I’ve always understood northern peoples like Scandinavians and Scottish people were very healthy and at least very long lived. My relatives of these nationalities and the ancestors I can find certainly were. The question is, HOW DID NORTHERN PEOPLES COME UP WITH FIVE SERVINGS OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES A DAY!!!? for all those aeons until now when they can import lots of them.
Scottish people? Healthy? I think they have the highest rate of heart disease in Europe! Most of them can’t conceive of a meal that isn’t deep fried and/or doesn’t contain ground meat of some variety. I won’t even get into deep-fried Mars bars. Here it’s the mediterranean people who have the reputation for being long-lived – all that garlic, wine, and olive oil.
As for your original question, there are plenty of fruits and veggies here. Scotland stays pretty green year-round; it’s by no means without plant life (although parts of the highlands can be pretty desolate – but very few people live there, even today).
No, I mean how did they live up north since hundreds of thousands of years without five servings of fruits and vegetables, and survive to now? I can’t imagine them eating anything much but salted down fish and meat all these centuries, and my grandparents lived into their late80’s with no heart attack problems at all and we always had rich gravy with our turkey and pork chops, etc., and lots of cheese and other now completely forbidden milk products and eggs that you aren’t supposed to eat anymore. All they died of was pneumonia. So why do WE have to have all these completely tasteless fruits and vegetables all of a sudden for a long life? Apples and oranges are totally flavorless no matter which kind, and apples are mealy and miserable. Who can eat such things? (Hijack: what happened to the flavor of for example oranges since I was a child? Do I have to go to California for an orange? Why are apples so odd inside? Tomatoes are still good if you get them on those vine stems, especially the small cherry tomatoes, butnot the rest. And on and on.)
Well, you can try eating raw seal meat, like the Inuit. An excellent source of Vitamin C.
Practically speaking: different peoples evolved different dietary needs. Compare the lactose-intolerant Chinese with the Masai who can survive off nothing but cattle byproducts and the Inuit that get their vitamin C from raw meat. Presumably the Europeans whose descendents need many servings of fruits and vegetables to stay healthy had access to a great deal of fruits and vegetables and evolved a need for them.
Doesn’t anyone read the columns (the whole purpose of this site, after all!) anymore? This was up less than a month ago!
Oh, I forgot to mention: If you’re eating flavorless apples and oranges, you’re buying them from the wrong places. I haven’t had any trouble finding good ones, at least out here. On tomatoes, though, I’ve got to agree: It’s impossible to find good tomatoes anymore without growing them yourself.
Ug. The apples you buy are flavorless AND mealy? The apples at my local grocery store are flavorless, but at least they’re crisp!
Grocery store produce has been declining for many years. If you want good tasting produce, you need to find a farmers market. You’d be surprised, even large cities have them. Some farmers markets are big public events where farmers from all around gather to sell their goods. It’s like a flea market. Others are little stores that sell locally grown produce.
You can also look for health food stores that sell produce. Many times they will carry locally grown produce. People will tell you “organic” food tastes better - and many times this is true, because it’s locally grown, ripened on the vine, etc.
The absolute best fruit is from “pick it yourself” places. Where I live there are pick it yourself peaches, nectarines, plums, strawberries, blueberries…excuse me, I’m drooling. Luckily for me, my parents enjoy going to these places, and they share with me.
But back to your original question. How could a Scot get 5 servings of fruits and vegatables? I have one word for you: seaweed.
Yes, that’s right. Here’s some recipes:
They had other vegatables as well. Here is a site with a translation of a medieval cookbook:
Here we see recipes for apples, pears, chickpeas, squash, raisins, onions, and greens (turnip greens, spinach, cabbage, etc.). I imagine most of these can be grown in Scotland and Scandinavia.
So yes, they had vegatables. They could eat a big plate of boiled greens and some onion-cheese pie, and be set for the day. Yummy. (Ug. I’m southern, but I’ve never been able to enjoy turnip greens.)
Erm, first of all, could you please explain the connection between what Northern Europeans were eating “all those centuries” and how long your grandparents lived? The question is what your grandparents ate, and remember that the plural of anecdote is not data. Some people smoke, drink heavily and eat crappy diets, yet live forever. Life is a crapshoot.
In any case, Northern Europeans were not living on “salted down fish and meat”. Dried fish was a staple of the Scandinavian diet, but meat was a rare treat for the masses. Porridge/gruel was the backbone of their diet. You needed to keep the goats, sheep, or (if you were rich) cows alive to produce milk for the porridge, as well as for cheese and butter.
Furthermore, fruits and vegetables grow and thrive up here. Not in the same variety as further south, obviously, but enough to provide much needed vitamins and other nutrition. Apples, pears, strawberries, rhubarb, cabbage, carrots, celleriac, various members of the turnip family, and let us not forget the humble potato, which saved uncounted thousands of lives when it was introduced to Europe. But for the most part, no, people did not get five servings of fruits and vegetables a day until the 20th century, and for the most part they died before they were old enough to develop heart disease.
I only read the column when I go up to the city, which isn’t often because there is no place to park. I live about
25 long, long miles of hellish driving on 57, the Dan
Ryan, and the Kennedy Exressway south of the Loop of Chicago. I bring back piles of READERS for the coffee houses out here when I do motor up there. The READER refuses to serve the suburbs.
flodnak, that phrase made this entire thread worth reading