View Single Post
Old 01-27-2017, 06:53 PM
Kimera757 Kimera757 is online now
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 291
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.