Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Slave vs Free Diet

My Dad sent me this article a while back and I thought it was pretty sad. I have summarized it below…

Slaves Ate Better Than Modern African Americans.

The ideal way back to health for blacks is to return to the patterns of our ancestors who lived and worked in Colonial America. Few people are actually aware of the African slaves and their actual lifestyle. African slaves were actually the healthiest Americans that ever lived. Hard to believe I know. We have been bombarded by images of emaciated slaves that suffered under the summer’s excruciating heat; however this required physical endurance and stamina that actually made them stronger. Most were in near-perfect health. Their diet consisted of a large variety of garden-grown vegetables.

Unlike today’s typical American diet, the slaves frequently ate vegetables and fruit, which were often in abundance during the South’s extended growing season. Research has confirmed that slaves typically ate 6 to 8 servings of fruit and vegetables DAILY!!!


The typical slave’s day consisted of 11 to 13 hours of consistent work. They were often in the field from the time the sun rose until beyond dusk. Breakfast and lunch (as we currently know it) didn’t really exist for slaves. They often ate raw vegetables or gathered fallen fruit and nuts from the trees that surrounded their workplace. This food would often be the only food that was eaten all day until they returned to their quarters. “Once home, they would prepare communal meals for the entire slave community.” The foods served during these meals were the key to the slave’s good health. They sometimes even planted small gardens adjacent to the slaves’ cabins which also produce fresh food for the majority of the year. These gardens sometimes produce up to 15 or more different kinds of vegetables. The evening communal meals often consisted of a vegetable stew/soup (from the garden), and potatoes or rice from the rations provided by the slave owners. The vegetables reflected what was available to them at them time. This included carrots, squash, onions, peppers, okra, yams, tomatoes, leafy greens, corn, rice and potatoes.

According to Wiley Mullins, creator of Wiley’s Healthy Seasonings and Spices, “The variety of produce consumed by the early African Americans provided them with stamina and nutritional empowerment necessary to do the demanding daily tasks that were before them.”Mullins states, “Recent nutritional research endorses the need to daily consume a variety of produce, especially colorful produce. Different colored produce naturally contain different nutrients, and these nutrients work in the body to protect the body from illness and disease.”

Mullins says the slaves did four things right:

  1. They ate whole natural plan-based foods daily. Meat and fish weren’t easily accessible, and were eaten very infrequently.
  2. Lots of water was consumed daily. Water was the primary beverage, with very limited consumption of bark teas.
  3. The foods eaten were simple and easily digestible. Raw vegetables, fruits and nuts were eaten during the day.
  4. The dinner meal was a “powerhouse of nutrition” featuring a large combination of colorful produce.

However, today most blacks consume less than 3 servings of vegetables and fruits. So many meals are eaten away from home and often these meals consist of a potatoe or rice dish with little to no other colorful vegetables. Preparing meals at home gives you more control over what is served.

Deep Red Colored fruits and vegetables should be eaten every day. Red colored produce like tomatoes, watermelons and pink grapefruits contain lycopene, a cancer fighter. Lycopene has been proven to fight the onset of prostate cancer. African Americans men have the highest rate of prostate cancer in the world."

"Blue and Purple colored fruits and vegetables contain two disease fighting phytochemicals. These powerful antioxidants help reduce the risk of disease including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and may even slow the aging process. Memory loss occurs after age 50 for most people, and eating berries like blueberries and blackberries may help to reverse this trend."

"Dark Green Colored Vegetables such as collards, turnip greens, kale and spinach should be eaten every day. These nutritional powerhouses are loaded with lutien (pronounced LOO-ten). Lutien is an antioxidant that helps reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Other green veggies like cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli help protect against breast cancer (which affects one out of every eight U.S. women) and prostate cancer (which affects one out of every six men in the U.S.)."

"Deep orange colored and bright yellow colored fruits and vegetables should be eaten often. Vegetables such as yams, carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkins all contain beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant that reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease. Other fruits and veggies like lemons, yellow bell peppers, oranges, yellow raisins and pears contain bioflavoniods that work together with Vitamin C to keep bodies healthy, strengthen bones and teeth, help heal wounds, keep skin healthy and lower the risk of heart attack."

"White colored produce like onions, leeks and garlic may be lacking in color but they contain a powerful nutrient called allicin. Allicin may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and increase the body’s ability to fight infection. Nutrition research shows that eating vegetables from the onion family may speed recovery from colds, reduce the risk of heart attacks, and may even stop the spread of certain cancers, particularly stomach and colon cancer.”

Source Article

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