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Author Topic: How to eat like a Victorian  (Read 495 times)
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« on: October 16, 2016, 06:51:07 am »




Although Victorians faced many public health problems, could it be that they ate more healthily than us? Michael Mosley investigates.

Many of us like the fantasy of being a time traveller, popping back to see how people out of our history books really lived. Over the last few months I've been making a series in which a group of volunteers have experienced for themselves something of what their ancestors had to endure, by living in a reconstructed Victorian slum.

Although they had a tough time, none of our volunteers had to put up with the wide range of lethal microbes that killed so many in London's East End in the mid-Victorian period. Nor was their food quite as unpalatable as it would have been then, though they were often hungry.

In Victorian times few slum dwellers would have had ovens or cooking utensils. Many didn't even own plates or spoons. They lived mainly on bread, gruel and broth (made from boiling up bones). Not surprisingly, the children of the slums were undernourished, anaemic, rickety and very short.





A study which compared the different heights of Victorian youths, based on their class and their income - On British Pygmies and Giants - makes particularly shocking reading. The study found that young recruits to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, who came largely from a middle or upper class background, were amongst the tallest young men in the world at that time, averaging almost 175cm (5ft 9in)

By contrast, 16-year-old boys from the slums who were recruited by the Marine Society, a charity set up to provide the Navy with a regular supply of manpower, were 22cm (8.6in) shorter.

If you were not at the bottom of the heap, then things were quite a lot better. In some ways Victorians had a healthier diet than we do now because they ate much more nutrient-rich food and consumed far less sugar and processed food.




A typical breakfast might consist of stoneground bread smeared with dripping or lard (consisting largely of healthy monounsaturated fats), accompanied by a large bunch of watercress, rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

There were plenty of cheap, seasonal vegetables to be found in the markets, including onions, cabbage, leeks, carrots and turnips. The main fruits were apples in the winter and cherries in the summer.

The Victorians also ate lots of healthy, fibre-rich nuts, such as chestnuts and hazelnuts, which were often roasted and bought from street-corner sellers.
Meat was relatively expensive, though you could buy a sheep's head for about 3d (£2.50 in modern money). Instead they ate plenty of omega-3-rich oily fish and seafood. Herrings, sprats, eels, oysters, mussels, cockles and whelks, were all popular, as were cod and haddock.


A shellfish stall in Victorian London


According to a study published in the Royal Society of Medicine, "How the Mid-Victorians Worked, Ate and Died", the combination of enormous amounts of physical activity (most people did physically demanding jobs which meant they were active for 50 to 60 hours a week) and a diet rich in fruits, whole grains, oily fish and vegetables meant that Victorians suffered less from chronic, degenerative diseases than we do.

Dr Paul Clayton, one of the authors of the study, claims that they were "90% less likely to develop cancer, dementia and coronary artery disease than we are today". It certainly meant that diseases like type-2 diabetes, which plague modern society, were vanishingly rare.



The low-carb Victorian diet

Although they ate far more calories than we do, because they were so active, obese Victorians were relatively rare. William Banting, a Victorian undertaker, was an exception. He was apparently so fat he had to go down the stairs backwards. His family were funeral directors to the Royal Household and oversaw the funerals of the Duke of Wellington, Prince Albert and Queen Victoria herself.

William Banting, however, is chiefly famous for being the first person to popularise a low-carb diet. In a booklet he self-published in 1863, A Letter on Corpulence, he describes how he lost over 40lb (18kg) in just a few months by cutting out foods such as bread, sugar, beer and potatoes. Despite a contemptuous response from the medical profession, his modest booklet went on to become a bestseller and "to bant" became a popular term for dieting. One of Banting's descendants, Sir Frederick Banting, would later win the Nobel Prize for pioneering the use of insulin in the treatment of diabetes.

Other Victorian Innovations include:

The modern breakfast

In the early years of the Victorian era breakfast would have consisted, if you could afford it, of cold meats, cheese and beer. In time this was replaced by porridge, fish, eggs and bacon - the "full English". By the end of the 19th Century, however, this relatively healthy start to the day was being challenged by manufacturers of sugary breakfast cereals, pioneered by people like Dr John Harvey Kellogg.

Dr Kellogg, who had strange views about sex and eugenics, is said to have invented Corn Flakes as part of his health regimen to prevent masturbation, a subject he was absolutely obsessed by. He was convinced that replacing meat and eggs with bland foods, like corn flakes, would reduce excitement and arousal in young men. He also recommended a daily enema. Of yoghurt.





The Sunday lunch

For many Victorians Sunday was the only day of rest they would get (a 12-hour day, six days a week was common). It was also the only day when they would eat meat. So began the custom of buying a small joint of beef, pork or mutton to be shared with the family, accompanied by lots of vegetables, potatoes and gravy. If you couldn't afford a roast joint then there was always offal, such as liver, tongue or heart.

The three-course dinner


Queen Victoria - a glutton and a fast eater

The Victorian era saw the introduction of two or three-course meals, with the courses arriving in sequence, one at a time. Before that the courses all tended to arrive at once. Queen Victoria, who was something of a glutton, was able to put away seven courses in less than half an hour. Since everyone was served after the Queen, and when she had finished all the plates were cleared, there was a good chance you would be leaving one of her magnificent banquets very hungry.


Michael Mosley presents The Victorian Slum on BBC Two on Mondays at 21:00 BST - catch up on BBC iPlayer

Reproduced from the BBC News website:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-37654373
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2016, 08:56:09 am »

Quote
A typical breakfast might consist of stoneground bread smeared with dripping or lard (consisting largely of healthy monounsaturated fats), accompanied by a large bunch of watercress, rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

*snip*

This relatively healthy start to the day was being challenged by manufacturers of sugary breakfast cereals, pioneered by people like Dr John Harvey Kellogg.



My good sir. I see a bit of Trans-Atlantic mud slinging going on here. On behalf of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg I feel I must vehemently protest.

You see, Corn Flakes, as Dr. Kellogg's original formulation is known, was, and is even today, completely devoid of sugar. It was his brother William Keith Kellogg who founded the cereal company, and much to the chagrin of his brother John Harvey, sugar was added to a differently named product to "appeal to a mass audience." This decision created a severe rift between John Harvey and his brother William. Today the sugary alternative is known as Frosted Flakes, which is not a version authorised as part of the healthy diet espoused by Dr. J. H. Kellogg.

The original diet had religious overtones, yes, but the Seventh-day Adventist Church, in their ideal diet, believed that sweet foods could "increase passion." So, as you can see, sugar is definitely not a good ingredient to add to a devout Christian's  diet Roll Eyes

Quote
The accidental legacy of corn flakes goes back to the late 19th century, when a team of Seventh-day Adventists began to develop new food to adhere to the vegetarian diet recommended by the church. Members of the group experimented with a number of different grains, including wheat, oats, rice, barley, and corn.

In 1894, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the superintendent of The Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan and an Adventist, used these recipes as part of a strict vegetarian regimen for his patients, which also included no alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine. The diet he imposed consisted entirely of bland foods. A follower of Sylvester Graham, the inventor of graham crackers and graham bread, Kellogg believed that spicy or sweet foods would increase passions.

This idea for corn flakes began by accident when Kellogg and his younger brother, Will Keith Kellogg, left some cooked wheat to sit while they attended to some pressing matters at the sanitarium. When they returned, they found that the wheat had gone stale, but being on a strict budget, so they decided to continue to process it by forcing it through rollers, hoping to obtain long sheets of the dough. To their surprise, what they found instead were flakes, which they toasted and served to their patients.

Dr. Kellogg introduced Kellogg Corn Flakes in hopes that it would reduce masturbation.[6] In fact, Kellogg devoted much of his energy to discouraging sexual activity of any kind, and was an especially ardent critic of masturbation, which he believed could cause "cancer of the womb, urinary diseases, nocturnal emissions, impotence, epilepsy, insanity, and mental and physical debility" as well as "dimness of vision" and moral corruption.

The flakes of grain, which the Kelloggs called granose, were a very popular food among the patients. The brothers then experimented with other flakes from other grains. In 1906, Will Keith Kellogg, who served as the business manager of the sanitarium, decided to try to mass-market the new food. At his new company, Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, he added sugar to the flakes to make them more palatable to a mass audience, but this caused a rift between his brother and him.

The negative effects of sugar in the cereal would soon become too apparent. Even ladies at the market would shamelessly wink at their grocers, which in itself is evidence of the intoxicating libidous effects of sugar.

In fact, it was not happenstance, but probably the ingestion of the sin-inducing cane granules which caused the fallout between brothers, and may even have driven one of Dr. Kellogg's patients, C. W. Post, to madness, and to betray the good doctor, by founding a rival company. Grin

Quote
In 1907, his same company ran an ad campaign which offered a free box of cereal to any woman who winked at her grocer (!) To increase sales, in 1909, he added a special offer, the Funny Jungleland Moving Pictures Booklet, which was made available to anyone who bought two boxes of the cereal. This same premium was offered for 22 years. At the same time, Kellogg also began experimenting with new grain cereals to expand his product line.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Harvey_Kellogg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corn_flakes

Further, I believe lard is not an ideal breakfast food either; That it consists of 56% of unsaturated fats is no consolation when in fact it is also composed of as much as 43% saturated fats.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lard

But it is not the cardiovascular effect of saturated fat on the body which I deplore, but rather the addictive effects of fat on the human body which drive the hapless soul to commit further sin in the form of gluttony! Gluttony leads to damnation!

So, my good sir, on behalf of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and his well deserved reputation, I demand an earnest apology!

« Last Edit: October 16, 2016, 09:41:09 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged

SeVeNeVeS
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« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2016, 09:35:15 am »

So the apparent obsession with masturbation, colonic irrigation and eugenics doesn't worry you then? Sugar, schmugar, the man was mad as a hatter!

No Trans-Atlantic mud slinging as far as I can see, I for one prefer my yoghurt to be taken in from the other end and let nature take its natural course.  Grin
« Last Edit: October 16, 2016, 09:46:17 am by SeVeNeVeS » Logged

J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2016, 09:45:32 am »

So the apparent obsession with masturbation and colonic irrigation doesn't worry you then? Sugar, schmugar, the man was mad as a hatter!

No Trans-Atlantic mud slinging as far as I can see, I for one prefer my yoghurt to be taken in from the other end and let nature take its natural course.  Grin


But lust leads to damnation! Just as sugar and fat will!  Grin


~ ~ ~
Well you have to give him credit for originating more than a handful of fetishes...  Grin I'm willing to bet that his sanatorium was rife with carnal pleasures...

The Road To Wellville Trailer 1994
« Last Edit: October 16, 2016, 09:48:37 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
SeVeNeVeS
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« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2016, 09:54:39 am »

Well the company logo is a cockerel, more commonly known as a cock Tongue Grin
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