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Medieval Serfs Ate Better Than We Eat

Here we are, the wealthiest nation on earth, from any time ever, with the greatest abundance of calories, variety, and nutrition, and wouldn’t you know: medieval peasants were healthier than we are.

The average peasant loaded up on root vegetables (referred to as “pot herbs”), greens, several pints of antioxidant-loaded, nutrient-rich, full-bodied beer, and small portions of grass-fed meat or fresh fish totaling about 8 ounces by days’ end. Daily bulk was provided in the form of millet, oats, and other sturdy, fibrous whole grains. Of course, peasants spent a minimum of 12 hours in hard labor every day, so their bodies quickly burned off the beer and barley.

It’s often repeated that our ancestors lived half as long as we do. That is true, but it’s not as if 35-year-old men of Medieval times were graying and decrepit. They looked much like a 35-year-old would today, only a bit shorter and smaller. People died young, on average, due to pestilence and plague, starvation and war, not genetics. Researchers believe [1] that if you removed such devastating factors, the average peasant would have been healthier and longer-lived than the average Westerner today. While indentured servitude doesn’t sound like a model we want to return to – although I think we could argue we’ve traded it for servitude of another sort – The Man at it again, the successful bastard – long bouts of low-grade exercise focused on moving, pushing, and pulling, coupled with utterly unprocessed, local, organic, fresh foods comprised of plants and protein and fiber, seems like a pretty good recipe for health and longevity to me.

hans s [2] and jurvetson [3] Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

Would Grok Chow the Cheese Plate? [4]

Which Fork is for the Grubs? [5]

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