Coffee Yesterday and Today

HOW about a cafezinho, freshly made and piping hot? For some, this custom is on the wane, but Brazilians still enjoy the fame of drinking coffee from early morning till late at night.

Inflated cost of coffee has not caused a hurried switch to other drinks. In fact, one third of the world’s population still are coffee drinkers. For instance, every year the Belgians drink 149 liters (39 gallons) of coffee, compared with only six liters (1.6 gallons) of tea. The average American drinks 10 cups of coffee to one of tea. In the Western world, only the British break the general rule by annually consuming six liters of coffee to 261 (69 gallons) of tea.

Brazil holds the title as the world’s largest producer and exporter of coffee. In the first four months of 1977, receipts for exports of this “brown gold” reached the staggering total of $1,000,000,000 for 4.5 million bags, an all-time record.

However, coffee is not at all native to Brazil. Would you like to know how the use of this almost universal drink developed, where it originated, and how it got to Brazil?

Origin and Use

The word “coffee” is derived from the Arabic qahwah, meaning strength, and came to us through the Turkish kahveh. Coffee’s early discovery is shrouded in legend. One story tells about Kaldi, a young Arabian goatherd who noticed his goats’ frolicsome antics after nibbling on the berries and leaves of a certain evergreen shrub. Moved by curiosity, he tried the mysterious little berries himself and was amazed at their exhilarating effect. Word spread and “coffee” was born.

Originally, coffee served as a solid food, then as a wine, later as a medicine and, last, as a common drink. As a medicine, it was and still is prescribed for the treatment of migraine headache, heart disease, chronic asthma and dropsy. (Immoderate use, however, may form excessive gastric acid, cause nervousness and speed up the heartbeat. The common “heartburn” is attributed to this.) As a food, the whole berries were crushed, fat was added and the mixture was put into round forms. Even today some African tribes “eat” coffee. Later on, the coffee berries yielded a kind of wine. Others made a drink by pouring boiling water over the dried shells. Still later, the seeds were dried and roasted, mixed with the shells and made into a beverage. Finally, someone ground the beans in a mortar, the forerunner of coffee grinders.

Coffee in Brazil

Although coffee probably originated in Ethiopia, the Arabs were first to cultivate it, in the fifteenth century. But their monopoly was short-lived. In 1610, the first coffee trees were planted in India. The Dutch began to study its cultivation in 1614. During 1720, French naval officer Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu left Paris for the Antilles, carrying with him some coffee seedlings. Only one survived and was taken to Martinique. From Dutch Guiana coffee spread through the Antilles to French Guiana, and from there Brazilian army officer Francisco de Melo Palheta introduced it to Brazil by way of Belém, doing so about 1727. During the early nineteenth century, coffee cultivation started in Campinas and other cities of São Paulo State, and soon reached other states, especially Paraná.

Nowadays, coffee plantations are planned with technical rigidity. Instead of sowing seeds in the field, seedlings are cultivated in shaded nurseries. About 40 days after planting, the coffee grain germinates. Its unmistakable appearance gave it the name “match stick.” After a year of careful treatment in the nursery, the seedlings are replanted outside.

Usually on hillsides, the seedlings are placed in curved rows to make mechanized field work easier and to prevent soil erosion. Four years after planting, the trees are ready for the first harvest. All the while, irrigation boosts growth and output up to 100 percent.

On the other hand, the coffee grower’s headache is his never-ending fight against insects and plant diseases, such as leaf rust and the coffee-bean borer. Rust is a fungus that attacks the leaves and may kill the tree. The coffee-bean borer is a worm that ruins the beans by eating small holes into them. Of course, there are effective fungicides and insecticides, but their constant use increases production cost.

Preparation of the Coffee Beans

On the plantation, coffee may be prepared by either a “wash” or a “dry” process. It is admitted that the wash process yields a fine quality product, since only ripe coffee berries are selected. But because of less work and lower cost, Brazilian coffee usually goes through the “dry” process.

First, all the berries, from green to dry, are shaken off the bush onto large canvas sheets. Then they are winnowed with special sieves. Next, the berries are rinsed in water canals next to the drying patios, in order to separate the ripe from the unripe and to eliminate impurities. Afterward, they are spread out in layers for drying in the open air and sun. They are turned over frequently so as to allow even drying. Eventually, the dry berries are stored in wood-lined deposits until further use.

The drying process, by the way, is of utmost importance to the final quality of the coffee. Some plantations, therefore, use wood-fired driers for more rapid drying, especially in rainy weather.

In other Latin-American countries and elsewhere, the “wash” process is customary, although it is more time-consuming and costly. First, a pulping machine squeezes the beans out of the skin. They fall into large tanks where they stay for about 24 hours, subject to light fermentation of the “honey,” as the surrounding jellylike substance is called. After fermentation, the “honey” is washed off in washing canals. Next, the coffee is laid out to dry in the sun, as in the “dry” process. Some growers make use of drying machines, perforated revolving drums, in which hot air circulates through the coffee. Finally, the coffee beans pass through hulling and polishing machines. And just as the best quality coffees are hand-picked, so the inspection of the berries after washing is done by hand.

Soon the last step is taken–packing the coffee in jute bags for shipment. The 60-kilogram (132-pound) bag, adopted by Brazil, is held world wide as the statistical unit. Bags are stacked in clean, well-aired warehouses. At last, the coffee is ready for sale.

Classification, Commercialization and Cost

The Instituto Brasileiro do Café (IBC: Brazilian Coffee Institute) supplies technical and economic aid to Brazilian coffee growers and controls the home and export trade. For classification, coffee is judged by its taste and aroma. No chemical test for quality has ever been possible. The senses of smell and taste are still the deciding factors. According to its source, preparation and drying, it is classified as strictly soft, soft (pleasant taste and mild), hard (acid or sharp taste) and rio (very hard type preferred in Rio de Janeiro). Other types are less important to the trade.

For the last 20 years coffee has brought about 50 percent of Brazil’s export receipts. Some 15,500,000 persons are employed in its cultivation and trade. But Camilo Calazans de Magalhães, president of the IBC, warned that 1978 will present an unheard-of situation in the history of the coffee trade. For the first time ever, it will depend entirely on the harvest, as any stocks of Brazilian coffee outside Brazil will be exhausted by then. Additionally, the IBC fears that the specter of problems with frost, insects and diseases may unleash new losses in the 1977/78 and 1978/79 harvests.

Very recently, a series of misfortunes befell some of the world’s large coffee producers, causing scarcity of the product, price increases–and a lot of speculation. It all began in July 1975. Brazil was hit by an exceptional cold spell, which destroyed almost half the plantations, or 200 to 300 million coffee trees. Next, in Colombia, a drought, followed by torrential rains, devastated their plantations. In Angola and Uganda, political unrest affected exports. And then an earthquake struck Guatemala. The “coffee crisis” was on!

While the reserves dropped, tension grew in trade circles. Brazilian coffee was first to go up in price, dragging behind it the Colombian coffea arabica, traditionally more expensive because of its superior quality. The African coffea robusta, usually less esteemed, followed the trend. To make things worse, Brazil imposed an export tax of $100 (U.S.) on each bag, which in April 1977 went up to $134 (U.S.) a bag.

Speculation amplified trade tension, as coffee is bought in advance. It is a veritable gamble. Traders and roasters foresee a “high” and buy up great quantities, which, however, are delivered only months later. The movement gathers speed and prices skyrocket. The IBC permits registering of export sales some months before delivery of the goods, provided the registry fee is paid within 48 hours. Consequently, exporters often “take the risk” of registering sales that, in reality, have not yet been effected. This enables them to favor their clients or take advantage of higher prices.

Despite the upward trend, Brazilians are not yet paying the high coffee prices others have to pay. The Brazilian government is protecting the local coffee roasters, and the price per kilogram (2.2 pounds) is to continue lower than abroad, it being $4.08 (U.S.) in July 1977. Nevertheless, statistics reveal that Brazilians are drinking less coffee. In 1976 the consumption was 3.5 kilograms (7.7 pounds) of ground coffee per person, whereas it was 5.7 kilograms (12.6 pounds) in 1970.

Producers seemed satisfied with the new price policy, since they get more money from the consumer. The coffee-plantation worker, too, is benefiting financially. To keep prices high, Brazil bought up large quantities of Central American and African coffees. Suddenly, however, Brazil’s exporters had to face the absence of international buyers. As an immediate reaction, prices abroad began to fall, and in July 1977, a sudden maneuver at the New York and London Exchanges slashed the price further, so that a 50-percent drop has been registered since the record prices three months earlier. Exporters are jittery. Buyers ask, Will Brazil reduce the price? What will be the future of coffee? Time will tell.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s Conselho Monetário Nacional approved a plan to revive and upgrade the nation’s coffee plantations by adding 150 million trees during 1977/78, bringing the total to 3,000,000,000 trees and an output of 28 million bags by 1980. So there is no fear of coffee going off the scene. Although this popular beverage now is more costly, yesterday’s enjoyment of coffee remains with us today.

Introduction to Parker Tube Fittings

Parker Hannifin Corporation is the World’s Leading Tube Fitting Authority. Since 1924, Parker has served the marketplace with dependable fluid power technology. Tube Fittings were among the first products manufactured by the company, and Parker has deep roots and expertise in the design of Tube Fittings. The company manufactures Tube Fittings to a very high standard to conform to all major specification requirements. Continue reading

Gourmet Cooking for Pleasure

Gourmet cooking is a style of food preparation that deals with the finest and freshest possible ingredients. This means that to enjoy authentic gourmet food you must prepare your food immediately after purchasing the fresh ingredients that will comprise your meals. Not only do you want to purchase the freshest ingredients when cooking gourmet meals but you also want to insure that you are purchasing ingredients of superior quality.

 

Those who excel at gourmet cooking and food preparation have many options available to them. From catering to opening up their own restaurant these talented individuals who are entrepreneurial in spirit often do quite well in the world of business if their talent is sufficient.

 

When it comes to cooking gourmet food the two rules mentioned above are the only hard and fast rules. Everything else is purely a matter of adventure and taste. Now this doesn’t mean that any and everyone can become a gourmet cook simply by going out and purchasing the finest and freshest of ingredients and throwing them into a pot. There is some degree of art involved when it comes to gourmet cooking and a large degree of skill that is necessary in order to achieve these culinary masterpieces.

 

You should also understand and be prepared to discover that fresh ingredients are not always available so there are times when compromises must be made when cooking gourmet meals. For this reason you capitalize on what is in season and plan your meals accordingly whenever possible. One important quality when it comes to cooking gourmet food is the layering of flavors. You should be able to taste the meat or seafood as well as the vegetables, herbs, and spices that comprise your skillfully prepared meal.

 

You should not however rely on taste or aroma alone when cooking gourmet foods. As I mentioned above gourmet cooking is a large degree skill but there is some degree of art involved. For this reason, presentation is a key component of the gourmet dining experience. Through a few freshly chopped herbs on the plate before placing the food or top the food with appealing and aromatic herbs that will compliment the flavor of the meal you have prepared. Present the fruits and vegetable sides in a visually appealing fashion rather than simply tossing them onto a plate.

 

With proper presentation even foods that were simple to prepare can take on the flavor of a gourmet feast. This is something you should keep in mind whether your cooking plans for the evening involve the gourmet or the every day. The thing about gourmet cooking is that it is to some degree more art than science. This means that there is always room to improve your skills and stretch your limits as a cook. There will always be the next great challenge or the ‘what if’ when it comes to flavor combinations.

 

In fact, some of the greatest foods began with someone asking, “What would happen if I added this?” Always ask what if and always seek to improve your skills. The good news if this is an avenue you wish to pursue is that there are often gourmet cooking classes offered at gourmet food shops in your area. Some colleges or local community programs will also offer these sorts of classes for a few if you are interested. This means that there are almost always opportunities to broaden your experiences with gourmet cooking and expand your horizons.

 

Whether this is your first time considering gourmet cooking or you are an old pro, keep in mind that skills can be learned over time with the proper motivation and an open and honest desire to learn. If you want to learn more about gourmet cooking there is really nothing to stop you from doing so other than yourself. The Internet, your local library, and many bookstores across the country have countless volumes of information that can help you get started on your journey to gourmet cooking bliss.

Vegetarian compared to raw

Is there a difference between vegetarian and raw food diets? A raw foodist is a vegetarian, but one who generally is not going to cook his vegetables or fruits. A vegetarian is someone who simply doesn’t eat meat, fish or poultry, but only consumes vegetables, pasta, and rice. A vegetarian might eat meatless spaghetti sauce or order onion rings in a restaurant. (Not the healthiest choice, but sometimes it’s hard to find something to eat in a restaurant if you’re vegetarian – even harder if you’re a raw foodist.)
There are different categories of vegetarians, like vegans, or fruitarians, and raw foodist is a category of vegetarianism. We haven’t seen anything about sushi being considered a raw food, but it is. Raw food, though, generally means eating raw, uncooked fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, seaweeds, etc.

But to be a raw food purist means raw broccoli, not steamed. To a vegetarian, someone committed to not eat meat or fish or animal products, steamed vegetables are just as good, although everyone would agree that steaming can take out nutrients from foods, rendering them less nutritious. A vegetarian might consume dairy or egg products; however a vegan will not consume any animal products at all. And a raw foodist is a vegan who consumes only uncooked, unprocessed raw foods.
Proponents of the raw diet believe that enzymes are the life force of a food and that every food contains its own perfect mix. These enzymes help us digest foods completely, without relying on our body to produce its own cocktail of digestive enzymes.
It is also thought that the cooking process destroys vitamins and minerals and that cooked foods not only take longer to digest, but they also allow partially digested fats, proteins and carbohydrates to clog up our gut and arteries.

Followers of a raw diet cite numerous health benefits, including:
• increased energy levels
• improved appearance of skin
• improved digestion
• weight loss
• reduced risk of heart disease

How to Find the Best Antique Coffee Grinder

Finding an antique coffee grinder is the best thing you can do to create a special coffee or espresso. The taste and flavor of coffee initially dissipates after the coffee beans were grinded. So it is much enticing tasting a coffee or an espresso if you were the one who grinded the coffee beans.

A coffee grinder plays a big role because the machine is essential on how the coffee beans would look like after they were ground. Espresso grinders tend to be very sensitive about the type of grind it can work best on. On the other hand, a drift coffee machine is a little more forgiving because of the quality of grinds they give.

There are many options to choose from when buying coffee grinders. You may just want to keep your antique coffee grinder and place it on your collectible items and keep save it for special coffee grinding sessions. Here are some other antique selections of grinders that are recommended for your coffee making sessions.

1. The Antique Burr Grinder can crush beans to a more uniform size. You can find Burr grinders that are conical and flat in shape. The grind setting on this type of grinder can create the similar and almost perfect grind on the beans. With their convincing accuracy, these grinders are recommended for use with any type of coffee brewing sessions.

Nonetheless, you should pay attention on the grinder setting when grinding large amount of coffee beans. Some grinders may not perform well as an antique burr grinder especially when making Turkish coffee or French press coffee.

2. The Antique Blade Grinders use only a single blade that can rotate at very high speed to grind beans. The perfection of the chops is mainly controlled for how long the blade will spin at fast mode. It is better to let longer run for the blades to create a perfect grind. The Blade grinders are appropriately matched in making drift coffee. It can actually compensate the type of grinds of drift coffee filters of the Antique Blade Grinders.

3. There are also those Bodum products for the coffee maker enthusiasts. They have impressive coffee grinder designs with timeless classics like the antique Bodum Chambord coffee grinder that keeps old and new coffee customers to come back and drink the finest grind coffee around. As their slogan says “nothing makes your day better than a perfect grind cup of coffee.” They know this even better, which is why they created the best coffee grinders in the business. Two of their popular best sellers are the Bodum Antigua Grinder and the Bodum C-Mill Grinder.

Even if you are new to the coffee world or you are a seasoned coffee lover, it is still recommended that you know how to find the best purchases of coffee grinders. There are many types of grinders you can choose from that can satisfy to your coffee making needs. Always remember to take care of the grinder that you bought and always keep it clean so that it can last for more and tasteful coffee making sessions.

Your Culinary Herb Garden

The romance of caring for a culinary herb garden is appealing to all kinds of people. City dwellers often plant edible herbs in window boxes and flower pots while people surrounded by land may plant and maintain several dozen different culinary and fragrance herbs. Cooking with herbs has always been popular. Herbs enhance the flavor of food and can add new life to old favorites.

All herbs are wonderfully easy to grow, which has long made them a favorite of gardeners everywhere; culinary herb gardens have the added benefit of making a valuable contribution to the kitchen. Instead of paying high prices at the grocery store or farmer’s market, people who grow culinary herbs only have to snip a few leaves from a plant to get the fresh flavors they need for cooking.

Choosing Culinary Herbs

To get the most out of your culinary herb garden, it is important that you choose your plants wisely. While the idea of growing spearmint may sound appealing at first, if you don’t care for the taste of mint then you probably won’t get very much out of growing it. To choose what culinary herbs to grow, think about the kinds of foods you like to prepare. If you like Italian cooking, then you will frequently use oregano, basil, and thyme. Mediterranean cooking makes frequent use of parsley and mint, and meat-based dishes can benefit richly from the addition of rosemary.

Growing Your Herbs

Just about every garden center and nursery has a selection of live herbs available for purchase in the late spring. Spring is also the time to get a good price on seeds; it’s possible to get many seed packets for the price of a single live plant, so people wishing to grow several herbs can save money by purchasing seeds. Herbs are hardy plants that are easy to grow from seed. Simply sow the seeds according the guidelines provided on the package and wait a few weeks.

After purchase, live herbs should be promptly repotted into larger containers. A roomy flower pot gives your herbs space to spread out and grow, so choose a container that will promote a thriving plant. To get the most out of your culinary herbs, consider buying a book of herb growing or borrow one from the library. Learn about the different needs of each herb; you’ll have a much better chance at gardening success if you provide the right kind of soil, light conditions, and amount of water.

Enjoying Your Herbs

Before you know it, your culinary herbs will be ready to use. To harvest, clip leaves or stems from the plant while taking care not to disturb the roots or take too much of the growing plant. This bit of pruning gives you the herbs you need and can stimulate further plant growth.

When using your herbs in recipes, read the instructions carefully. Many recipes were written with the assumption that the cook is using dried herbs; if you use the same amount of fresh herb, you may find that you’ve used too much. It only takes a small amount of fresh herb to deliver a large amount of flavor.

Once you start cooking with herbs, you’re sure to discover many more ways to use them. Your cooking will be more flavorful and enjoyable than ever with the addition of fresh culinary herbs.

The Best Coffees in the World

When considering the best coffees in the world, I went to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) for research. They are the organization that sets the quality standards for specialty coffee, which the public calls “gourmet” coffee. All specialty coffees use arabica beans. The other category of is the robusta bean, which is of inferior taste quality to arabica. Within these categories, there are several varieties of bean. Arabica beans are grown at a higher altitude than robusta.

Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world and is graded in a similar manner as wine. This event is called a “cupping” and has a set of strict standards. Winning a cupping is very prestigious and has a direct effect on the prices a coffee grower can get for his crop.

History of these “cupping” winners has shown that three areas of the world produce the most winners. Interestingly, these regions have a very similar latitude when looking at the world map. The three regions are Ethiopia, Sumatra and Panama.

Ethiopian/Kenyan Coffee (Africa)

Ethiopian coffee is aromatic, highly flavorful, and also known to be some of the best coffees in the world. It is also the origin of all coffee. The Ethiopian people have a legend that says that a goat herder discovered Ethiopian coffee around 850 AD. This legend claims that the goat herder noticed that his sheep were very excited and nearly dancing after eating red berries from a tree. The legend of the founder goes on to say that the herder sampled the red berries for himself and took some of the berries home to his wife who insisted that he take them to the monks. The monks supposedly threw the berries into a fire and noticed the delicious smell that the berries produced. The monks are said to have removed the berries from the fire and boiled the berries in water to create the beverage that we now know as Ethiopian coffee.

Whether this legend is true, or in fact just a legend is forever a mystery. Regardless, Ethiopian coffee has been used for religious ceremonies. These ceremonies are still held today and if a guest is invited to participate in the ceremony, it is well known to be a very beautiful experience.

Locally, Ethiopian coffee is served with either sugar, or in some parts of Ethiopia, salt. Milk or any type of creamer is never used in traditionally brewing. The process of making the coffee varies by region. In some regions it is dry processed and in some other regions it is washed. The Ethiopian coffee found in stores today is dry processed.

The process is often grueling and coupled with with importing adds to the reason of why Ethiopian coffee can be expensive.

When consumers purchase Ethiopian coffee to be brewed at home, it is wise to consider fair trade Ethiopian coffee. The obvious reason to consider fair trade is so that the producers of this wonderful product can reap the benefits of their hard work. Ethiopian coffee has a rich, bold, and exciting history and a taste that has been favored by many people for a long time.

Sumatran Coffee (Indonesia)

Sumatran coffee comes from the island in Indonesia called Sumatra. The taste of Sumatran coffee is spicy, herbal, and very distinct. It is considered to be one of the best coffees in the world and was first introduced by the Dutch around 1699 when the Dutch wanted to keep up with the demand of coffee to Europe. The Dutch traders knew the difference between Sumatran coffee beans and other coffee beans by the appearance, which are irregularly shaped and bright green.

Sumatran coffee is one of the best coffees in the world and has a low acidity which makes it highly favored among other types of coffee. The beans are usually grown in full sunlight and with no chemicals. A highly popular type of Sumatran coffee, yet thoroughly disgusting in many peoples opinion, is the kopi luwak Sumatran coffee. The kopi luwak coffee is coffee beans that have been eaten by the small animal known as a luwak. After the luwak digests and excretes the coffee beans, local villagers collect the excreted beans and roast them. These excreted and roasted beans are said to cost about $300 a pound. Of course, not all of Sumatran coffee comes from the excrement of the luwak. There are many other varieties of Sumatran coffee as well.

Most of the Sumatran coffee beans are processed using the wet and dry processing method. This processing method is another reason why Sumatran coffee is so popular. Most other types of coffee beans are processed by using either a wet method or a dry method, hardly ever both.

When purchasing Sumatran coffee for use at home, a person should try to purchase fair trade Sumatran coffee. Fair trade beans can be found at various online retailers and also at gourmet coffee retailers. This insures that the growers benefit from all of the hard work that they put into growing this delicious coffee.

Expel Odor Onion in Hand

Garlic is one of the spices used to add flavor in savory dishes. However, savory flavor of garlic can leave the dreadful smell in the mouth if it is too much to eat it. In addition to the mouth, the smell of garlic will also stick in hand if you cut it with bare hands.

If not cleaned properly, the smell of garlic will stick long in the hand or your breath. To remove the smell of garlic, the follow way:

1. Garlic breath odor
Garlic odor on your breath can smell relieved by drinking milk, eating raw parsley or celery. Fatty drinks and foods that contain lots of water will help remove the smell of volatile compounds (volatile compounds) contained in garlic.

2. Hands smell onions
To remove the smell of garlic from your hands, rub hands garlicky smell with lemon slices, salt, or baking soda. In addition, you can also remove the smell of garlic using a variety of objects made of stainless steel, such as your kitchen faucet. Molecules are considered potent block of steel substance that can produce odors at hand. After being rubbed with a metal object, rinse your hands with water until clean.

Improve Your Health and Fitness

Over aeons of time, our bodies have adapted to cope with survival in a harsh environment. Although we achieved civilization thousands of years ago, our bodies have not evolved to adapt to this change. If we imagine ourselves back in the distant past we would have eaten less sugar, salt and fat in a year or more than we now eat in a week or less. We would have eaten a diet of meat and fish, mostly vegetable matter, fruit, berries, nuts, seeds and roots. We would only have drunk water, and may have sampled the splendour of honey. Foods would be rich in fibre, some protein, essential fats, vitamins and minerals, but low in sugar, salt and saturated fats. We would have been in almost constant motion; playing, working, foraging, preparing food, but rarely staying still. (I think that it is important to remind ourselves that our body is designed to be active, but that we often think of exercise as formal, vigorous, structured pursuits. It can be easy to persuade ourselves that going swimming or playing football twice a week is enough [and so we have an excuse for driving to work and to the local shops]. And although it is great to do these things, we can stay fit and healthy without a gym membership, just by doing everyday movements; walking, cleaning the house, and gardening, and yes I shall say that well-worn phrase- leaving the car at home.)

Don’t think that our person from the past would have been feasting on jumbo mammoth steaks Flintstone-style all day long either. Meat may have been in scant supply for much of the time (have you ever tried to catch a rabbit?) and women and children spent a large amount of time foraging for nuts, roots, berries and vegetable matter. Everyone would have been involved in acquiring food, and all methods of obtaining food would have used large amounts of energy; you have to cover wide areas to provide enough food for a family. Even when farming became a way of life huge amounts of energy would have to be invested in producing the fruits, vegetables and animal products. Animals too would have been reared on a diet of more complex foods rather than modern high-energy processed feeds. It is thought that their meat would have been much less rich in saturated fats and so healthier for the people consuming it.

Food production would have been part of every day life, unlike today where food arrives pre-packed, smothered in cellophane, produced days, weeks or months ago in a factory hundreds of miles away, glazed with wax, identical in size and colour to its neighbour, lacking any aroma, and likely to be lacking in nutrition. Our imaginary person would have experienced real, largely unprocessed food, and a varied seasonal diet (no strawberries at Christmas for Ms Caveperson). It is likely that they would have a relationship with what they had produced. If you ever grow your own fruit and veg you will understand how exciting it is to watch things grow, then how good it feels to harvest and prepare them. People would have wasted nothing- all parts of every fruit, vegetable or animal would be used for something, almost nothing was unusable; today in the UK one third of our food is thrown away and wasted, out of every 2 bagged salads purchased today, one will go in the bin (sounds familiar?).

Another aspect of our imaginary person’s relationship to food is the social aspect. People would have produced and processed the food together, celebrated harvests and abundant times, and eaten together as a family or group. Children would help the adults, and learnt how to grow and prepare food ensuring that they would be able to look after themselves as adults. Meal times may have been the only time when the extended family would be gathered together to swap the day’s news, gossip and stories. This way people eat more slowly, and eat less allowing their body to feel full and satisfied. Food would have produced social bonding and been a central and essential part of social life.

Life would have been hard, and still is for many people today who have to provide their own food, and so I don’t want to over-romanticise this imaginary person. However, I think that this person from the past is a useful tool for understanding what our eating and activity profile should be more like if we wish to be healthier and happier. There would have been no slouching on a sofa in front of the TV, no Chicken Dippas, micro-chips, and definitely (and thankfully) no Pringles. Our imaginary person may not even recognise these things as food.

Underneath it all we are still cave people, our bodies and brains have evolved to take nutrition from simple whole foods, we thrive on human contact and still feel the need to eat together and share food, and our bodies are healthier if we exercise consistently. We need a diet rich in whole foods, in raw foods, and home cooked foods. We should pick foods which are low in sugar, salt and saturated fat. If you are doubtful about the validity of a food, ask yourself how far-removed it is from its natural state, could you make it yourself, would it have existed a hundred years ago or more? If the answer is no then the chances are that it is not very healthy. We need to explore the excitement of foraging for food, growing it and preparing it, we need to rediscover the simple pleasures of podding peas, chopping fresh herbs, picking blackberries, and making pickles and jams.

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