Let’s pretend that you are a peasant living in Carolingian Francia around the year 850. How did people catch fish in the Middle Ages, and what efforts were made to keep this resource sustainable? Researchers say there was little direct evidence of medieval diet until now (PA) Sushi: Sushi was eaten during the medieval period. Anything that grew, besides poisonous plants, was put in the pot to make the peasants’ meals 14 . Dr Dunne added: “Food and diet are central to understanding daily life in the medieval period, particularly for the medieval peasant. The peasants’ main food was a dark bread made out of rye grain. Middle Ages Food and Diet of the Lower Classes / Peasants The Middle Ages food and diet of the peasants was very much home grown. Period pieces made for television or the theater often portray medieval peasants as subsisting on pale slop and beer, for the most part, but the diet of … Medieval society was stratified and strictly divided into classes. A reconstruction drawing of the West Cotton medieval village. The Peasant’s Diet. The late Middle Ages saw improvement in the peasants’ diet and in the variety of what was available to them. Furthermore, the nobles, lords, and kings all vied for more power and more wealth – and to achieve their greedy goals they relied on the poor peasants that served them. The main meal eaten by Medieval peasants was a kind of stew called pottage made from the peas, beans and onions that they grew in their gardens. But seasonal fluctuations in food availability and poor harvests often caused long periods of very poor nutrition. Members of the lower class and peasants had to settle for salted pork and barley bread. During this time, it was easier for peasants to obtain foods, such as meat, that were once reserved almost exclusively for the wealthy. Historical documents state that medieval peasants ate meat, fish, dairy products, fruit and vegetables. Elsewhere, Medieval Meals highlights the religious and culinary boundaries that shaped the peasants’ diets and made them so different from our own. Eating exclusively raw food is a modern trend that would have confounded medieval folks. One example of where archaeology is spreading much-needed light is on the diet of the English common folk (often erroneously called peasants) of medieval times. Since they carried out heavy work and subjected to severe weather conditions during the winter period, Medieval peasants needed to consume many calories a day. If you've ever been to the restaurant Medieval Times or eaten at a Renaissance Faire, then you've been horribly misled about medieval diets. Medieval peasants, on the other hand, had a much simpler diet available to them. Their diets were very limited, mainly bread or pottage with a small proportion of cheese, milk, and bacon13. You are going to get lots of gross-out answers that sum it up as “most people ate inedible pica garbage until they died quite young”. Medieval Food for Peasants. The medieval peasant diet that was 'much healthier' than today's average eating habits: Staples of meat, leafy vegetables and cheese are found in residue inside 500-year-old pottery. Most people would probably consider a diet consisting heavily of grains, beans, and meat to be common fare among those alive in the Medieval era, and they wouldn’t be wrong to assume as much. Most of the wheat they harvested went exclusively to the market, and peasant breads were made from barley and rye, baked into dark heavy loaves. While the peasants had meager diets, the nobility often indulged in all they wanted. Pottage was more popular, for it was cheaper and easier to cook. The medieval peasant’s food and drink was simple and humble fare. From Jeffrey L. Singman, Daily Life in Medieval Europe , Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1999, P. 54 - 55. The share of meat in the diet in the Middle Ages increased after the Black Plague, and towards the end of the Middle Ages counted for about one fifth of the Medieval diet. I’m going to reiterate an old answer to what amounts to the same question. In the late Middle Ages, fish and eggs were consumed instead of meat on fast days and periods of abstinence such as on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the vigils of feast days, Lent, and much of Advent. But after examining the available records, Dr Henderson suggests that medieval meals were perhaps even better than the much touted "Mediterranean" diet enjoyed by the Romans. Fish was a staple food of the medieval Christian diet. Peasants basically ate what they could, which was often gruel, sometimes flavored with greens or if they were lucky some bacon. From Jeffrey L. Singman, Daily Life in Medieval Europe, Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1999, P. 54 - 55. Fish was plentiful and could be obtained from the rivers and streams. In the Middle Ages, food was consumed at about 4,000 calories a day for peasants, but they burned around 4,500 calories each day in manual labor. The peasant's diet rates high on modern nutrition standards. The peasants often kept chickens that provided them with fresh eggs. Jason begins a journey through the social strata of the medieval age by taking a look at the kinds of food the knight might have experienced in his travels. The Japanese diet for centuries has been rice, Especially for the peasants during the medieval era, Rice was introduced to Japan by a group of people Vegitables and Fruits were an important part of the known as the Yayoi roughly 2,000 years ago. In Medieval Europe, people's diets were very much based on their social class. They were unable to afford luxury items such as spices and only Lords and Nobles were allowed to hunt deer, boar, hares and rabbits. Though Roman London did have a sewer system that emptied into the River Thames and its connected streams, it fell into disuse by the medieval period. Researchers from The British Library Board say, in fact, "All fruit and vegetables were cooked - it was believed that raw fruit and vegetables caused disease." Before delving into the types of foods that people ate in the Middle Ages, it is necessary to be aware of the social distinctions present at the time. The punishment for poaching could result in death or having hands cut off. People at a medieval banquet. ( Archivist /Adobe Stock) Medieval peasants were contending with the Black Death and the Crusades, and much of what they ate in a day was a reflection of what they had on hand. The European medieval diet was decided by social class. Compare that to modern Americans, who eat about 3,000 calories a day but burn only 2,000. Enormous. The grains were boiled whole in soup or stew ground into flour, or melted or brewed into ale. Jason Kingsley OBE of Modern History TV invited food historian Chris Carr in the preparation of what would a typical meal prepared by peasants, farmers and innkeepers during the medieval times. Diet restrictions depending on social class. In the realms of medieval food, the Black Death can be seen as something of an equalizer. Peasants began to … While the nobility could afford top quality meat, sugar, exotic fruit and spices imported from Asia, peasants often consumed their own produce, which included bread, porridge, peas, onions, carrots, cabbage and other vegetables, as well as dairy products and very occasionally meat. Survivors of the Black Death benefited from the demographic catastrophe by reason of the reduced overall demand for food and the greater value of their labor. These included rosemary, basil, chives and parsley. Peasants during the Middle Ages often survived off of cabbage stew, bog-preserved butter, meat pies, and in desperate times, poached deer. In medieval society, food was a sign of social distinction. As in the modern day, the food and drink of Medieval England varied dramatically. A general estimate of the caloric intake for males during the Middle Ages is an average of 3,000 calories. But if you were attending a fancy medieval … For most of the peasants, they ate grains such as, rye, wheat, oats or barley (carbohydrates). Barely — a staple of the medieval peasant diet (Photo by Samet Kurtkus on Unsplash). But the Shropshire GP accepts that life for even prosperous peasants was tough. Bread served as an effective and affordable source of calories, an important thing to consider for a Medieval peasant who might have a long 12-hour day on their feet to look forward to.