Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Slave Diets Healthier than Modern African American Diet

Pacific News:

Few people know about African slaves and their lifestyle. Believe it or not, the slaves were perhaps the healthiest Americans who ever lived.

We’ve all seen pictures and images of Black slaves suffering from thankless backbreaking work in the excruciating summer’s heat. The physical endurance and stamina required for this work made them strong.

However, we have now come to learn that it was the slaves’ diet that was primarily responsible for their near-perfect health. Their diet consisted of a huge variety of garden-grown vegetables.

Unlike today’s typical American diet, the slaves feasted on a huge variety of vegetables and fruits, which were in great abundance during the South’s extended growing season.

Research confirms that the slaves typically ate six to eight servings of fruit and vegetables daily.

How could this be possible? The typical field slave’s day consisted of 11 to 13 hours daily of consistent work. They were often in the field when the sun rose beyond the quiet horizon and continued in the fields throughout the day until almost dusk.

Breakfast and lunch as we know it didn’t exist for the slaves. They often ate raw vegetables or gathered fallen fruit and nuts from trees that surrounded their workplace.

This food would be the only food that was eaten all day until they returned home to their quarters. Once home, they would prepare communal meals for the entire slave community.

The items served at these nightly gatherings were the key to the slaves’ good health. Small gardens that were planted adjacent to the slaves’ cabins produced an abundance of fresh produce for the majority of the year. These gardens oftentimes produced 15 or more different vegetables.

The evening meal consisted of a vegetable stew or soup created from vegetables from the garden, and potatoes or rice from rations provided by the slave owners. These ingredients would be boiled in water until done.

The vegetables reflected what was available to the slaves at the time. Combinations including 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.”

The brilliancy of the slaves is as demonstrative as it gets on what one can do to secure wellness. Of course, regular physical exercise is a given, and the slaves certainly got plenty of that. Food was the key then and is certainly the key now to secure a “wellness” lifestyle.

Mullins says the slaves did four things right:

They ate whole natural plan-based foods daily. Meat and fish weren’t easily accessible, and were eaten very infrequently.

Lots of water was consumed daily. Water was the primary beverage, with very limited consumption of bark teas.

The foods eaten were simple and easily digestible. Raw vegetables, fruits and nuts were eaten during the day.

The dinner meal was a “powerhouse of nutrition” featuring a large combination of colorful produce.

Unfortunately, most African Americans today, like all other Americans, consume less than three servings of produce daily. Because so many meals are eaten away from home, oftentimes these servings consist of a potato or rice dish and no other colorful vegetable.

Ironic to think that one of the consequences of the end of slavery was a reduction in the health of African-Americans due to poor diet.


At 7:06 AM, Blogger john fitzgerald said...

Would this also be true for the original American slaves, the white ones that is, before the cotton pickers came along - yes I know, very heavy work.
Most of the white ones died of course but who cares, they were white after all?
And while on the subject isn't it about time every african apologised for the million or so whites abduted into slavery, but not under quite the same conditions as the groids had in christian america.

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