Good Morning! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday yesterday. Did anyone have a cook out? We did
And as we were BBQing last evening, it reminded me that not always did we have the convenience of food from grocery stores like we do today. What did people used to do? What were their diets? What did the American Indians eat? And did it promote good health?
As I’m sure most of you know, in the West, the buffalo was the staff of life. Tribes revolved around the buffalo. It was wild, it was natural and it provided a constant source of food. Everything was used and no part of the buffalo (or any other animal for that matter) was wasted. Its brain was used to tan clothing, its hide was used for tepees, for mocassins, for shields and many, many other uses. Its liver was eaten raw and its meat was roasted and eaten and the people feasted when times were good. Its meat was also dried for winter when it would be harder for hunters to provide meat for their families.
Western tribes also had a varied diet, rich in bone-broth soups, wild turnips, onions and other roots and plants, not to mention many fruits, like strawberries, plums, choke cherries — to name only a few. Okay, so what was the result of this diet that contained no preservatives, no chemicals, no food additives and were completely natural and wholesome? According to travelers in the very early 1800’s, the Indians were described as a race of men who might put Adonis to shame. Tall, strong, with full teeth (even into old age in many cases), they were described as a tribe of perfect physique. Not only that, if one didn’t die from wars or from accidents, etc., most lived to quite an old age, and with full mental clarity.
This picture is of a woman who was almost 100 years old. And what about the Eastern tribes, who didn’t have the buffalo? Indians from South America, Mexico and the SW of the United States — as well as Indians along the Eastern Seaboard, built their cultures on corn. For the Iroquois, there were the three sisters: corn, beans and squash — they were all planted together, by the way. The corn stalk would act as a post for the beans, while the squash provided a wonderful ground cover. These three sisters (along with some fresh meat, also) provided a good and varied diet. Corn was the staple of life to these Eastern tribes — deer meat was the meat of choice. But corn reigned supreme.
Please be aware, however, that when Columbus was given a few grains of corn, which he took back to Europe, he didn’t at the same time take the recipes for making corn into the “staple of life.” American Indians knew that you had to soak the corn or cook it in wood ash (or as we do nowadays, in limewater — lime, the mineral, not the fruit). Soaking or cooking it in this way changed the amino acid structure of the grain so that it became a full protein.
Again,what were the comments from people at the time, who met with the Indians? Again, they were a strong and vital people, compared again to Greek statues for their manliness and beauty. Again, they lived to a vital old age if not killed by accident or in some war. Foods were used, by the way, not only as nourishment, but as “cures” for many of the illnesses that they suffered. We also have many similar kind of “cures” today — chicken soup for a stomach ache is one example. Kelp for lumphs, goiter, etc.
Until the white man came with their many and varied diseases, disease as such was rare. Their diet provided them with a whoesome, completely nutritious guard against disease. Somehow, they knew also how to prepare their food to get the most nutrition out of it. Again, a good example is corn — another example is acorns, which I’ve heard if prepared in the American Indian way, is quite good.
Did they have ice cream cones? No, they didn’t — and maybe that’s what makes our culture so great — ice cream! But one thing they did know, that we seem to have lost in our modern age, is that whole food processed according to nature in some cases (not man’s chemicals), made for a healthy body — which is at least part of the journey toward happiness, I would think.
Now, if you’re interested, there’s a book called Traditional Foods Are Your Best Medicine — by Ronald F. Schmid, N.D. In this book he talks about the diets of centenarians — people who live to over 100 years in age — specifically the Vilcabamba, Hunza, and Georgian Russia who have many, many people who have lived to this grand age — and their diets.
So what do you think? Have I tickled your interest in perhaps learning more about the food you eat? It’s not such a bad idea to do in this day and age of Genetically Modified Foods — where the bio-chemists are now able to insert genes from other species into plants and even insert pesticides into every cell of a plant. Come on in and let’s talk.
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