors listed and any ones not listed into account.

Last edited by Marcus Flavius; 01-27-2017 at 05:22 PM.
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  #2  
Old 01-27-2017, 05:52 PM
Darren Garrison Darren Garrison is offline
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Well, one way to examine the question is to look into the average lifespans of the rich and the poor at any given time. The rich were more able to eat any rich food they wanted, but still were subject to the same diseases as the poor. Did the rich live longer or shorter lives than the peasants?
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Old 01-27-2017, 05:53 PM
Kimera757 Kimera757 is offline
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Instead of artificial preservatives, modern carcinogens, growth hormone and "empty calories", they had to face a lack of food sanitation, ergot rye, even sometimes malnutrition or outright starvation. Peasants may have eaten more fresh fruit than today's first world people, but ... what fresh fruit would they be eating in the winter? (We didn't hear about winter attacks of scurvy, probably because they preserved fruit.)

They had less food variety. One common food, potatoes, came from South America. Rice came from Eastern Asia. Both would have been unavailable in Medieval Europe until shipping became effective and economical. (On the other hand, I don't think the variety of food was low enough to be unhealthy. Millions of people thrived on the stuff.)

I would have been especially worried about the lack of refrigeration, and many "preservatives" (such as pepper) were more about preserving taste (masking the taste of rot) rather than actually fighting off decay.

What about what they drank? The water couldn't be trusted, so people had to drink light beer, whose alcohol content would kill at least some of the bacteria. Not very alcoholic, but it's literally homebrewed beer. Moonshine. I wonder if people often went blind as a result of accidentally consuming methanol. (We don't hear about plagues of that, though.)

I don't think their diet was objectively healthier, but they undoubtedly had some healthier foods than we do today.

Now about quality? Would you have rather eaten a big lump of black bread (with risk of ergot poisoning), or today's light (but possibly nutritionally inferior) bread intended for slicing?

Peasants would not have understood a lot about nutritional deficiencies. For instance, what if phenylalanine was poisonous to someone? Or they had diabetes? (I suspect incidences of both were less in those days.) The lack of food sanitation would result in lots of people infected with tapeworms and the like.
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Old 01-27-2017, 06:04 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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The OP specified 1000 - 1300 AD so we can rule out any foods from the New World. I'm reminded of a scene in Narcissus and Goldmund (By H. Hesse) where the peasant farm family Goldmund stayed with had a dinner that was: Bread dipped in milk. Not particularly nutritious if had on even a semi-regular basis.
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Old 01-27-2017, 06:05 PM
Darren Garrison Darren Garrison is offline
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Originally Posted by Kimera757 View Post
Peasants would not have understood a lot about nutritional deficiencies. For instance, what if phenylalanine was poisonous to someone? Or they had diabetes? (I suspect incidences of both were less in those days.) The lack of food sanitation would result in lots of people infected with tapeworms and the like.
I think about how ancient peoples had to find out by trial and error which foods (or which preparation methods) resulted in diets that didn't lead to malnutrition if not outright poisoning. For instance, if your diet depends too much on corn (maize to some parts of the world), you will develop pellagra. the biological cause of which wasn't figured out until the 1930s.
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Old 01-27-2017, 06:21 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Originally Posted by Kimera757 View Post
Instead of artificial preservatives, modern carcinogens, growth hormone and "empty calories", they had to face a lack of food sanitation, ergot rye, even sometimes malnutrition or outright starvation. Peasants may have eaten more fresh fruit than today's first world people, but ... what fresh fruit would they be eating in the winter? (We didn't hear about winter attacks of scurvy, probably because they preserved fruit.)
Actually, by spring a lot of people were showing signs of at least mild scurvy. One reason early greens like dandelions were popular is that they did show up early and helped alleviate many deficiencies that cropped up during the winter.

Quote:
I would have been especially worried about the lack of refrigeration, and many "preservatives" (such as pepper) were more about preserving taste (masking the taste of rot) rather than actually fighting off decay.
Peasants wouldn't have had much access to pepper and their main preservative was salt, with some drying and smoking as well. Keep in mind, though, that meat for them was scare and likely eaten before it went bad.

Quote:
What about what they drank? The water couldn't be trusted, so people had to drink light beer, whose alcohol content would kill at least some of the bacteria. Not very alcoholic, but it's literally homebrewed beer. Moonshine. I wonder if people often went blind as a result of accidentally consuming methanol. (We don't hear about plagues of that, though.)
Methanol poisoning is a problem when you're distilling liquor as opposed to home-brewing beer. Distilling of spirits didn't get started in Europe until really post-1300. While beer and wine have trace amounts of methanol (especially fruit-based wines) these are extremely small amounts. Distilling concentrates certain chemicals, such as various alcohols, methanol as well as ethanol. In fact, it raises the amount of methanol from innocuous trace amount to dangerous or even lethal amounts

Bottom line, home brew beer and wine don't have enough methanol to cause methanol poisoning.

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Peasants would not have understood a lot about nutritional deficiencies. For instance, what if phenylalanine was poisonous to someone? Or they had diabetes? (I suspect incidences of both were less in those days.)
Problems with phenylalanine like PKU are genetic and would have occurred at the same rate in Medieval populations as modern ones, but because little to nothing was understood about the disorder such children would have been much, much more likely to die in infancy or childhood, and at best would grow up to be a "village idiot" due to neurological damage. Some people postulate a sensitivity to phenylalanine that isn't PKU or otherwise as straightforward. Well, it's a bit like saying you're allergic to salt - too much salt might cause a health problem, but so will too little. Phenylalanine is one of the essential amino acids and "essential" says a lot - you have to have at least some. Some of the top sources in the diet are things like chicken and beef - you know, that meat stuff peasants didn't get a whole lot of. (Also eggs and soybeans - but wait, those are Asian and probably not seen in Medieval Europe - and spinach, but it IS an essential amino acid so it's good they had some sources.)

Diabetics were a HELL of a lot less common - if you had Type 1 you'd be lucky to survive two years, if that long. Prior to artificially produced insulin that could be injected into the body Type 1 diabetes was 100% lethal. Peasants were unlikely to have Type 2 because they were active enough, and suffered food shortages often enough, that being overweight and/or obese was unlikely and that's the highest risk factor. It probably did happen, but mainly to the elderly and the more well-to-do. Even nobility and royalty lived pretty active lifestyles for the most part compared to today.

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The lack of food sanitation would result in lots of people infected with tapeworms and the like.
True. And the general lack of sanitation made other, potentially lethal diseases like cholera more common. Which meant more deaths from them. Use of fresh, untreated human feces as fertilizer could make eating fresh vegetables hazardous - might be why boiling them to death, or pickling them in strong brine, became popular options.\

In some ways the Medieval peasant diet was healthier, and for those that were resistant to disease spread by bad water and human/animal waste and could tolerate a bunch of parasites in their gut might contribute to a relatively healthy old age - but that was a distinct minority of people at the time. Our diet is better due to nutrients being available year round, better preservation methods like freezing that preserve both quality and nutrition, and modern concepts of sanitation.
  #7  
Old 01-27-2017, 06:25 PM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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I mean more conducive to disease resistance
diet wouldn't help here; poor/non-existent sanitation is a big factor in the spread of plagues. modern sanitation (i.e. getting our literal shit away from us as quickly as possible) has contributed more to the advancement of human society than just about anything else.
  #8  
Old 01-27-2017, 06:53 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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One area where primitive diets were superior to modern ones was dental hygiene. Dental carries (cavities) were fairly rare in societies that did not have ready access to refined sugar and still are in the relatively few places where that is still true. I took an excellent class in college called Bones, Bodies and Disease taught by a well-known forensic anthropologist. We had to learn to diagnose diseases presented in actual skeletons that were anywhere from hundreds to thousands of years old.

The one thing that almost all of them had was a beautiful set of teeth despite the lack of modern dental products and dentistry. The lack of refined sugar combined with some grit in their diet kept their mouth in really good shape. We also learned that dental health went to absolute shit when refined sugar became readily available especially in Europe and would still be a huge problem today if we didn't invent decent toothbrushes, fluoridated water and everything else that keeps the ever-encroaching decay at bay.

That said, a nice smile was one of the only benefits of such a diet. Vitamin deficiencies were common especially in the northern latitudes. They got rickets because of a lack of Vitamin D, scurvy because of a lack of Vitamin C (especially sailors) and lots more. A modern American diet may make many people fat but it rarely causes malnutrition and severe vitamin deficiencies that were once common.
  #9  
Old 01-27-2017, 06:54 PM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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Parasites.
Especially in Pork.
I say Modern.
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  #10  
Old 01-27-2017, 07:07 PM
TSBG TSBG is offline
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Didn't many Native Americans get ground-down teeth from the grit created by grinding corn in metates? I would think exposing the dentin would have led to cavities even with a diet low in sugar. But IANAD.
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Old 01-27-2017, 07:08 PM
griffin1977 griffin1977 is offline
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Originally Posted by Kimera757 View Post
Instead of artificial preservatives, modern carcinogens, growth hormone and "empty calories"
The concept of "empty" calories is a modern concept, that assumes you have unlimited calories available. "Empty" calories, like big macs, candy and sugary soda, would have saved the lives of plenty of starving peasants during a medieval famine.

Even in recent, as in post-WW2, history (in the UK at least) products like glucose tablets and a high sugar drinks like Lucozade, were sold basically as medicines, on the assumption that if you were sick there was a good chance you were also malnourished to some degree, and getting "empty" calories into your system would do you some good.
  #12  
Old 01-27-2017, 07:08 PM
DesertDog DesertDog is offline
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Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post
I think about how ancient peoples had to find out by trial and error which foods (or which preparation methods) resulted in diets that didn't lead to malnutrition if not outright poisoning. For instance, if your diet depends too much on corn (maize to some parts of the world), you will develop pellagra. the biological cause of which wasn't figured out until the 1930s.
They might not have known the specific cause, but the people of old had figured it out empirically. Corn and beans or rice and beans were commonly eaten together.
  #13  
Old 01-27-2017, 07:21 PM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor View Post
Parasites.
Especially in Pork.
I say Modern.
yeah. consider that even on the poor western/American diet, people can live into their 70s, 80s, or even 90s on it. though not in the best of health at the end.
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Old 01-27-2017, 07:46 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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What about what they drank? The water couldn't be trusted, so people had to drink light beer, whose alcohol content would kill at least some of the bacteria. Not very alcoholic, but it's literally homebrewed beer.
It wasn't the alcohol that killed the germs so much as it was boiling the wort, although they didn't know it yet. The time period specified would be pre-hops, so they would add gruit to the beer as an additional flavoring and preservative. And don't knock homebrew. There are a number of us here who turn out some killer brews.
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Old 01-27-2017, 07:48 PM
Trancephalic Trancephalic is offline
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Evergreens such as spruces and pine trees are a rich source of vitamin c, and were valued as such by Native Americans. These sources were assuredly available most the world over where winter occurs, so presumably Europeans knew of them too.

As for sugar:
Quote:
Tooth decay is caused by acid-producing bacteria in your mouth that feast on carbohydrates, be it sugar from candy or starch from wholesome foods such as bread.

Potato chips and raisins cling to your teeth, giving the bacteria something to savor. But a simple chocolate bar can get washed away naturally with saliva. The faster a food is removed, the less chance it will have to feed bacteria and cause decay
http://www.livescience.com/2011-truth-tooth-decay.html

Plenty of preindustrial foods were worse for your teeth than candy
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Old 01-27-2017, 08:35 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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One area where primitive diets were superior to modern ones was dental hygiene. Dental carries (cavities) were fairly rare in societies that did not have ready access to refined sugar and still are in the relatively few places where that is still true.
This is very true, but dental issues other than carries could be problems - the ancient Egyptians for example literally ground their teeth away, probably largely due to abrasives present in their rather montonous diet. No cite but I believe this was still an issue in medieval society, since stone-ground bread didn't go out of style until relatively late. So fewer cavities and whiter teeth, but worse abrasion and wear, probably leading to a lot of pain and tooth loss later in life.

Last edited by Tamerlane; 01-27-2017 at 08:36 PM.
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Old 01-27-2017, 08:44 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Originally Posted by Trancephalic View Post
Plenty of preindustrial foods were worse for your teeth than candy
That is a pseudo-science cite that isn't accurate at all. The only thing that is accurate in the "article" is that dentistry is ancient practice. That doesn't mean that most people required it though. Oddly enough, dentistry and even sophisticated brain surgery predate the wheel in parts of the world like South America. Those were anomalies however. Most people in pre-agricultural societies had very good teeth.

If you don't believe the cause, stop brushing your teeth for 6 months and make it a point to eat several pieces of candy a day. It is absurd to claim that sticky, refined sugar and carbohydrates aren't the major cause of tooth decay and general mouth rot. Pure chocolate won't cause it on its own but it will when you mix it with carbs and sugars to create a candy bar or modern hot chocolate.

Here is a more reputable article but there are plenty of more. The causes of tooth decay in ancient people is a surprisingly active research area:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...ology-science/

Last edited by Shagnasty; 01-27-2017 at 08:49 PM.
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Old 01-27-2017, 08:50 PM
Kimera757 Kimera757 is offline
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There are a number of us here who turn out some killer brews.
Ah sorry. Perhaps I should have said "people who didn't know much chemistry"... but it seems the risks were low without distillation anyway.
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Old 01-28-2017, 05:00 PM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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There are a whole bunch of malnutrition-based illnesses like beriberi, kwashiorkor, scurvy, rickets, pellagra, Keshan disease, etc., that have virtually disappeared with modern diets.

Last edited by kunilou; 01-28-2017 at 05:00 PM.
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Old 01-28-2017, 08:21 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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Poor diet only takes a few years off life expectancy, maybe 3. So someone who eats a poor diet may die at 78, someone who eats a healthy diet may die at 81.

Considering all the benefits of our modern diet (free of pathogens, full of micronutrients, prevents famine) I'd say the modern diet by far.

It is 5 steps forward, 1 step back (since the modern diet causes obesity and metabolic disorders).
  #21  
Old 01-28-2017, 08:23 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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There are a whole bunch of malnutrition-based illnesses like beriberi, kwashiorkor, scurvy, rickets, pellagra, Keshan disease, etc., that have virtually disappeared with modern diets.
There is also the fact that various micronutrients and macronutrients are necessary to have a functioning immune system and self repair capabilities. Vitamin A, D, C, Iron, protein, selenium, copper etc. all play a role in the bodies ability to repair wounds and fight off infections.
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Old 01-29-2017, 12:12 PM
mmmiiikkkeee mmmiiikkkeee is offline
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...It is 5 steps forward, 1 step back (since the modern diet causes obesity and metabolic disorders).
I assume you're including typical (excessive) portion sizes as part of a modern diet, rather than just the quality if the food its self. If people understand their caloric needs and adjust the amounts of foods available the eat accordingly, the modern diet shouldn't cause obesity or disorders.
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Old 01-29-2017, 12:43 PM
Dr_Paprika Dr_Paprika is offline
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Modern, for sure. Even elites had to use salt and spices to cover the taste of spoiled meat. Out of season availability, fair distribution, protection from disease and rodents, hygienic cooking methods and access to water were surely issues in some places.

17th century Kings were thrilled to be drinking water with sugar, and Escoffier called this the finest drink ever.
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Old 01-29-2017, 01:10 PM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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According to this article medieval peasants had decent diets - when there weren't famines due to war or climatic disturbances, and outbreaks of disease like dysentery and ergot poisoning due to contaminated food and water.

Peasants would not have eaten nearly as healthy diets during winter and late spring, which is one huge advantage modern U.S. diets have - the availability of fresh greens and fruits.
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Old 01-30-2017, 10:46 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is online now
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Originally Posted by Kimera757 View Post
what fresh fruit would they be eating in the winter? (We didn't hear about winter attacks of scurvy, probably because they preserved fruit.)
Chestnuts and hawthorn haws are both high in vitamin C. Also winter greens (kale, cabbage) are rich in vitamin C...
Quote:
They had less food variety.
This is wrong. If anything, they ate a greater variety of foods because they ate seasonally, practiced various forms of wild foraging and of the things they did grow, they had more varietals (where do you think all those "heirloom" varietals of everything from carrots to apples have their start?
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What about what they drank? The water couldn't be trusted, so people had to drink light beer
Yeah, no, this is a myth.
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Old 01-30-2017, 11:33 AM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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They might have had variety over the course of the year, but at any given time of year, you had few options available. Nowadays, if I want a vegetable with my dinner, I can get any vegetable I can think of, no matter what time of year. Back then, if you wanted a vegetable, it was whatever the fields were producing right now, if anything.
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Old 01-30-2017, 11:57 AM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Originally Posted by Shagnasty View Post
That is a pseudo-science cite that isn't accurate at all. The only thing that is accurate in the "article" is that dentistry is ancient practice. That doesn't mean that most people required it though. Oddly enough, dentistry and even sophisticated brain surgery predate the wheel in parts of the world like South America. Those were anomalies however. Most people in pre-agricultural societies had very good teeth.
]
You are arguing "pre-agricultural societies"

Trancephalic is arguing: preindustrial

He is correct: Plenty of preindustrial foods were worse for your teeth than candy.

as side note:

The OP is asking for: agrarian peasant in England from 1000- 1300 CE .



And yes, we eat far healthier.

Now yes, you could go back then, as a noble or rich middle class, and eat better than today. But few did. Nobles ate all sorts of bad stuff. Gout and tooth decay were common, as well as a host of other dietary issues.
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Old 01-30-2017, 12:53 PM
MrDibble MrDibble is online now
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One other way the medieval diet was probably a little healthier - all the meatless days in the Catholic calendar. More fish in the diet as a consequence.

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They might have had variety over the course of the year, but at any given time of year, you had few options available.
I disagree. Largely, this is because they ate many things we wouldn't consider worth eating - so, for instance, not only chickens and ducks, but any songbird was fair game. And not just iceberg lettuce, but any reasonably palatable green. Very few of us still eat the green tops of our carrots, for instance. They did. And sure, they may only have had wrinkly apples and no cold-stored kiwifruit - but they had dozens of varieties of apple, we generally have 3 or 4 in any supermarket. Obviously, this doesn't apply in times of famine. But ordinarily, there would have been quite a variety. Sure, we have refrigeration and the like, but for most people, that just means year-round bananas, not a diversity of fruits.
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Old 01-30-2017, 01:20 PM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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I dunno about the rest of you, but I could not survive on a diet of medieval peasant.
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Old 01-30-2017, 01:46 PM
DrCube DrCube is offline
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Absolutely a modern diet. No contest. Now if it were pre-agriculture hunter-gatherer (from a successful tribe in an area with plenty of game and no drought) versus a modern diet, it might be a more charitable comparison.
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Old 01-30-2017, 02:45 PM
TSBG TSBG is offline
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One other way the medieval diet was probably a little healthier - all the meatless days in the Catholic calendar. More fish in the diet as a consequence.


I disagree. Largely, this is because they ate many things we wouldn't consider worth eating - so, for instance, not only chickens and ducks, but any songbird was fair game. And not just iceberg lettuce, but any reasonably palatable green. Very few of us still eat the green tops of our carrots, for instance. They did. And sure, they may only have had wrinkly apples and no cold-stored kiwifruit - but they had dozens of varieties of apple, we generally have 3 or 4 in any supermarket. Obviously, this doesn't apply in times of famine. But ordinarily, there would have been quite a variety. Sure, we have refrigeration and the like, but for most people, that just means year-round bananas, not a diversity of fruits.
Well, people really ought to eat carrot greens--they are delicious and healthy--but it's not true that the only alternative is iceberg. Perhaps you've noticed, for example, the vogue for kale? And my local Trader Joe's carries at least 5-6 varieties of apple, often more. (And there is still regional diversity by the way--you can't find Macintosh or Empire apples in CA. Maybe at a Whole Paycheck.)

Also, I don't think that eating songbirds is an indication of how great the choices were. If you were a noble, eating lark's tongues was a delicacy. For a peasant, eating a lark was a sign that you didn't have better, more calorie-rich choices--maybe because you already ate your chicken and ducks had gone south.
  #32  
Old 01-30-2017, 10:03 PM
clairobscur clairobscur is offline
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Originally Posted by Dr_Paprika View Post
Modern, for sure. Even elites had to use salt and spices to cover the taste of spoiled meat.
I believe that the idea that middle ages people were using spices in order to cover the taste of spoiled meat is a legend with no basis in fact. Meat has been very well preserved until very recently by salting or smoking it.

And elites could very easily procure themselves fresh meat if they wanted to. You can slaughter an animal any time you want, if you have the money, so it would make few sense to assume that wealthy lords and ladies would find themselves forced to eat rotten meat (while somehow being able to afford extremely expensive spices to cover the bad taste).
  #33  
Old 01-30-2017, 10:18 PM
MrDibble MrDibble is online now
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Originally Posted by TSBG View Post
Well, people really ought to eat carrot greens--they are delicious and healthy--but it's not true that the only alternative is iceberg. Perhaps you've noticed, for example, the vogue for kale?
"Most people" are not urban trendsters. "Most people" have the iceberg and tomato slice on their big mac or DoubleDown as their two a day, IME.
Quote:
And my local Trader Joe's carries at least 5-6 varieties of apple, often more. (And there is still regional diversity by the way--you can't find Macintosh or Empire apples in CA. Maybe at a Whole Paycheck.)
Yet most people are going to get a Delicious...
Quote:
Also, I don't think that eating songbirds is an indication of how great the choices were.
I didn't say they were great choices. Just that they had them.
  #34  
Old 01-31-2017, 12:27 PM
jbaker jbaker is offline
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As asked, the question is hopelessly one-sided: The modern diet is incomparably better, because there are consistently reliable sources of food and because modern food is hygienic. These advantages far outweigh any nutritional advantages that medieval peasants might have had.

The more interesting question, I think, is whether the medieval peasant's diet actually did have nutritional advantages (assuming no famine and disregarding hygiene). And in that regard, consider the peasant's diet as it actually existed, and not what a nutritionally knowledgeable modern person would have eaten if taken back in time. Yes, the peasant had food that was all local and natural, with no added sugar, pesticides, or preservatives other than salt. But the peasant was likely overreliant on a small number of staple foods and probably ate too much salt, since that was the only preservative. The peasant was also at risk of scurvy, a scourge that has entirely disappeared from the modern world. I'm inclined to think that the modern diet, for all its flaws, was probably more nutritious.
  #35  
Old 01-31-2017, 01:38 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
There are a number of us here who turn out some killer brews.
Does anyone use gruit in it?
  #36  
Old 01-31-2017, 01:58 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
One other way the medieval diet was probably a little healthier - all the meatless days in the Catholic calendar. More fish in the diet as a consequence.
But also fetal rabbits, which I'm sorry are just not healthy. They actually cause negative calories from all the vomiting because, y'know - fetal rabbits!
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Old 01-31-2017, 02:08 PM
MrDibble MrDibble is online now
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But also fetal rabbits, which I'm sorry are just not healthy. They actually cause negative calories from all the vomiting because, y'know - fetal rabbits!
Many people eat well-developed duck embryos today, don't really see the difference.
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Old 01-31-2017, 02:21 PM
smiling bandit smiling bandit is offline
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Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
"Most people" are not urban trendsters. "Most people" have the iceberg and tomato slice on their big mac or DoubleDown as their two a day, IME.Yet most people are going to get a Delicious...I didn't say they were great choices. Just that they had them.
This is pretty absurd, and the implication outside of the enlightened "urban trendsters" nobodies eats vegetables is frankly ridiculous. You can walk into nearly any supermarket in America and find between four and six varieties of apple, depending on the season. Sure, certain varieties have advantages due to being long-lasting or easy to harvest, but that's not a downside except in the fevered imagination of food nuts.

Fresh fruit you can actually eat beats imaginary food that doesn't exist, no matter how good your imagination.

Second, nobody in Medieval anywhere had "dozens of varieties" of anything. Even in season, you would have access to one variety of apple, or any other fruit or vegetable, if you were lucky. If you didn't happen to live near an orchard, then you might be able to gather some apples of a random tree that happened to be on your land, or barter with a trader. They were likely to be rather sour if not grafted by an experienced grower.

Last edited by smiling bandit; 01-31-2017 at 02:25 PM.
  #39  
Old 01-31-2017, 02:29 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan View Post
Does anyone use gruit in it?
We have. It's...interesting. For people who have been raised of hops in beer, it is definitely an acquired taste. Several commercial brewers make seasonal beers using spruce tips, gale, and in Scotland, heather.
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Old 01-31-2017, 02:52 PM
Atamasama Atamasama is offline
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Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
Many people eat well-developed duck embryos today, don't really see the difference.
Eww, me either!
  #41  
Old 01-31-2017, 03:08 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Originally Posted by smiling bandit View Post
Even in season, you would have access to one variety of apple, or any other fruit or vegetable, if you were lucky. If you didn't happen to live near an orchard, then you might be able to gather some apples of a random tree that happened to be on your land, or barter with a trader. They were likely to be rather sour if not grafted by an experienced grower.
They didnt eat apples much, they were used for cider.
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Old 01-31-2017, 05:30 PM
smiling bandit smiling bandit is offline
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They didnt eat apples much, they were used for cider.
"They" would whom, exactly? Apple Cider is hardly a universal beverage even in western Europe, whereas apples are a commonly cultivated fruit across much of the temperate zones of the planet. Most European countries have some regional tradition of cider-making, but not every place did that.

Last edited by smiling bandit; 01-31-2017 at 05:31 PM.
  #43  
Old 01-31-2017, 06:03 PM
Atamasama Atamasama is offline
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I have trouble seeing a hungry peasant taking an apple, squeezing out the juice, and discarding all of the fiber, calories, and other nutrition you'd receive from eating the apple.

Though England seems to be more cider-crazy than the rest of the world so maybe English peasants were like that.
  #44  
Old 01-31-2017, 07:31 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is online now
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Originally Posted by Atamasama View Post
I have trouble seeing a hungry peasant taking an apple, squeezing out the juice, and discarding all of the fiber, calories, and other nutrition you'd receive from eating the apple.

Though England seems to be more cider-crazy than the rest of the world so maybe English peasants were like that.
But apples all get ripe at the same time. There's only so many apples you can eat in the 1 or 2 month span, max, in which they're available and not rotten yet. Unless you make cider out of the remainder, then you'd be missing out on the non-caloric nutrients, but you'd be extending the shelf life of the remaining calories substantially.
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Old 01-31-2017, 07:32 PM
Marcus Flavius Marcus Flavius is offline
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Originally Posted by Atamasama View Post
I have trouble seeing a hungry peasant taking an apple, squeezing out the juice, and discarding all of the fiber, calories, and other nutrition you'd receive from eating the apple.

Though England seems to be more cider-crazy than the rest of the world so maybe English peasants were like that.
Yes, juicing is an extremely wasteful way to consume fruit.
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Old 01-31-2017, 07:39 PM
smiling bandit smiling bandit is offline
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Originally Posted by Marcus Flavius View Post
Yes, juicing is an extremely wasteful way to consume fruit.
Well, people will make liquor out of literally anything you can possibly to make liquor out of. And Ludovic is right that if you can't sell your apples while they're still fresh, it's better to store and save it even at the cost of losing some of the benefits.

Of course, in the context of Merrye Olde Englande, it might even have to do with hiding the goods away from taxation. I recall that, due to various taxes that stacked up over time, Englishmen in various places kept being forced off their favorite beverages onto other, cheaper brews. Local-made cider could probably dodge the taxman.
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Old 01-31-2017, 07:49 PM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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Originally Posted by Atamasama View Post
I have trouble seeing a hungry peasant taking an apple, squeezing out the juice, and discarding all of the fiber, calories, and other nutrition you'd receive from eating the apple.
what makes you think a peasant back then had even the faintest notion of fiber, calories, or other nutrition?
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Old 01-31-2017, 08:43 PM
smiling bandit smiling bandit is offline
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what makes you think a peasant back then had even the faintest notion of fiber, calories, or other nutrition?
I know you weren't responding to me, but actually - yeah, they did. Not in so many words, but people managed to eat dinners for eons before nutritional science, and will go long afterwards even if it it ends up debunked. Our bodies are really, really good at pointing us towards good sources of energy, and given half the chance will urge us to find nutritionally-complete meals as well.*

There are entire cuisines dedicated to extracting maximum value of calories, sometimes in pretty strange ways, or trying things until they could make a weird or barely-edible energy source palatable. Peasants around the world had to work hard to get by, and they needed a lot of energy to keep going. For example, the Medieval French wine industry produced drinks that were absolutely packed with calories. They didn't know what a calorie was, but they knew it was fuel for the body.


*Not that's it's always possible, and there are a few diets which are satisfying but missing some vital nutrients. Also, some places on earth are annoyingly lacking in some of the relatively rare micro-nutrients - and the exact cause of local problems wasn't necessarily discovered until the 20th century.
  #49  
Old 02-01-2017, 12:29 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is online now
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Originally Posted by smiling bandit View Post
This is pretty absurd, and the implication outside of the enlightened "urban trendsters" nobodies eats vegetables is frankly ridiculous.
Well, sure, if you classify pizza sauce as a vegetable...
Quote:
You can walk into nearly any supermarket in America and find between four and six varieties of apple, depending on the season.
Sure, but people buy and eat Delicious.
Quote:
Fresh fruit you can actually eat beats imaginary food that doesn't exist, no matter how good your imagination.
Sure, imagination...
Quote:
Second, nobody in Medieval anywhere had "dozens of varieties" of anything. Even in season, you would have access to one variety of apple, or any other fruit or vegetable, if you were lucky.
Bullshit. They had different apple varietals for different purposes, just like we do. Those are just English varietals, France had more. Pliny reported 2 dozen kinds. But I'm sure none of those made it to the Middle Ages. in Italy..[
Quote:
If you didn't happen to live near an orchard, then you might be able to gather some apples of a random tree that happened to be on your land, or barter with a trader.
Most people were peasants, they all "happened to live" near orchards or gardens.
Quote:
They were likely to be rather sour if not grafted by an experienced grower.
Yes, it would doubtless be hard to find experienced pomiculturalists in areas where people had made their living as farmers for generations

Last edited by MrDibble; 02-01-2017 at 12:33 AM.
  #50  
Old 02-01-2017, 12:36 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is online now
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Originally Posted by Atamasama View Post
Though England seems to be more cider-crazy than the rest of the world
It's quite popular in France, especially Normandy and Brittany.
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