Our grandparents and great-grandparents did not all die young. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams lived into their 80's and 90's! Infant deaths skewed the data, giving us a low AVERAGE life expectancy. People died of infections such as tuberculosis, malnutrition, and accidents. But there was virtually no heart disease, cancer, diabetes or obesity or other diseases we associate with age. http://www.weedemandreap.com/ancestors-live-bacon-lard-milk/
What can we learn from our long-lived ancestors?
Eat food as Nature provides it and develop clever ways to preserve it in a natural state.
Canning is over 300 years old. The tin can was invented in Britain in the early 1800’s. Before that, meat was preserved by salting it. Seamen died by the droves for lack of vital nutrients on long sea voyages. A diet of biscuits and salted meat did not sustain life and scurvy could be a death sentence, perhaps killing more than half of those who served during the Seven Years’ War in the 1750’s.
Food was also heated and in glass bottles, and then placed in boiling water by Nicholas Appert. Sterilization was not yet known, so Monsieur Appert was ahead of his time. This method preserved fruits and vegetables and vinegars. But the tin can was important because it could preserve meat without spoiling.
The oldest surviving tin can is in the London Science Museum. It weighs seven pounds and is filled with venal, and was taken by Sir William Parry when he explored the Northwest Passage. Sir Parry was searching for a route from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. He held the record for reaching the highest northern latitude of any European explorer for five decades. Apparently he favored fish on his sea voyage, since the tinned meat made it back intact.
Tinned foods remained a military staple until they were shown to the civilian public at the Grand Exhibition of 1851.
There were several scandals involving food canning, ranging from putrid meat to reports of lead poisoning from poor soldering. People were skeptical about the quality and dissatisfied with the taste of canned meats and vegetables.
The first canned food to gain popularity was condensed milk. Urban farming was affected by the trend towards canned milk and improvements in transportation made global market penetration a possibility.
The American Civil War increased canned food production six-fold. In 1896, technological advances improved speed and sealing techniques. English foods could be exported around the Globe, since the sun never set on the far-flung British empire.
All this while, since the invention of the tin can, there was no easy means of opening the cans developed. Bayonets and knives were used by soldiers and sailors. But the housewives and household cooks did not have a double wheel, serrated, can opener until 1925.
During the New Deal President Franklin Roosevelt’s program delivered 692 million pounds of food to hungry American people, much of it canned beef. Canned fish because affordable to people living hundreds of miles inland, and tropical fruits could be shipped to cold climates.
Don’t forget that the American invention of soda pop is served up in cans, not to mention the favorite of many-beer. The first beer in a can appeared in 1935, and sodas followed. Cans were made either of aluminum (75% of world production) or tin. An interior liner was developed, from plastic or a waxy substance, to protect against a chemical reaction with the metal that might affect the flavor of the soda. “Church Key” latches were invented, which cut a triangular hole in the top of the can to pour out the liquid. The pop tab was invented in 1959 by an Ermal Fraze. The pull tab, although convenient, posed problems with safety, including stuck fingers and swallowing. The tabs were also created litter when people disposed of them on the ground.
Next came the push tab in the mid 70’s, which left a sharp edge that could cut fingers but solved the litter problem. The non-removing Stay Tab was further refined in the 70’s and is still in use today.
It would be interesting to discover if canned foods actually contributed to global population growth, since more preserved food because available. And I hope that it saved the lives of many soldiers and seaman, rather than making war more convenient for those who chose to wage it.
For modern soldiers, campers and hikers pouches and cartons are easy and convenient for preserving foods, weighing far less. However, tin cans are still better at preserving the flavor and the original state of the foods. And tin cans are better for stockpiling in the eventuality of a natural or man-made disaster.
Today we take refrigeration for granted, and it has granted us a means to enjoy fresh foods during every season on a scale our ancestors would have found astonishing.
So many of the foods we eat today don’t need to be preserved, by refrigeration or by canning. Only real food needs preserving. So, the majority of the foods that you see in bags and boxes on the grocery store shelves are shadows of food, punched up with chemicals in the form of flavors and colors. They won’t sustain life. Imagine an army marching on Skittles and Doritos. Or Twinkies, the all-time favorite junk food to bash.
Or imagine a child being raised on the same. Every new cell would be made out of red dye and chemical flavor enhancers.
So, what are your cells being made of? All body conditions must have a component of nutrition influence. Good conditions have a nutritional component and that is the good news. It is actually good news that pain, acne, obesity, diabetes and cancer also have a nutritional component. Because that means you can do something about it.
You can stock your refrigerator with healthy food, but you have to find the time (and inclination) to prepare it. I suggest that you try nutritious shakes and smoothies to start your day and/or fill the gap for those times when you arrive home too tired to cook.
Dr. Royal Lee, the developer of the first multi-vitamin in 1929, said, “One of the biggest tragedies of human civilization is the precedence of chemical therapy over nutrition. It’s a substitution of artificial therapy over nature, of poisons over food, in which we are feeding people poisons trying to correct the reactions of starvation.” He made this statement in 1951 after studying nutritional therapies for twenty-five years.
Food chemistry was really developed after WWII, and was a new field. Imagine how far the field has come today. Scientists know exactly what their research rats need to eat to be healthy, and they know that if they remove any vital nutrient the rats will get sick. We can apply this same principle to humans, but the food companies don’t have to worry about your health, only your marketing buttons. You could go your whole life and hardly ever eat any real nutrient. But you won’t be well. Your body may actually be starving, even if you are carrying 10-100 pounds of extra weight. There is no substitution for what is in real food.
Live as long as Jefferson, Adams, or my great-grandmother who died at 96, but live healthy and strong.
For more about the history of canning see www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21689069