288 responses

  1. Juliana
    October 18, 2013

    True. They ate healthy food and had little to worry about, that is stress was not a cause of illness at that time and there was very little air pollution.
    Today we all breath all this polluted air and toxic car waste .
    Stress is also the most common cause of disease nowadays.
    So ,now , adopting all kind of vegetarian diets is nothing else but trying to compensate for all this bad environment we all live in.

    • brandi
      October 19, 2013

      Um no, if you were fortunate and didnt live in or around a city, you didnt have air pollution. It was 10 times (or more) as bad as it is now.

      • Michelle
        November 1, 2013

        Um no, you’re thinking about after the Industrial Revolution. History of man goes back a FEW years before that!

      • Jason
        November 19, 2013

        Yes and no on the Industrial Revolution comment. Check out this article about the environmental factors that the car, and machination in general was intended to be a solution for. Interesting read here, check it out –

        http://www.uctc.net/access/30/Access%2030%20-%2002%20-%20Horse%20Power.pdf

      • Ginger
        November 30, 2013

        For those Harping like a$$hats on Anita shame on you! You do NOT have ANY of the facts yet you immediately jump to horrible assumptions. You call her ‘not much of a daughter” and you whine about the ‘government pays’ yet you have no clue.

        Did it even remotely occur to you that her mother who may be frail has NO desire to live with her daughter or anyone else for that matter and wishes to remain on her own in her own home where she feels she can still make choices for herself… to the one who says she isn’t much of a daughter maybe I should assume that you prefer taking over and gaining complete control of those you cared for? Leaving them no self respect? No feeling of independence? I choose Not to accuse you of that…

        And for the governement paying and you grasping at your purse strings because you automatically assume it’s coming from YOU if it’s government money- how do YOU know that her mother didn’t work her butt off for years and earned that government money? How do you KNOW that she wasn’t in the military and has a VA income? I don’t and niether do you unless you know her personally.

        Instead of keeping to the article you people have jumped on the “Let’s lynch Anita” bandwagon …for shame…. I do not know Anita nor her Mother nor her situation and until I do? I will not make accusations or conclusions against her. And for those of you whom are true Trolls- Oh do hate on this because I know your life is not complete until you enforce your misery on others… and to those that know that this is about you and you get your knickers in a knot? Get over yourselves becasue if my diatribe hits too close to home then you need to sit down, shut up, and take stock in your own life before you trash someone else.

      • Kevin
        December 19, 2013

        Contrary to common myth, pollution has been with cities for their whole existence. The ancient Greeks complained bitterly about soot soiling their togas…. a single example.

    • Anita
      October 20, 2013

      I do wonder about the statement many people make that we have more stress in our lives today than our ancestors did. I think it may have been *different* stress, but there was still plenty of it back then. (e.g. Possibility of crop failure, necessity of preserving enough food, animals getting sick, losing more children to illnesses, overt and extreme discrimination/ class divides, no social safety net, no good medical or dental care, too many pregnancies, every single thing was more labour intensive, no employment standards protections, hazardous working conditions with little safety gear, necessity to provide elder care, etc.) Now I’m going to go have a warm shower with store-bought soap and safe, running water in one of my 3 bathrooms and then eat a good breakfast with imported fruit, put on warm clothes I did not sew myself and then get in the car to go help out my elderly mother — who does not live with me — because even though she is sickly and frail, government pays for caregivers to assist her to stay in her own apartment. I have a lot of stress – especially via work – but I don’t discount the stresses others endured and am grateful not to be pregnant with my 10th child right now. :-)

      • Charm & Grace
        October 20, 2013

        Funny, I was thinking the same thing… sewing 100 buttons on, milking cows, cleaning a house all day, preparing dinner without our modern conveniences, — all while VERY pregnant b– and then giving birth… yes, I would consider all those things to be stressful. I certainly can’t say my life is any more stressful than that. I really do think so many of our “ills” today are related to what we ingest on a daily basis. But, who really knows for sure whether it is environmental or physical or just life? As for me, I am trying to do the best I can for myself and my family to make wise choices, but you can never do that 100% of the time. I am glad to trust in God for my life here and also for my death whenever and however it will come.

      • Debi
        October 22, 2013

        The things mentioned were every day life and expected. They rolled with the punches and lived one day at a time. Their working conditions were what they were … there was no stress from lack of safety gear because there wasn’t any safety gear … can’t stress about something you don’t know about. We can’t base their lives on our experience. Their life was the only thing they knew and many were content … which in and of itself is less stressful. The shear level of physical activity and time required to do daily chores helps reduce stress as it helps us focus on the task at hand … on the moment.

      • Rebecca
        October 27, 2013

        If you read about many of these time periods, it seems like they just worked themselves to death…the stress was enormous. Many societies were continually and barbarically repressed…think of the public hangings and torture for having dissenting religious beliefs or not following dogma to the letter. They did horrible things to people and the stress caused by fear must have been overwhelming. Imagine a good traditional diet with a loving and supportive environment, we’d be healthy and happy past 100!

      • Denis
        October 29, 2013

        I agree that their stress were different. One thing is for sure they did not have knowledge of psychopathic corporations like Monsanto and other corporations who are radically changing the landscape and/or health of the planet just for GREED with no regards to the future generations .

        I am not going to pile on this subject, this is not the platform but I don’t think our ancestors needed to worry if the planet is going to be around for many more centuries or our we going to exticnt ourselves.

      • Elenin Floyd
        November 16, 2013

        We have stress with no fisical activitie. They had stress working out all day…that is the difference no?

      • Kristi
        November 18, 2013

        “too many pregnancies” Who decides this?
        There were 12 children in my Grandmother’s family. My Great-Grandmother was happy to have them. In the 1980’s I had several friends with 11 or more children in their family – one had 17 – and those Mom’s were perfectly happy and glad to have them. Children are a blessing.

      • John
        November 30, 2013

        Aw shoot! I was a steel worker for 23 years, abused alcohol for close to 30 years, ignored high blood pressure for all my life, worked hard like a maniac, enjoyed the fruits of my labor like a king(no x-mas tree was too tall, no whiskey was too strong and I dipped buttered toast in the bacon grease and ate it. I’ve also had 2 heart attacks – mild – and 2 strokes. My gait is impaired thus I limp and drool at times but otherwise, I’m fine!! I gotta take pills for the hypertension which has settled down and I can’t drink any more cuz my kidneys are shot but I’m still kicking! No diabetes Thank God!

      • Lee Wacker
        November 30, 2013

        Your imported fruit alone could kill you! NONE of that stuff is truly good, rarely do the foreigners pay any attention to the pesticides they use, and definitely not to the amount they use! Then, take a hard look at the venomous snakes, spiders and other baddies that have been sneaking (which might be questionable) into the shipments of fruit coming into the country!
        How nice of you not to have your mother live with you–not much of a daughter are you? I took care of my mom, my daughter, her three children, my dad, the house, the yard, and went to school–I have also taken care of two sick husbands in the past, and six children on my own!
        Now, tell me about your silly “stress!”

      • panamacarol
        November 30, 2013

        Well said! “Back then”, they did have to work their tails off doing things we all take for granted these days. Times have changed…but as you say, the stress is different. But they had plenty of stress just trying to stay alive.

      • Kerry
        November 30, 2013

        Anita October 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm you wrote this:
        then get in the car to go help out my elderly mother — who does not live with me — because even though she is sickly and frail, government pays for caregivers to assist her to stay in her own apartment.

        Whose money does the government use to pay for you to be a care-giver to your own mother or am I mistaken and you aren’t even a caregiver to your own mother?
        Has it occurred to you that possibly your mother could make out quite well at your home with the 3 bathrooms with running water? I didn’t say safe running water since chances are good it has chemicals in it which lower your intelligence level enough to th ink it is okay for the government to support not only your mother but also her care-giver(s)?

      • Larry Amis
        November 30, 2013

        I just love it when someone says that the government is paying for something. Just please remember where the government gets the money that is used to pay for anything even if it is just borrowed money and interest is being paid on it. So when there is no more “government” money who will pay for the care givers and if no one will where will your sickly mom live then and will that cause you any stress. And after reading this does it cause you any stress?

    • Mike
      October 20, 2013

      Modern medical science, as the article states has reduced dramatically the incidence of death in infancy, childbirth, and from disease. This gives more people to develop cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease. I don’t know the science but it may have little to do with diet.

      • Mike P
        October 22, 2013

        Mike if you look at stats chronic diseases have sky rocketed and starting at a much younger age late onset diabetes for example, we see a 500% increase in children. Alzheimer’s wasn’t heard of per 1950. Cancer and heart disease are common in younger generations. I have a health food shop and we see heaps of kids with supposed adult diseases, like heart disease and arthritis. Diet is the major change in the last 100 years, increase in sugar consumption, grain products and toxic seed (polyunsaturated vegetable oils) oils, all causing inflammation problems. All chronic diseases are inflammation problems.

      • jacqueline l
        October 28, 2013

        the part about the infant death rate is rediculously untrue…we have have a higher infant death rate since doctors stole the business from midwives. midwives in most european countries deliver about 70% of the babies while here in america its only 8%. we lose 5.9% of american babies…germany 3.4 france 3.3…the docs have improved their own methods since taking over the midwife business…but midwives still do it better….doctors use to have barbaric methods and killed many women all because they didnt know to wash their hands.many women use to be terrified to go to a doctor over a midwife because back in the beginning of the takover it was considered a death sentence.

      • Cyndy
        November 30, 2013

        Jacqueline, the “percentages” you cite are per 1000, which means the US infant mortality rate is 0.59%. You should have been tipped off when Afghanistan, at the top of the list, had 119 (%, according to you). Or maybe you just need a middle school math refresher.

    • Lisa
      October 20, 2013

      No Stress are you kidding me? One day of not being able to flush my toilet or get a nice cold drink of water…or take a shower throws me into a frenzy ha ha. My question is how the heck did they get so much done? My great grandmother I’ve heard was a tyrant, worked everyone to the bone. Tell me her kin wasn’t stressed. As a farmer myself I can tell you weather alone can devastate a person and cause great and deep suffering. The thing is, and I think this posts speaks to this is we are at the latest diet craze or “scientific” findings mercy. We want to be well and healthy so we pay attention, we’re vegetarian, vegan, paleo, south beach, makers, raw… on and on. All to be well and perhaps also make the planet well in the process. But I happen to see these “diet styles” nothing more than western privilege. I think this is something that should be discussed more. We always think about privilege just in terms of race or status but diet is also deeply rooted in privilege. I personally choose to eat like my ancestors frankly because I farm (I have access to these foods) and I’m poor, (something I hate to admit but is true) Its true there are many factors at play, the important thing is we each live our own truth. Not condemn or shame, that’s what politicians and preachers are for ;) But support each other in efforts to better ourselves and the planet.

      • Maria
        October 21, 2013

        AMEN! “Western privilege,” indeed! I think you hit the nail square on the head!

      • Jessica
        October 21, 2013

        No TV, Internet, cell phones, social media to distract them!

      • jeanette
        October 22, 2013

        Back then people physically worked off the food they ate. And there was no sitting around for hours watching Tv & playing video games. People actually got up and Moved! We hear all the time how physical excercise helps eliminate stress. Our ancesters did what they had to do & didn’t psyco-analyxe it!

      • Barb
        November 1, 2013

        I agree with you, we eat very close to an ancestoral diet because we too grow much of our own food and to be honest are pretty poor too! But that being said, I think a lot of the modern day stress is brought on by ourselves. Keeping up with the Joneses, having everything new, being so far in debt and thinking that it’s all gonna be ok if you just get that brand new iPhone. Lots less stress if you don’t / can’t buy into all the materialistic bull*%$#! Do I want nice things? Sure I do but am I pretty practical about it? You betcha! I will admit I need to move more, but our diet is as healthy as I can get it. You know what’s sad? I have 3 boys, youngest is 18 and he gave me a hug the other night and thanked me for not being like his friends’ moms. I asked why and he said, mom you cook with real food, not boxes, mixes or takeouts all the time. I guess maybe that’s not so sad because I’m getting through to them after all =) Lead by example!!!

      • Lee Wacker
        November 30, 2013

        I agree with you about the food! I spend far too much just trying to get enough to last through the month, but, I do get it done!
        I would love to be back on my farm, even though is was worthless for growing anything, but, I did grow the best rocks in the county!
        I miss milking, feeding the chickens, gathering eggs, and just knowing that I was doing something for myself!

      • Cat
        December 5, 2013

        A short comment on stress in “the good ole’ days”. No one mentions here how happy people were back then. Many of them knew this as their life from day to day. Many of them loved to work hard. I know my mom, who is in her middle 80’s loves to work hard. It is one of the things that keeps her going and makes her very happy. Too bad the generation of today don’t love to be moms, homemakers, gardeners, etc. They all want what their parents years took years to have, and they want it now. Life is truly how you perceive it and how you embrace every day to the fullest.

    • Ariel
      October 21, 2013

      Juliana (and everyone who disagrees about the fact that there is more stress these days),

      I would agree that there was less stress. For all the arguments in this thread about how many conveniences we have today, we fail to realize that our society functions with a speed, surplus, and intensity unheard of not only to the people of the past but also to the people in many other countries. The dear old grandmother who sewed all those button holes was not taking her other children to soccer, racing around the room, answering phone calls and emails and Facebook. She most likely walked more slowly than our generation does and found stress-relief in milking that cow (I’ve done my fair share of cow milking and goat milking and it’s been true time and again.) After living and working in India for six months, I can testify to the fact that strenuous environments, when more down to earth and simple, do not have to be stressful environments. Our so-called conveniences are used by most of us merely to enable us to pick up the pace – leading to a deadly, or at the very least debilitating, level of stress. This is then coupled with the removal of stress-relieving activities and environments (activities like knitting have stress relieving qualities, as does caring for young children or making bread; environments of long friendships and tight communities also serve to relieve stress and keep people grounded) only furthering the impact of stress on our lives.

      • Debi
        October 22, 2013

        Well stated.

    • Glen
      October 22, 2013

      The other thing is that all our meals were prepared from scratch and not tasteless, over processed food that is heated up in 15 – 20 min or less. That crap has absolutely NO dietary value. So cook your food and buy fresh produce and meat from farmers that raise animals that are not pumped up with growth agents. EAT HEALTHY and LIVE LONG.

    • Denis
      October 29, 2013

      I agree that their stress were different. One thing is for sure they did not have knowledge of psychopathic corporations like Monsanto and other corporations who are radically changing the landscape and/or health of the planet just for GREED with no regards to the future generations .

      I am not going to pile on this subject, this is not the platform but I don’t think our ancestors needed to worry if the planet is going to be around for many more centuries or our we going to exticnt ourselves.

    • Stuart (Austin, TX)
      November 19, 2013

      I recommend anyone tending to believe that the good old days were anything other than terrible read this book: “The Good Old Days, They Were Terrible” by Otto Bettmann.

      http://www.amazon.com/The-Good-Old-Days-Terrible/dp/0394709411

      • MerridyJ
        April 23, 2014

        Sometimes terrible, but there was a lot of fun along with “striving to make things work” as my 89-year-old mother puts it in her book: Black Rocks and Cold Winds — Surviving the Good Old Days. http://www.mirabooksmart.com/Black-Rocks-and-Cold-Wind–Surviving-the-Good-Old-Days_p_142.html.
        We certainly do take a lot of things for granted. She describes what it was like washing clothes for a family of 11. Definitely too much work, even with the older kids helping. Now imagine trying to get your water vats boiling in the winter and with freezing hands, hanging the clothes on the fence where they freeze solid.
        One comment from a reader “this book should be mandatory reading for every school child in this community, so they can appreciate what it took to make this nice town, and so they can be grateful for what they have.”
        She’s been a vegetarian for about 50 years now. Healthy, she can easily out-hike me. She avoids sugar, chemicals, and other additives. Until she moved in with us, she was still driving herself to line-dancing class (35 miles to town, one way). She got her license renewed here in Michigan with no restrictions. Way to Go Old Timers. Eat real food. Live authentically.

    • Bossnian
      November 20, 2013

      What if I told you, people used work all day for everything. From chopping wood, to sheltering it to dry, to removing the dried wood near the house under a roof, to starting the fire, to maintainig the fire. That was just to be warm, while we just twist our wrist and boom there is heat. You are hungry? Go work in you garten, go feed the animals, slaughter them, chop it apart, prepare the meat, make dinner. Water? If you were lucky you had a water well, if not, go carry liter of water home. Going somewhere? Walk..

      People burned around 4000 calories a day back then, while people today burn maybe 1500 to 2000 some even less, so they could eat the caloric food.

      • Kevin
        December 19, 2013

        Not saying yea or nay, but remember that being written down doesn’t make it true. Even with pictures.

    • Bethany R
      November 21, 2013

      Both of my grandmothers (one who was physically active; one who was forced into a more sedentary lifestyle by back injuries) lived beyond age 85. Fat back, buttermilk, cornbread, sweet tea, fried chicken, gravy, bacon, sausage, biscuits, grits, mashed potatoes, corn, whole milk, cheese, butter and ALWAYS a cake baked and waiting to be enjoyed were staples in both their houses. (They were WONDERFUL cooks!!)

      Considering they both grew up during the Depression, and one was a single mother of three who had no support from their father, putting two of her kids through advanced schooling despite living in Southern Appalachia, I think she did well, She worked in a nylon fiber factory (highly toxic environment) until she retired. I believe stress was a large part of her life. I know it was. She was constantly worrying about the next thing…I remember that. The other grandmother had a husband who worked in a paper mill and then as a truck farmer–bringing in all sorts of chemical toxins daily (he lived till age 83). Both, however, had faith which was strong–that helps one not to feel hopeless and lost.

      They didn’t belong to gyms…the more active one took up walking when she had a heart scare in her late 70s…and the one who lived longest led the most physically inactive life for her last 30+ years. They just lived their lives and loved on their families. Maybe that is the key–being content and loving.

    • Jeff
      November 29, 2013

      I live in southern Oregon. In my county we probably have 1,000 evergreen trees for each and every person. You can see evidence of air pollution at times, but not really. It’s not a factor here. We are blessed in that area. I just wish the people who only think they know about the environment would let us harvest our God-given bounty. Nobody would take better care of it. It that could happen, many more of us could afford to eat better, healthier and that often enough.

    • Mary
      November 30, 2013

      We are also forgetting now if we ate conventional bacon,(full of nitrates,) and lard and all,that was NOT organic in nature,we’d have the same problems. I say if God made the food,then it’s good for us. food created in the lab is NOT food,just sayin

      • Kevin
        December 19, 2013

        Major point!
        No GMOs, antibiotics or growth hormones, either. No factory food….

      • jace
        December 19, 2013

        except god isnt real so your argument is invalid. Were talking about science here. real facts, not a bedtime story.

    • Jerry Proctor
      November 30, 2013

      My family tree, that I’ve compiled, consists of 16,883 individuals and their average life span was 60 years 11 months.

    • Jane
      November 30, 2013

      I would like to add validity from a the research of Dr weston A Price who was a dentist and noticed a link between tooth decay and poor health …he was born 1870 and traveled the world studying tribal diet vs modern diet..His findings show that it didn’t matter how high fat the tribal diet was as it differed depending on where they lived and what they had…what effected poor health and tooth decay was the new modern processed diet. the tribal ppl that left the traditional ways for modern lifestyle features even changed from a wider rounder face without any teeth crowding to a more narrow face with teeth crowding. even though they didn’t brush properly they still had white cavity free teeth. back then everyone thought his findings were mad because of course modern civilized educated man can’t be wrong over the ways of tribal living. http://www.westonaprice.org/nutrition-greats/weston-price

    • Joe
      November 30, 2013

      The air near a wood fire is way more polluted than in a city today.

      • richard
        December 1, 2013

        Have you seen the air quality figures for Beijing? Your statement is a dubious assertion not backed by any sources, in short, just an opinion.

    • Deborah
      November 30, 2013

      Also, there were not all the harmful additives to food that there are now. Antibiotics, GMO’s, chemicals, food colorings, etc. etc…the list goes on and on. Most if not all have been proven in some way to be a detriment to human health.

      • richard
        December 1, 2013

        Ever read Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”?

    • Patricia Gausnell
      November 30, 2013

      Hmmm. Wasn’t it pretty stressful to stay up all night sewing on buttons so the kids would have clothes to wear to school? I think they did have stress the same as we do, just maybe not so much environmental. I do agree about the bad environment. Also, about all the refined and processed foods.

      • Kevin
        December 19, 2013

        No, because in the 1900’s, light was basically sun or candles,e tc… which are not so great for button sewing… people slept or screwed at night.

    • Anthony
      November 30, 2013

      Honestly, one part of this that I believe is crucial is the type of work that was performed. You are talking about a group of people that were out of bed before the sun was up and didn’t stop till the sun was down, and I mean manual labor here. Not these cushy jobs like we work today… Walking be hind a mule plowing fields, splitting wood (without hydraulics), heck, just felling a tree was a major ordeal! And the women did their fair share as well… Bringing water from the well, crop work, tending the house (wasn’t any wonder soap back then either, she usually made that as well), washing clothes without a washer or dryer…. Life demanded physical labor. Hard labor. And I don’t believe that we can imitate that in a gym setting. Notice how workouts are moving more toward manual labor? Flipping tractor tires, swinging big ropes, and swinging sledge hammers? I want to live my life the way they lived their lives. Hard.

    • deb harvey
      December 17, 2013

      the meat and eggs of those days were ‘organic’ by nature.
      our food sources are fed incredible garbage, in many cases.
      you are what you eat.
      however, the other side of the diet coin is movement. if you are burning off most calories by chopping wood, hauling water et cetera you will have few problems with storage of leftover nutrients– there won’t be any!

    • PDXer
      December 18, 2013

      That is why the outer ring in the grocery store is called Grandma food.

    • pat scott
      December 18, 2013

      they had no stress are you joking, they had to grow and/or hunt & gather every bit of food they put in their mouth,they had to harvest fuel to keep warm and grow feed for their animals by hand,no running water,no electric, a woodstove to cook on, all was dependent on the unpredictable, they had to make many of their own clothes then wash them
      by hand, and on and on….their days were long and very tough…..thats STRESS

      • Susan Puckett Smith
        December 19, 2013

        It sounds stressful to us because few of us know how to do those things. When I imagine myself doing those things I see myself stressed out, yes, but mostly from lack of knowledge. There was an abundance of game and few laws such as we have today limiting what and when they could hunt. From their earliest memories they learned how to fell trees, hunt, raise, and butcher animals, and cook them. Girls learned to sew, wash, and mend clothing. Their mothers taught them how to prepare and cook meals with as little waste as possible. Every farm child went to school for the winter season and learned more in those three months than many of us did in nine. The other three seasons they were busy learning how to live. So, I think it’s just our perspective.

    • Carol Deml
      December 18, 2013

      I agree with everything but the stress part. Back when my grandparents were a young couple they physical work harder and longer than we do today. They didn’t have vacation days and the only holiday was Christmas and Easter. They were also very stressed during the “Depression”. My grandma would make my dad’s favorite breakfast – eggs, bacon and bread fried in duck lard. However, they also ate a lot of home grown fruit and vegetables that were grown on the farm without pesticides or fertilizers. They did fertilize the garden in the fall by tilling in aged chicken manure but it went through many rainfalls and melting snow which turned it into a naturally rich soil. They even drank fresh milk straight from the cow to the kitchen table. Nothing was FDA approved as there was no FDA it was just more natural without any chemicals. There was no need for the FDA. There still is no need for the FDA as they are killing us with all of their guidelines and the forced enforcement of chemicals in our everyday food, drugs, health and beauty aids and so on. They still had a lot of stress but it was different stress. My grandparents lived well into their 80’s and my parents are still alive living at home without any special care in their mid 70’s.

      I believe we owe it to the FDA for the cancer hazzards today and for the auto immune, heart diseases etc…We also owe a big thank you to technology for people losing interest in active activities and for being ignorant to how electrical charges and radio active discharges damage not only our health but the health of our environment.

    • tartana@tds.net
      January 3, 2014

      They HAD their fair share of stress just not in the way we do today, they HAD to survive the elements, make sure there was food (no grocery stores or minimal) watch out for raiding factions, life was NOT easy out on the plains and in the cities you had pollution and horrid working conditions. All was not a rosy picture. I am a farmer and I can’t imagine doing it the way they did ( and I am physically whooped as well at age 60), they have even longer work hours(no punching out after 8 hours) than I!!!! Everything depended on the weather so you could make it thru the winter. People also worked every dang day which kept them more physically fit, maybe the key to working off their stress. Both my grandfathers worked their ass’ off and both died farming, both were skinny wirey like men, one died of a heart attack making fence line by the woods, the other after coming in at the end of a hard day’s work. Pioneers worked hard for what we have today and take for granted.

    • Denise
      May 8, 2014

      People ate real food with all the “bad” stuff in it because people worked. They worked HARD back then. The body either used what was eaten, sweated it out or nature took care of it. Today, people do not do enough physical work for good, traditional food. I am in my 50’s and absolutely LOVE meats, gravies, vegetables and fruits. I could eat sausage gravy over toast or biscuits every single day. According to my latest physical, my cholesterol (bad) is really good while the so called “good” cholesterol is a little low. The doctor can find nothing to argue about, including my weight. I take NO daily medications, which doctors seem to find extremely odd. I eat what I want, stopping when I feel full and I work. I do yard work, I have a public job, and am a mother, grandmother and wife. The main thing today’s people lack is the ability to get up and actually DO something. Computers, gaming systems and TV are doing more harm than good.

      • Denise
        May 8, 2014

        Sorry, I entered too quickly. I have 7 children of my own. 4 of those children are grown and the other 3 are 11 thru 14. For the record, my great-grandparents (both sides) lived to be 97, 96, 93 and 89. My grandfathers (both) died early due to accidents. My grandmothers both died at age 88. My dad died at 69 with cancer and my mom is almost 80. She still has a garden and lives in her home. She is as healthy as anyone I know. She doesn’t, however, eat lots of processed foods, foods from restaurants, etc. Maybe there is something to all of this.

  2. Mercy
    October 18, 2013

    And then gave birth? After buttonholes and buttons, milking cows, cleaning and cooking? And no sleep? Wow, she must have been strong. And she writes it in the most casual way, like it was no big deal. Amazing!

    • DaNelle Wolford
      October 18, 2013

      I know, crazy right?

    • Alicia
      October 19, 2013

      She had a serious case of nesting! lol!! (and crunch time before school started for 1/2 a dozen kids…)

      • Ronda
        October 20, 2013

        That’s what I was thinking! I went into a nesting frenzy before my son was born. I cleaned everything in sight. It was weird…I cleaned things I’d never thought of cleaning before. lol.

    • Granny Smith
      October 20, 2013

      Actually, I gave birth to many of mine the same way — early labor was long (about 24 hrs) and mild, so I’d sleep when I could and work when I couldn’t sleep. When I was in early labor w/ my 10th, I took my kids to the mall for a “final hurrah”, saw to the usual meals that day, swept floors, swept the back patio, and did laundry. The baby was born at home with no problems, just plenty of kiddos around to help each other with breakfast & school.
      And no, I’m no superwoman. Just a mom of many who tries to have a healthy diet & positive outlook on life & family. I know a number of other 21st century moms living the same lifestyle.

      • christina
        October 29, 2013

        God bless you Granny Smith! That’s a lot of kids! I would have wanted more than the 2 I have but this day in age we can barely afford the 2 we have!

      • Susan Puckett Smith
        December 19, 2013

        People spend their money on what’s important to them. We can afford more children because we’re not worried about keeping up with the Jones. It doesn’t cost that much to give children what they need. If we cared about brand new everything and electronics and data plans plus a nice vacation to some resort every year then yes it would be difficult to afford. If my husband and I cared about having a new spacious well-appointed house to live in, or having new cars to drive, or him having a country club membership and my having perfectly manicured nails and just the right color of blond hair. We could both have full time jobs and send our children off to be babysat by a frazzled classroom teacher with 30 other kids to look after. But family, especially the children we call blessings, are important enough to us to spend our money and our time on them instead of ourselves.

  3. Sarah McLain
    October 18, 2013

    Great article!! Haha, I laughed out loud at the excert from you ggg grandmother’s journal! What an amazing woman, wow!

  4. Stacey
    October 18, 2013

    And they weren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty and some hard work!! So much we could learn from our ancestors if we look past what those “general numbers & facts” try to tell us. Such a great reminder!

    • DaNelle Wolford
      October 18, 2013

      SO true!

    • Shawn
      October 20, 2013

      I think that has a lot more to do with it. Our ancestors actually did more physically demanding jobs than we do nowadays, not to mention had more physical work at home(even something as simple as doing laundry was not so simple back then).

      You see the people who live a long time nowadays – they exercise a lot. It has less to do with what they eat, and more to do with how active they are.

      • Richard
        October 20, 2013

        Exercise is a factor, but food is more so. I can vouch for this based on my own experience in pulling back from being obese unhealthy and unfit. Exercise made me fit, a little healthier, but I was still obese. Sorting my diet out (which happened later) got rid of the weight and paid huge health dividends. (I did pretty much what is advocated here).

        Now if my exercise slips, I pay later in the gym, but it doesn’t affect my weight or vitality. If my diet slips (I eat sugar) it affects my waistline, my mood, my energy levels and my health.

  5. Kim
    October 18, 2013

    I loved this! Thanks for sharing!! What really surprises me today to is the number of people with diabetes???? You never hear of anyone before the 1900’s having diabetes. I have a family tree book for my grandfathers family on my mothers side that goes back about 200 years. I’m still amazed when I look through it. Ooooh the untold stories tucked away in there! :)

    • Allison
      October 20, 2013

      Diabetes has been recorded since the Greeks. The reason you hear of people living with diabetes now is because we have insulin to treat it (and because type II diabetics prior to requring insulin are detected and diagnosed – although of course, diet does have a lot to do with type II diabetes and it probably was quite a bit rarer when sugar wasn’t in everything). Prior to insulin therapy, people with diabetes just died.

      • Kim
        October 22, 2013

        Wow. That’s interesting! And yes sugar is in EVERYTHING it seems like.

      • mukul
        October 22, 2013

        Correct….diabetes was then too……but more of undetected,unterated and all….

      • Ens
        October 23, 2013

        Agree witht he article though. We eat too much pasta bread, rice etc not enough complex carbs. I own a healthshop an am seeing mature onset diabetes (50-60 yr old) in children as young as 8. IT IS THE FOOD AND LIFESTYLE!! too much energy food not enough energy expended running around outside building cubbies and exploring.

      • Lisa
        October 26, 2013

        Allison, I think you have alluded to a very important distinction; when we talk about diabetes being diet related and therefore more common now than it was before 1900, we’re referring to Type 2 Diabetes, not Type 1. Type 2 diabetes is caused by lifestyle (diet, stress, sedentary living), but Type 1 diabetes typically is not. Type 2 diabetes is not treated with insulin. Type 2 diabetes can be treated and in many cases reversed with dietary changes.

    • Adrianne
      October 28, 2013

      605 pounds of dairy?? That seems so unrealistic. I would consider myself a heavy dairy consumer and can’t figure out how I am eating more than 400 pounds of dairy in a year.

      • Susan Puckett Smith
        December 19, 2013

        Dairy includes a LOT of products besides milk, like butter, cheese (slices, shreds, cottage cheese ricotta, etc.), yogurt, ice cream, cream cheese, sour cream, etc. etc. etc. and remember that a gallon of milk weighs eight pounds ;)

    • Amy
      November 20, 2013

      Type 2 Diabetes is often treated with insulin. Runs in my dad’s family, six generations back at least. They used pork insulin back in the way back. That is on my dad’s mother’s side. My dad’s father’s side, heart attacks took them all in their late 60s for as far back as we can trace, which is 12 generations. Oddly, on my mother’s father’s side, it is cancer we can trace back for generations. My Grandfather died of pancreatic cancer in the early 60s. They did not eat “modern” foods. His family tree was thick with cancer going way back. My mother’s mothers family…they just live and suffer with congestive heart failure and “rheumatism” which is most likely osteoarthritis until their mid-80s. So, this is not fact for me. The other thing, if you search genealogy records, so many people died of “natural causes”. If we can cure THAT disease, we would be in great shape. But there is NO telling what that really meant. Most likely heart disease or cancer. Our family record lines have been carefully kept. While I am all for a clean diet, I think I need to see more real research into this topic before I believe this line of logic.

  6. Anita
    October 18, 2013

    Love, love this post!

  7. Pat Gaston
    October 18, 2013

    Actually they did have worries in their lives. Look at the dates and then what was going on in history. Also if they farmed it was always a stress due to weather , insects, flooding blizzards etc. I think most peoples faith was a great help and they did what had to be done ! read the Little House series….but store bought foods and too much of any thing isn’t good for ya! Great post! My great grandparents lived into their late 70’s . Their children { 9} all dies in their late 80’s or 90’s and one died at 102.

  8. mimi
    October 18, 2013

    Actually, it was recently proven that eating bacon lowers sperm quality in men. Although I Agree on avoiding processed food. And our ancestors didn’t have to deal with alarm-clocks, mobbing and other stress-sources we deal with today, it was a different kind of stress, it wasn’t some corporate authority that dictated their lives, especially those farmers’.

    • tori
      October 19, 2013

      I would be interested in seeing the study behind this statement. Was it clean pork that was cured in traditional methods or was it chemal laden CAFO pork? I’m thinking the chemicals are the likely culprit.

    • Ronda
      October 20, 2013

      Mimi, I read about bacon being bad for fertility in men also. That’s why the only thing I would add to this wonderful post is that the meat, bacon and lard in the stores today is not the same as our ancestors ate. If we raise it ourselves or buy organic meat we might be able to come close to their diet.

    • WJ
      October 20, 2013

      And another scientific study that was recently released said that eating bacon extends your lifespan. If you’re worried about nitrates/nitrites then avoid spinach, celery, etc as they have tens to hundreds higher levels of nitrates/nitrites than bacon and ham.

    • Mike P
      October 22, 2013

      mimi there is bacon and there is free range bacon. First one is high in Omega 6 (inflammatory) and free range is high in Omega 3 (anti-inflammatory) plus no antibiotics. Same goes for all animal product like cattle and chickens.

    • jeanie
      November 5, 2013

      Given there was no birth control, I would think a lowered sperm count would be a blessing to a lot of women!!!

      • Susan Puckett Smith
        December 19, 2013

        Why?

  9. Cathy
    October 18, 2013

    Plus they were very active…no sitting at the computer hour after hour. They labored for their food and ate what they grew..and didn’t have all the stuff injected or fed into their meat that we do now. Yea for strong pioneering family to guide us along.

  10. Dawn Peluso
    October 18, 2013

    Well if it lowers sperm quality it must not be to big of an effect,people back then ate it and had LOTS of kids (family sizes were much bigger on average then). Its probably some of the chemicals found in some of the processed stuff they call bacon today.

  11. Jess
    October 18, 2013

    I would so love to live like this! I just don’t have the time :( I love food from scratch too! Especially bread. My dream is to buy an old farm house with some property and be able to raise chickens and grow veggies…and not have to work a regular job…I do love my bacon drippings and butter though. I refuse to substitute that stuff :)

  12. Ginger
    October 18, 2013

    It is true that not everyone died young. If you made it past early childhood, you had a better chance of a long, full life. It’s hard to actually say that heart disease and diabetes and cancer was rare – they had no technology for diagnosing these illnesses until they were at the very late stages. Eating the way our ancestors ate only works if you live the life our ancestors lived. They walked many miles rather than depended on cars to get them everywhere. They worked hard from sun up to sun down. Even the act of drawing a bath required a whole lot more effort than it does today. You cannot expect to live a 21st century life while eating a 19th/20th century diet. It won’t work. Avoiding processed foods and eating a whole foods diet is big start, but you also need to keep active as well.

    • Bert
      October 19, 2013

      It actually isn’t hard to say at all. Heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer were rare and they did have the means to diagnose them. We’ve been mislead and lied to about the the lipid hypothesis and it’s done nothing but lead us to disease !
      Most Americans are deficient in vitamin D. Lard from pastured pigs is second only to cod fish liver oil in it’s vitamin D content. We replaced that with hydrogenated cotton seed oil (CRISCO) which had none and was full of free-radial causing, oxidized lipids. Today it’s Canola, corn, soy, etc. Not as bad as hydrogenated oils but still lack vitamin D and oxidize when heated even if they’re cold pressed. And then in the summer we block vitamin D with sunblock !

      • Melissa Combs
        October 20, 2013

        Yes, I agree. Medical technology was far more advanced in the 1800s than we have been led to believe. I know for a fact they had the means to diagnose heart disease at least – I don’t have time to look up a link now but the info is not hard to find if you look for it. To listen to people nowadays you would think anyone who lived before the 1900s was an ignorant cave person with no brains or technology whatsoever.

    • Valerie
      October 21, 2013

      THAT is a great point you make here! Thanks.

    • Deb
      October 29, 2013

      Hi Ginger, good point. It is true, i grew up on a farm, we ate only pure food that we grew and reared. I didnt have one ounce of cellulite on me, we were fit and healthy, outdoors all day riding the horses or working the farm, we were in balance. After i left the farm and had a home in the suburbs ate packet food and drank chlorine water i became very ill with chronic fatigue and had more cellulite than i could point a stick at, then we went back to farm living, cooking on the fire and working outside, hand washing. the weird thing is even though i was glad to have my modern conveniences back i couldnt help but notice how thin and strong i had become again and how my health improved as did my emotional state, until we moved into the house and all the cleaning products and stress of paying power bills and mortgages hit again. I personally found that more stressful than the outside work. I think our living environment does cause more stress than doing some things the old fashion way, but washing machines and bathrooms is the one thing i would not like to be with out again.

  13. Joyce Wilson
    October 18, 2013

    Find a good healthy natural product that provides all the nutrition your body needs. As a cancer survivor, I found something that has turned back the clock for me. I also stay away from junk food, GMO products and HFCS. Loving life and living it to the MAX.

    • Kate Hodson
      October 19, 2013

      What did you find

      • elizabeth
        October 19, 2013

        I’d like to know too!

  14. Kevin West
    October 19, 2013

    Loved the article. But have 1 little thing. They did not drink whole milk, they drank skim milk. they would skim the cream off the milk, to make butter. That’s where the term skim milk came from. It was literally the milk that had already been skimmed of the cream, the other milk was sitting, waiting for the cream to rise to the top. I lived with my Great Grand Parents, while I was a teenager. I remember the milking, and putting it in a big bowl and putting it in the fridge over night. The next morning the cream was skimmed off and stored in a pitcher, and the rest was poured in a bottle, to be drank. Once a week, my GGmother churned the butter. I, still to this day, do not care for whole milk, would rather drink 2% or 1% milk.

    • Gayle1942
      October 19, 2013

      I’m with you, Kevin West. When I was growing up, we went to the dairy farm and got our milk almost directly from the cow. Took it home and let it sit overnight. Next day, poured off the cream and drank the skimmed milk. I still can’t drink whole milk, either. Way to fatty!

      I also grew up without TV so we played outside a lot more than modern children do. Then I grew up and lead the same sedentary lifestyle of most modern humans and it certainly shows in my waistline and the number of pills I take. I think we added bad stuff to our diets and removed good stuff from our physical behavior (walking, working outside, etc.) and we suffer from it. Too far removed from the farm.

      • Rebekkah Smith
        October 22, 2013

        From what I’ve heard, skim milk was considered undrinkable. Families wouldn’t drink the milk once they’d skimmed the fat off the top. They would feed it to pigs, however, to fatten them up. I mean, if you have a dairy cow, you’re getting way more milk in a day then your whole family (probably of like 10 people) could drink in a day.

    • brandi
      October 19, 2013

      Um no whole milk is less than 4% fat, where did the other part go to, it was skimmed off the top, heavy whipping cream is only 30 something percent fat. I know there is Protein and water and some sugars, so todays whole milk sounds like yesteryears skimmed milk. Of course not Always pasteurized and certainly not homgenized.

      • Rebecca
        October 20, 2013

        Brandi, Cow’s milk is naturally about 4% fat, straight from the cow, while goat’s is about 3.5% fat. The previous posters’ statements were correct.

  15. Earl Hanson
    October 19, 2013

    I was raised on a farm with 9 bros. and 3 Sisters and we used to mix lard and syrup together to dip the bread in..Mom baked 8 loaves of bread every day and we drank whole milk bacon ,ham , eggs potatoes and vegies that were grown on the farm..We were to poor to buy anything but sugar and flour and yeast and baking pwoder..My Dad would take a 50 bushel load of wheat to town in th fall and trade it for ten hundred pd bags of flour..My mom lived to be 93 and all of us lived to be over 85 on av.but we all worked off all the calories back then..We didn’t eat much sweets so we all had good teeth..I didn’t have a cavity until I was 21 yrs old..From drinking a lot of milk no dought…I am 87 and in real good health..Still bowl ten games a week and no aches or pains and my fingers are still in good enough shape that i can play my guitar ..I give God credit for that !!!

    • elizabeth
      October 19, 2013

      Wow!! You’re amazing! We are trying to give our kids that lifestyle today. You’re story is inspiring!

      • jinksy
        October 20, 2013

        yes inspiring….blimey!!!

    • DaNelle Wolford
      October 28, 2013

      Love this story Earl!

  16. synthetic
    October 19, 2013

    And when does frying make something natural? Now we are getting into chemistry, remember using a bunson burner in highschool to begin a reaction ? lard is not pure saturated fat – so what is happening to those unsaturated fats… they get turned into transfats.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18680380

    • brandi
      October 19, 2013

      That is an article on nuts and seeds find an article on lard or animal fats, then come back.

  17. John Gregory
    October 19, 2013

    I’m all for food cooked in lard. If it is breaded, all the more better. I grew up on that kind of food, however, I worked on the farm and burnt at least 3,000 calories a day.
    I don’t do that sort of work anymore so I can’t afford (health-wise) to eat that sort of food.

  18. Dawn
    October 19, 2013

    I agree with the concept of real, whole food being better but I don’t think Sacrates was the best example to use here. Sacrates’s diet would not have been “bacon, lard &. Whole milk”. At least not normally. Greek diets would have traditionally included nuts, fish, fruits, grains, ect. The fats from bacon, animal fats & dairy aren’t nearly as healthy as oils from nuts, oily veggies, & fish.

  19. elizabeth
    October 19, 2013

    I wonder if it wasbacon soaked in nitrites that was shown to have affected men’s health.
    Great post!!!

    • Kevin
      December 19, 2013

      You mean salt? It isn’t bacon if it isn’t preserved with salt.. by definition.

  20. Cynthia Lara
    October 20, 2013

    I just discovered lard from grass fed fat. I get the butcher to save me the fat. I heat the fat at 210 for several hours. The crunchy parts left over make excellent treats for the dogs. This is the best salve for feet and minor wounds. We have been brainwashed into thinking fat is bad. The Bible has several references about land rich with fat, honey or milk. The fat makes a great suppository, using gloves, for constipation.

    • Prairie Child
      October 22, 2013

      Frying up the fat……My grandma use to take bits of fat and some meat to fry up. She would fry it most of the way hard…but made sure it had some moisture still in it. It was called ‘Cracklins’. This was used as snacks..to stuff in your pockets or cooked into cornbread…Wonderful stuff that..

  21. Rosa52
    October 20, 2013

    Great article! I do juicing & smoothies so that I can get all the good from them (especially since I don’t like veggies) but believe in a regular real food (organic-grass fed) diet. I truly dislike the fads going on about eating raw foods, vegans, Paleo, Atkins, South Beach, etc.; when all we have to do is eat real food and exercise since we no longer work the hours and do the kind of work our grandparents did.

    • Debrah
      October 20, 2013

      Hi Rosa, Most vegans choose that lifestyle because we don’t want to be involved with the cruelty that ‘food’ animals are subjected to for the most part, in this day and age. Except for grass fed beef, most purchased eggs, dairy, and pig come from horrible environments that you would never, ever want to subject your dog or cat too. Even CAFO beef has it better than the other animals that you eat or use because at least the majority of their lives are spent on a field somewhere whereas it’s ‘prison’ from birth to death for pigs, chickens and turkeys. Our lifestyle also pertains not only to the food we eat (or don’t) but also to whether or not household and personal care products are tested on helpless animals (most are), our clothing (no wool or leather) and entertainment (we don’t go to zoos, rodeos or dog fights, etc.)

      • Erin
        October 21, 2013

        I agree with most of your post Debrah except the “no wool” clothing. Harvesting wool does not involve any animal cruelty (unless there is a new method of it that I”m not aware of?). I think sheep would be uncomfortable if they were not sheared so it is doing the sheep a service just as you might have your dog groomed.

        I am not a vegan but I relate and am also disgusted by conventional modern farming. We raise all of our own meat and eggs for that reason.

  22. ArielMalek
    October 20, 2013

    Excellent and very interesting post. I’m not surprised and don’t doubt that their food was a big factor. But I believe quite a few other factors all synergistically contributed to overall health-not just longevity but minimal disease and vitality and overall contentment in life. All their hard physical work which not only burnt off all those healthy calories, but kept their bodies trim, fit and in excellent shape-but also relieved a lot of stress and contributed to mental health. Also the work was their own farms or shops so with a sense of dignity and autonomy vs today’s workers often driven or slaving as a cog in a wheel with often little satisfaction. Also those folks normally had healthy, intact families which along with the larger network of good relationships with the extended community of neighbors, was also such a vital contribution to mental and emotional and so physical health. But also our ancestors by and large had a strong faith in God. Studies show that 75% of illness is due to stress and 80% to negative emotions (the mind-body connection of the limbic system). Studies also show that people with a strong faith in God are better able to handle life’s stresses and things like negative emotions. Plus many studies also clearly show that prayer itself definitely does help bring healing. I myself have seen many miracles of healing from prayers of faith including breast cancer, and all sorts of ailments.
    But also back to the food-our ancestors soil was not near as depleted of nutrients as today’s soil. They’ve found food from the civil war in jars that despite the processing and over a century of storage was still far more nutritious than vegetables grown today.

    • MarkR
      October 22, 2013

      The millions of bacteria, fungi, viruses that lived in natural soil contributed to the thousands of chemicals and trace elements that bodies and crops need to thrive. Plants need much more than 8-8-8 fertilizer added to today’s sterile clay farm dirt.

      • Prairie Child
        October 22, 2013

        Our bodies need lots of iodine/magnesium, which naturally occurs in animal manure. Most commercial farming use chemicals these days, so no iodine/magnesium in the plants/animals. The US is mostly depleted of iodine in it’s soil since commercial farming took hold.
        The gut needs certain bacteria’s to work properly…now that most things are be irradiated against all bacteria’s you may as well be eating cardboard.

  23. RHJunior
    October 20, 2013

    Of course, there’s also the fact that all the people who might have succumbed to degenerative diseases in old age were dying as children….

    • Lisa
      October 26, 2013

      That’s really speculation. However, I do agree that modern medicine’s ability to save the lives of babies/children who otherwise would have died has weakened our gene pool. Take caesarean sections for example: if a deer births a fawn that is too large to pass between the doe’s hipbones, both die, therefore the gene for narrow hips and/or large head does not get passed on. Not so with humans, and the problem perpetuates through the generations. (I am aware that narrow hips/large head are not the only reasons for C-sections, but hopefully you can see my point).

    • Lisa
      October 26, 2013

      But a better analogy perhaps would be Type 1 diabetes, which is quickly fatal if not treated. The discovery of insulin and subsequent treatment has saved untold numbers of lives, and has also allowed these individuals to pass on their genes for predisposition to Type 1 diabetes.

      But you are asserting that Type 2 diabetes is more likely in someone who would have died from an infection at birth or whooping cough as a child had they not been immunized. There’s no way to prove that. And while genetics may be part of the risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, it seems clear that lifestyle is the major player in this modern epidemic.

  24. Mary
    October 20, 2013

    I’m always amazed at how many generations some families squeeze into 100 years. My family is the exact opposite. I was born in 1964, my father in 1917, and his father in 1863!

  25. stef
    October 20, 2013

    maybe we just went through a period where we over did it — bang for buck meals where a lot of food meant you were getting your money’s worth rather than high-quality foods. growing a little garden is the best way to learn about nutrition. I just never wanted to put anything processed on veggies and fruit from the garden, it was like they were my children and I wanted to treat them well, relish them. and then EAT them ;) no … but really …. wholesome foods are SO tasty, why screw it up with anything over-processed.

  26. Melani
    October 20, 2013

    What’s missing in this discussion is the danger and spread of electro magnetic fields. Smart meters, cell phones, wi-fi, computers, cell towersall are a big contributing factor why there is such a rise in cancer, heart disease. Its killing our cells. I for one am very sensitive to all that. Read Zapped by Ann Louise Gittleman. There’s also all these medicines wreacking havoc on our health. There’s chemicals, pesticides that they didn’t have back then. Of course, the GMO thing. So i think trying to eat organic, exercise, sunshine, grounding is more needful than ever. Also though they ate that. Im sure they probably ate a lot of vegetables and fruits as well. They didnt have aspartame. All these fake stuff.

  27. Shari
    October 20, 2013

    I agree in part with this article we should definitly get away from processed foods.. The butter and Lard I disagree… Everyone has different genetics while some folks may thrive and live long lives eating such others may not… Read up on the APOE Gynotypes I am a 4/4 and suffered a Heart Attack by 47 (No I did not smoke) for people who are Apoe 4/4 Lard and butter from any source will kill you quickly… Perhaps Heart disease does not run in some familys and that accounts for the long longevity… There are writing by Socrates of people clutching there chests and dying… Mummies have also hardening of the coranry arteries… This is not a new disease and it is completely irresponsible to assume that butter and lard are good fits for everyone.

  28. jinksy
    October 20, 2013

    I think most of you have a very valid response…and very interested to add something too…as I am a tree builder for my family ancestry as a lil hobby I did to see that the male side of my tree had suffered for many many generations from heart disease…….so I was only waiting for my turn …..some how I knew…it happened and I survived scad-lad….anyway this eating bacon and lard etc isn’t good…… as it all boils down to but I wonder all these low fat spread alternatives were are told are one molecule from plastic??? and we fed turkeys before it wasn’t suitable as it killed them rather than to quick fatten etc..blah blah blah…horrific!!.. just stay on a low fat diet eat less and exercise when you can.you are in control of what you put in your mouth….are we not??…no processed food etc etc….our food quality I will say has become less and less nutritionally benefit to us and what was good as in say cabbage we need to eat 3 to have the same nutrional balance apparently…….all due to the fast growth of produce for matching the markets demands…..anyway….I think I would rather have a little lard then processed spread alternatives as the body process the butter better than processed spread…but have a little butter and be very sparing… too much of anything will kill you….lol….

    • Prairie Child
      October 22, 2013

      Good genes…..It starts there….If your family history is long…then you will have a better chance of living a long life too. If not….then.

  29. Al
    October 20, 2013

    Hard work and much exercise that came from the physical work can cover a multitude of sins when it comes from less than perfect diet. Lack of a physical active life and over eating poor quality food is the cause of many of our health problems today.

  30. patrick
    October 21, 2013

    I don’t get why infant mortality was higher in the past? All we’ve done since is add a lot of pharmaceutical pills? and the births were more natural previously, less vaccines for example, less pain killer pharmaceutical pills given to the mother

    • wiwille
      October 21, 2013

      I think you just answered your own question.

    • Nicole
      October 22, 2013

      If I had my children back then, probably my child or I or both would have died in childbirth (both breech c-sections). People complain about the increase in c-sections now, and how horrible that is, etc. But for many of us it allows a safe birth to happen without maiming or death. And vaccines? Yea, they are all terrible, which is why we have rampant cases of polio now…oh wait….

      • Prairie Child
        October 22, 2013

        I had a c-section..breech.. I had gallbladder surgery. So there is a time and a place. When vaccines first came on the market it was out of necessity for population growth. Now it is out of greed of a few. And, forcing people to be vaccinated is just plain wrong! If vaccines work..then should it matter that you are around unvaccinated people?

  31. Robin
    October 21, 2013

    Love this article! The traditional diet is definitely better for our bodies than the Standard American Diet of processed foods, fast foods, and such. Even better is the our ancestral diet which is like the traditional diet, but without the grains and dairy (ghee or grass-fed butter is allowed). Modern science has shown us that grains, sugars, and dairy are toxic to our systems on a cellular level causing inflammation, chronic illness, and disease. I would have loved to sit down and talk with your great grandma and learn from her :-) She sounds amazing!

    • Kathy Ruder
      December 18, 2013

      If dairy is toxic to all humans, then how have the more ancient cultures that subsisted on dairy products survived? I think a lot has to do with genetics…and also what is DONE to the dairy and/or added to it.

  32. FlameWar
    October 21, 2013

    Anybody wanna see me start a flamewar by suggesting that the reason for the decreased infant/child mortality rates between now and the 1890s was VACCINES?

  33. Trish Short Lewis
    October 21, 2013

    My grandmother was much the same way. I’ve been doing family history for over 40 years. I am finding that their attitudes made all the difference. We’re soft today. Having it too easy turns out to be a bad thing, overall…

  34. Marie
    October 21, 2013

    I think today’s stress is different. Times before were harder yet simpler. Today it’s easier yet more complicated. Must add GMO foods can meat raised with steroids and antibiotics I’m sure add to unhealthy bodies and very hard to avoid, sadly.

    • Marilynn Raymond
      November 30, 2013

      I agree with you, Marie. Our whole lifestyle has drastically changed from back in the turn of he 20th century. I do remember both grandmothers killing chickens for dinner that ran around in their front yards. We don’t do physical work as they did that burned calories, built muscles, put you outdoors to get sun and fresh air. We eat fast food and prepared foods that have so many unhealthy additives to them. Also, our food chain is altered with hormones, sprays, etc. that we ingest. It’s got to have a negative effect on us.

  35. the farnz
    October 21, 2013

    And you’re contributing to the discussion how??

    • Marilynn Raymond
      November 30, 2013

      And Farnz, how are you contributing to this discussion other than apparently being critical of someones ideas.

  36. Cindy
    October 22, 2013

    I think one reason folks could eat the way they did 70-80 years ago was also the amount of physical labor almost everyone did!!! A large percentage of families had only one person that worked at public work…and some had NONE! In order to support a family almost everyone had to be farmers….and that was a lot of hard, time consuming physical labor!!

  37. Makayla
    October 22, 2013

    Ahhh, love this!!! Very well said!

  38. Tariq Tartir
    October 22, 2013

    They used to eat what they wanted but they used to walk and move around all day long .Nowadays people drive their cars anywhere they go , even for very short trips .

  39. Krysia
    October 22, 2013

    I currently live in Poland, but in in the US for my first 22 years. Here we have the pre-World War II generation, many died during the war, executions, concentration camps, illness, etx. But the people who survived – wow are they resilient. I know a 97 ear old lady who was a war press connector and activist who still travels to the US, Ukraina, to help with charity and Polish organizations for improverised children. She’s a little deaf, but that’s from being too close to the artillery during a ceremonial opening. My grandpa who lived through WWI and WWII lived to 86, ate his lard and eggs as often as possible and talking a walk even on his last day. No disease, no ailments. My mom, his daughter, had her first heart attack at 56, bypass surgery at 57 due to artery clogging. SAD diet of course, no eggs ( due to chronic high cholesterol results), vegetable oil and refined flours and sugar in excess. She’s now back in Poland, 12 years post surgery, drinking goat’s milk, eating and cooking with goose szmalc and butter by the kilo and living life with so much energy and vitality. Diet and lifestyle trumps all.

    • Lisa
      October 26, 2013

      While your second statement is true, the first is patently false. Here’s a good place to start bringing your knowledge up to date: [url="http://chriskresser.com/specialreports/heartdisease"]Heart Disease/Cholesterol[\url]

    • Lisa
      October 26, 2013

      Oops, my fancy linky-powers didn’t work. Here’s the address again, cut and paste into your browser’s address field:

      http://chriskresser.com/specialreports/heartdisease

  40. Onno Bruin
    October 22, 2013

    Tempting to believe the argument for ancestors living so long, but their lives cannot be compared to ours.
    Any infection could kill you. Many deseases that are easily treated nowadays were fatal in old times.
    To survive these people were working much harder than we can imagine. The energy they consumed was actually used. If you eat like these people and are sitting behind your desk at work, you will not burn that energy, it will be converted in fat. Clogging up your veins.

    True, infant mortality brought the average age down, but so did dying giving birth, a cough, a little infection.
    In the family tree I have managed to construct I have noticed that – indeed – many grandparents lived to impressive ages… But many more that needed to remarry because a spouse died.

    In all, you cannot compare this age with an age before penicillin.. Co pare it with an age where people died because a tooth got infected and the infection spread through the body..

    By all means. Eat the bacon, lard etc, but make sure that the energy you put into your body is also used up.
    Any leftovers in that equation will be transformed to fat….. For the meager times….

  41. Samantha
    October 22, 2013

    I believe the comment above is correct. They physically worked a lot harder than us back then not sitting at desks all day or infront of the tele. I would say eat a wide variety of foods and everything in moderation combined with regular exercise is the best way to stay healthy..

  42. MarkR
    October 22, 2013

    One of the greatest advances in health was the refrigerated rail car-truck. It brought a wide variety of fresh food to millions. Then came chemically grown, processed foods which put an end to that advantage. And yet, the only green food that many people eat is iceberg lettuce. Gather what knowledge is available and make good choices. You are, as always, primarily responsible for your own health.

  43. SteveC
    October 22, 2013

    I met my great-grandfather when I was about age 9 – he did a few years later at age 95. He had the standard fatty breakfast, and lived in the cold of Nova Scotia.

  44. Marilyn Brown
    October 22, 2013

    So much I have read above I whole heartedly agree with. Even more than that is listen to your own body and follow those leads. My body told me two things very early on. First that sugar was not a stimulant but just the opposite. I use very little sugar and try to only have small portions of desserts. Nor can I tolerate any type of artificial sweetners. I am gradually eliminating preservatives but MSG was eliminated many years ago. Why does natural food cost so much more than regular food. I grew up eating a lot of home grown food. My ancestors all had a history of growing their own food with most living into their 80’s and 90’s. I am in my 70’s and still grow some of my own veggies. If you have not had a tomato fresh from the garden you can not know how good a tomato can taste.
    Also, as I have been telling my friends and family who keep talking diets they need to stop eating like our fathers did or work like they did.

  45. Leigh
    October 22, 2013

    My husband is from a remote village in Fiji – no lie. And while he was raised with a LOT of fish (as in breakfast, lunch and dinner most of the time) they also eat all the fat of anything they make. Beef and pork are for special occasions (weddings, funerals, new chief installations, etc.), so lard and bacon are not eaten frequently, and likewise, although they have their own cows, dairy is not frequently consumed in the village (most folks have no way to reliably refridgerate the milk.) However, they eat coconut cream and/or coconut oil e-v-e-r-y day. On some days it is part of every meal. And they make their coconut cream and oil themselves – in the village. And if it’s not in the rice, it’s in the main dish. If it’s not in either of those it’s in the baked goods. They eat what they’ve grown or caught. They are exercising and eating fresh, whole food, away from pollution, nearly every day (there is a rare occasion when they take a very long, bumpy ride to town when they need something they can’t acquire in the village.) They are also able to rest when they are tired (like villagers in Mexico having their sietas in mid-day, the Fijian villagers also rest during the hottest part of the day.) When you have a need – from building a house to raising your children – you have a village to help you. They help eachother. They have their stresses though too, such as cyclones killing their crops or destroying their modest homes; dengue fever (but that’s worse in the city where there is higher population); the hospital is a 2 hour drive when the roads are good (they sometimes wash out in heavy rain – although the village has a small health center); there is various poisonous sea life that afflicts folks from time to time, etc. But those people are strong as oxen and my mother-in-law, who was born in 1933, only had to start wearing glasses a couple of years ago. She is still very strong and healthy. I firmly believe that fats don’t kill us. Leading a sedentary life while eating poor food and exposing ourselves to pollution (including smoking of all kinds, over medicating, noise pollution, etc.) is what is killing us and causing our illnesses. My husband came to America to see for himself what it was like here. Even though Fiji sounds like paradise, many of those who live there can’t help but wonder about America, wondering if the grass really is greener (Fiji is still very third world in many aspects). But he’s seen it for himself over the last few years and he’s ready for home. We have a four year old and are in the process of planning to move back to the village so our little one can be raised with her cousins in Fiji. Looking forward to it! :o]

  46. Laura Catherine
    October 22, 2013

    Wonderful article. I’ve reposted it on my blog’s Facebook page.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Charming-Farming/358903887557666?ref=hl

  47. Lynda Frame
    October 22, 2013

    Loved this article. I do all I can to avoid ‘manufactured’ food in order to eat a true food diet. How difficult this is to do; consider where the fruit and veg travelled from, the meat, eggs~this kind of info is simply NOT AVAILABLE. Keep up your good work.

    • Karin Hauenstein
      October 27, 2013

      How the animals are commercially slaughtered also has great bearing on the healthfulness and quality of the meat. It doesn’t matter as much how they are raised if their stunning is botched and they are vivisected while conscious.

  48. Jessica Clark
    October 23, 2013

    This is all quite true, and all things I’ve discussed with my grandfather whom was lucky enough to have lived on a farm as a boy during the depression. I think on the flip-side, however, there were far less preservatives, chemicals, and processing that was happening to our food. Beyond that, you really had to WORK for your food and were burning far more calories than the average person today would burn.

  49. Felicia
    October 23, 2013

    It comes down to calories in…calories out. Our ancestors ate lard, bacon, sausage, eggs, potatoes, cornbread, and fried chicken…let’s for a moment look at the later…my grandmother too killed, dress, and fried her own chicken. The amount of calories you burn, prepping your catching, killing, dressing, butchering, frying a chicken, far out weighs the amount of calories it takes to go to the grocery store pick up a pack of chicken, flour, and fry.

    Most of our ancestors worked HARD to put food on the table! While most of the food we put on our table to day is processed garbage, we still need to be aware that at the end of the day if what you take in is more than what you burn, heart disease, obesity, diabetes will still be an issue not matter how Whole the food.

  50. Roberta
    October 23, 2013

    “Turns out grandma & grandpa knew how to live a long, healthy life with traditional food!”

    What is “traditional” food? How far are we going to go back? Traditional for whom?

    The beef, pork, chicken, and dairy industries of today are putting food-like substances on store shelves, but are you proud to serve it to your family? The violence, the horrid and unregulated conditions in which animals live and die, and the concentrated pollution is abhorrent. Ours is not a sustainable food system. Local, plant-based diets are healthier for EVERYONE.

    • DaNelle Wolford
      October 24, 2013

      Hi Roberta,

      Thanks for commenting! We actually do not buy factory meat. We raise our own animals for meat, because I don’t like to support CAFO’s. On our acre lot, we raise goat’s for milk, chickens for eggs, lambs & chickens for meat, and we also have a huge vegetable garden and fruit trees. I believe sustainability IS possible with a balanced diet, not just a plant-based diet. And unfortunately, unless you live closer to the equator, you would not be able to sustain yourself through the seasons with plants only.

  51. Charie
    October 25, 2013

    Fabulous article DaNelle :)

  52. norma
    October 26, 2013

    My ancestors ate tortillas and frijoles. Unfortunately, today tortillas are made with GMO corn.

  53. Michael Tracy
    October 26, 2013

    I didn’t take the time to read all the responses above so maybe someone already mentioned this but I believe another key factor to our ancestor’s longevity was their very active lifestyle. If we ate like they did AND were as active as they were then we might get similar results… but today not only do we not eat like they did but we are also very sedentary in comparison.

    • Sylvia
      November 20, 2013

      Definitely, we are, in general, too sedentary!

  54. helen
    October 27, 2013

    how can I find some one to teach this sort of life style in my area ?

  55. Karin Hauenstein
    October 27, 2013

    The difference in eating meat now and eating meat before commercial industrial slaughter started controlling their own industry regulation enforcement and perverting the processes for profit reasons is extreme. Right now, the levels of adrenaline and cortisol distributed to the consumer population in hamburger and processed meat products is astounding.

    Back in the day, these people raised their own beef or it was raised locally, and they had their own local butcher who took pride in slaughtering correctly for humane standards, a high quality product and the health of himself, his family and his community. Today, commercial industrial slaughter of cattle and other meat animals has been successful at consolidating itself to very few, large slaughterhouses across our Nation. There are less than 20 beef slaughterhouses operating at speeds of OVER TWICE what is possible for correctly slaughtered, humane beef standards. Plants that should be slaughtering no more than 150-200 cows an hour are incorrectly stunning nearly 40% of 400+ cows per hour. Failure to correctly stun a cow results in multiple stuns and vivisection during consciousness — both illegal under Federal Law. There are no USDA officials stationed near the kill box, only in pre-slaughter inspection and processing. The result is nearly half of the beef cows slaughtered die piece by piece and distribute huge amounts of adrenaline to the consuming population in their flesh.

    The system is broken. Is it no wonder that Colorectal and other digestive Cancers are reaching epidemic proportions in our population?

  56. Ms. Cunningham
    October 28, 2013

    Back then our ancestor ate REAL FOOD. Nowadays everything is so overly processed and chemical ridden that often their isn’t a ‘real food’ ingredient present. This goes beyond mere ‘convenience’ foods. It’s convenient to put a little thought into what you eat enough to plan and prep ahead, not partake in prepackaged meals that have a list of ingredients you cannot pronounce. Back then food was to sustain life, now food is used as a marketing device for the people behind the curtain to make money. We stopped caring about quality and started focusing on quantity. We need to care a little more about ourselves enough to put more thought into what we’re consuming and put a little less focus on the rush of the world.

  57. Brad
    October 28, 2013

    My great-great-great grandparents Nelsen emigrated from Denmark in 1856 and lived the rest of their lives in the Bear Lake Valley in Idaho. They died aged 93, never learning English. They probably maintained a traditional Danish farm diet. Soren Nelsen born 19 March 1803 Flade Parish, Hjørring, Denmark died 15 April 1896 Bloomington, Idaho; Christiana Larsen born 29 Mar 1804 Flade Parish, Hjørring, Denmark died 21 Aug 1897 Bloomington, Idaho; married 6 October 1827 Elling Parish, Hjørring, Denmark.

  58. Marci Turpin
    October 28, 2013

    My grandmother lived to be 104 years old. she survived the spanish american war, the great war (WW 1) and WW2. my father, 1 of 9 all lived beyond their 90’s. the only thing they didn’t eat was anything packaged or prepared. good old fashioned home cooking. Lard, eggs, meat, fish, and fowl. my grandmother smoked every saturday night with grandfather (lived to be 98).

    I cooked all my children’s baby food. no prepared foods for them. I breast feed them until they started school (5 yrs old) they are healthy as horses (34 yrs, & 36 yr old) Never any fast food or the likes. if they wanted hamburgers, they were made at home also the fries. At this age, they still haven’t had the displeasure of dental cavaties.

  59. Dani
    October 28, 2013

    I’m wondering how all those people who lived to be to their 80s and 90s back in the day did eventually die? I mean, of the four leading causes of death listed, only 2 are possible for older adults (infection and accident. Obviously an 80 year old is not dying of childbirth or as an infant). Are we to believe that most of those lucky enough to make it to old age back then died from infection and accident alone?

  60. Cathy
    October 29, 2013

    I take issue with the statement that the diseases we have prevalent in todays society did not exist back then. yes they did, but the difference is we did not have todays technology to diagnose said diseases. most of the time they were chalked up to old age, possession, being crazy, etc. every disease we have now that we know of still existed hundreds and thousands of years ago. they may not have been as prevalent as now, thanks to all the crap put in our food and environment, but they have been and will always be there.

    • DaNelle Wolford
      October 30, 2013

      Hi Cathy,

      I didn’t say they didn’t exist. I said they were rare.

  61. ThatOne
    October 29, 2013

    Not only did they eat all that, but let’s remember how hard they worked! Milking cows, sowing crops, reaping crops, and all that. There would be no time for me to comment on a blog post if we worked as hard as those people did!

    We’d also be happier if we partied as hard as they partied. Man!

  62. JACKIE
    October 31, 2013

    I just love this site! Though I just started reading this evening… What I have checked out is very interesting,,,,Thanks for sharing.Peace Out,,,,

  63. Charlotte
    November 18, 2013

    Sure ‘natural’ foods are the best. Meat, bacon, butter, milk, etc etc
    But where can you find (unless you grow it or know a ‘good’ farmer) the natural foods our ancestors ate? Say that bacon is a ‘good’ food. Might once have been, but what/how is used to process/create it now-a-days?

  64. Larisa
    November 19, 2013

    I love this article..and the main concept i took from it was Yes they ate real food, but like EVERY doctor will nag you about exercise, people back then worked, daily, physical work, ie; exercise. That is the lesson here

  65. yzoldowl
    November 19, 2013

    Thing is, our ancestors did not work in offices sitting on their hind ends all day under artificial light. The men worked in the fields and the barns. The women didn’t have the modern luxuries of automatic washers, dishwashers, electric ovens, water heaters and the like. They scrubbed clothing on the washboard, hung it outside to dry in all kinds of weather, took care of the children, weeded the vegetable garden and usually milked the cow. Life was hard in those days but people got by. The children who lived, thrived and grew in the honest environment of their families — and they too worked hard and learned the skills of living at an early age.

  66. libby
    November 19, 2013

    Much agree with the premise. Our ancestors drank RAW milk and food without additives or preservatives. Their food wasn’t processed and if they processed it, they likely processed it themselves. Eating meat and animal products is not unhealthy because meat and animal products are high in cholesterol or saturated fat, but because the animals who gave us these products are fed unnatural diets and live in stress, then need to have antibiotics because their immune systems are compromised, then their food stuffs are further processed to make them safe in our industrialized system because we can’t get the products to people in a short amount of time and/or they are traveling long distances to reach the consumers.

    Long story short- buy from local, organic farmers who don’t pasteurize or process their products. Many dairies in my area are legally allowed to sell their raw milk products in our mom and pops natural foods store if they label it For Pet Consumption Only. Just something to look out for if you are looking for it!

    Happy eating! Check out Nourishing Traditions Cookook!

  67. Myron
    November 19, 2013

    The other factor not mentioned is that they WORKED! Hard physical labor, On a farm, early up & early to bed(most days). And they had fun dancing at their holiday socials. Today, we have machines that do most our labor for us and then pay for membership to a gym. Basically, eat anything you want, just burn it off.

  68. Carol
    November 19, 2013

    This is only HALF of the facts!!

    The fats our ancestors were eating back then actually had Omega 3 in it due to the animals eating a NATURAL diet! All the animals today, including farm raised fish, are no longer healthy sources due to THEIR diets being mostly CORN. Now they have Omega 6’s in their body fat which means in the milk and eggs as well.

    Lets not forget the hard physical labor it took to survive back then. They were in great shape.

  69. Chri
    November 19, 2013

    Night and day difference between food back then and food now a days.

    They didn’t have to worry about all the stuff we have to now because their foods weren’t poisoned and crossbred with different plants. They weren’t using chemically treated and processed crap we have now a days, they didn’t feed their animals all these unnatural foods and forcing them to eat this chemically treated corn. Their animals were allowed to graze and roam on the farm freely not stuffed into a box with no where to go. They didn’t have “fast food” restaurants like we do.

    There are a lot of things that that are completely different compared back then to now. Now we are forced fed poison in our foods. You can thank Monsanto and all these fast food chains that don’t care about anything but a buck and will skim on making foods safe and healthy so they can stretch every last penny they have while taking your money.

  70. Gina-Marie Cheeseman
    November 20, 2013

    Eating in moderation is the key to healthy living. The trans fat that is in meat, dairy and eggs is minimal. However, the trans fat that is in processed foods is considered by some doctors to be the worst kind of fat, as I mention in an article on my website (http://behindcurrentevents.com/archives/415). Clearly, we need to eliminate processed foods from our diet, and swap them for real food.

  71. Vee
    November 20, 2013

    It’s the chemicals in the processed foods and the drugs the doctors think we should take, the sedentary lifestyle, the stress and the pollution tat’s killing most of us today.

  72. Robert
    November 20, 2013

    This is an interesting discussion, and I do NOT wish to “muddy the waters.” (I am afraid I will, anyway, though.)

    An important fact to remember is that, prior to the 20th century, very, very few of the infants born with medical issues/problems survived. Those who were fortunate enough to make it past birth & infancy frequently did NOT live to adulthood. And those with early onset medical problems generally did not thrive . . . this is why Dickens’ story of Tiny Tim in “A Christmas Carol” is seen as both exemplary (“see what can happen, a ‘crippled’ child CAN live into adulthood if supported in childhood!”) AND somewhat miraculous.

    Had my brother, who was a premature baby born in the second half of the 20th century, been born 100 years earlier, he likely would not be around today. Now, my brother is (reasonably) healthy. But many people who survive into adulthood nowadays are NOT so healthy. Those folks wouldn’t have been around skewing the adult illness statistics several generations back. Even 50 years ago, those with cancer (even if “caught” early) frequently just died (cancer was “the Big C,” and was thought of as a — more-or-less — immediate death sentence) because there were NO available interventions. No proven chemo therapies or radiation treatments, and surgeries that were seldom (if ever) successful. Another 50 years before that, diabetes was (similarly) almost impossible to control. It was NOT a manageable chronic condition (I spoke with a woman yesterday who just marked 50 YEARS of living with diabetes!). I don’t think I should have to remind anyone that just 25 years or so ago, HIV infections led (more-or-less immediately) to full-blown AIDS and a very early death.

    My point (if I have one): many of the “chronic” conditions and maladies of contemporary life, issues that we (to some extent, correctly) blame on contemporary life-styles, are chronic simply because we have discovered the means to manage them. I (for one) would NOT want to go back to an earlier era when antibiotics were unknown and folks routinely died from infectious diseases, or heart disease felled millions much, MUCH sooner than it does today. I am not (particularly) a fan of historical religious practices, to be sure, but – given a choice between the religion and the MEDICAL PRACTICE of earlier eras, I have to say, “give me that old-time religion!” I could – I think – survive that. Blood-letting, leeches, no hand-washing (or rubber gloves) and unsterilized instruments used during surgeries . . . I’m not so sure . . .

    • Jim
      November 30, 2013

      they use leeches once in awhile today. I was born in 1944 and was diagnosed with epilepsy when I had a seizure in 1952. My folks were advised to put me in an institution. They said no! I found a neurologist when I was bout 28. Meds have controlled my seizures somewhat until about 10 years ago when new dr prescribed new meds that control seizures so much haven’t had one for years. I don’t like to think what would have happened had I been born late 19th century. I have been a contributing member of society; holding jobs and marrying. I have not been or wanted to be a burden as I learned hard work and respect from my parents who worked the family farm. Learned to love and appreciate animals. they were our assets. I raised chickens, killed them and plucked them. Had large gardens that we – bro, sis and myself – helped with. Mom canned a lot!

  73. Sandra
    November 20, 2013

    I think of this quite frequently. Most of my family (ancestors) grew up on farms. They raised the cattle, pigs, and poultry they consumed. They used the lard to cook with. They lived into their 80’s and 90’s. I feel they also worked and did not sit around allowing fat to just sit in their bodies. They burned it off from morning until night. We need to do more physically with our bodies in order to burn fat, not just try to consume lower fat items.

  74. Lindsay
    November 20, 2013

    I Have a question. Non traditional related. (Not trying to nitpick or be mean) You mentioned under the pictures your gr-gr-gr- great grandmother is Mary Sarah Ann Little. Then from the journal entry from 1901 you stated her name as Martha? Which is it? And so your 4x gr gma was 69 when she gave birth? Mary/Martha isn’t a nickname for either name.

    • DaNelle Wolford
      November 22, 2013

      The journal entry comes from a grandma from my mom’s side. Different person than in the pictures.

  75. Sylvia
    November 20, 2013

    This is great to read! Our life experience also indicates the same. My husband’s grandfather lived to the age of 106. His grandmother on the other side of the family lived to the young age of 108, and they ate all the real whole foods you mention!

  76. Bonnie Wise
    November 20, 2013

    Sounds like my mom. She had 11 children and lived to be 102. She too killed the chickens, fried them or made chicken and dumplings. Used Lard and buttermilk for her biscuits and lard in the cornbread. She lived alone until she was in her 90s, outliving 7 of her 11 children.
    I sure do miss her!

  77. TamiCee
    November 21, 2013

    BUT…they also worked harder back then, on farms, raising cattle and kids, a more difficult life. Working hard never hurt anyone.

  78. Kim
    November 21, 2013

    I believe way back when, that they worked hard and kept the things moving through their bodies. They ate what the good Lord made, unlike us today …….we eat crappy foods and a lot of us, me included, just don’t move like we should. They went from before daylight to after dark and eat the good food. I really believe our society today is lazy to a point, we eat convenience foods and as soon as we get home from our work, we sit down. Now, before anyone blasts me about being lazy, try to understand what I am saying…..it’s all to do with the lifestyles. My grandparents all were on up in years when they passed, my grandmother had a farm and she raised and killed her food and she lived into her late 70’s. We need to get back to real food, eat what The Lord makes, not what man makes.

  79. Jeff
    November 29, 2013

    I want to reply to the article with a question for DaNelle: I have been known to use protein powders, mostly of whey, to supplement my diet, especially when working out and lifting weights a lot. This article says to avoid that? I would really like more information about that because the companies who manufacture it do a good job of selling it’s benefits. I am sure, also, that when I’m working out hard (which includes a lot of resistance training) that I need extra protein in my diet, and I like the idea of getting it without too much fat. Can you point me in the right direction, please?

  80. Jim
    November 30, 2013

    Back then people needed to eat well and a lot since they worked hard and needed it. As for stress. They worried about whether or not they would have enough food to last the winter, enough hay and grain to feed the livestock, enough wood to last the winter,enough money to buy things such as shoes and cloth, sugar, coffee and other things they couldn’t or didn’t grow themselves. Working 12- 14 or more hours a day was no picnic.

  81. Rose Hopkins
    November 30, 2013

    Most of the food they ate was grown in gardens not processed with god knows what these days the put all kind of things in our animals to make the grow and go to market faster. screw around with other food to try to make something different. And yes working from daylight to dark was grueling work but in the end they knew what they had and how to conserve.

  82. jane
    November 30, 2013

    for one thing they worked hard so few were fat… the cattle didnt have all the hormones and drugs in them our meat has today…they were fed good clean food… people didnt know stress like today becasue they were to busy to be stressed… any stressed would have come with times of indian attacks or someone coming to try steal the cattle…but they didnt eat alot of sugar.. cakes were for special times… seldom did you hear of heart attacks…i think the garbage our food is fed today… is why so many have cancer and are so sick with other things..additives to the feed water and such….

  83. Victoria
    November 30, 2013

    This is because the food quality was much different back then. Today, we spray our vegetables, fruits, and lawns with poisons, which is not only toxic to the food itself, but also goes into our ground water. In most cases, the meats have come from factory farms where animals are pumped with all kinds of stuff and also where they live a horrible life of torture before they are sent off to their deaths for us to then ingest. Many people eat “foods” such as fast food and junk foods and the water is contaminated. Sorry to be so morbid, but that is the truth, and also one of the reasons why cancer is so prevalent today. The quality of our air, food, and water is vastly different than it was back then. Eat organic and know where your meat is coming from if you choose to eat it.

  84. Kathleen
    November 30, 2013

    I have heard that the infant death pre-1900 rate also included miscarriages, something that modern data doesn’t reflect. When we see old cemeteries with tons of “baby” headstones, many are from miscarriages as well.

  85. sgt3
    November 30, 2013

    The pharmaceuticals…medications…chemicals are killing us quicker than anything. Just about every living soul over the age of 50 takes ‘meds’ for blood pressure, cholesterol… is using some contraption for sleep apnea… today our stomachs are all ‘bloated’ (I think from artificial foods), My meager Senior income simply does not allow for decent, non-chemical food.

    I’m 78 and do not think I’ll be around that much longer for various reasons… but my heritage is excellent. I attended my great-grandmother’s 103rd birthday party when I was a young child, I remember her high energy level. She danced with me… smoked cigarettes… drank wine. She died at 106 (from smoking? LOL)

    My grandparents were younger. 98 and 99 respectively. My parents even younger. 85 and 75… so I figure I don’t have that much longer…frankly, with the way things are going politically… with this Moose Limb invasion…I’m really glad I’m on my way out!!!

  86. Tammy
    November 30, 2013

    My dad’s uncle Ambrose ate in one meal, a whole chicken, mashed potatoes and grease gravy, a loaf of bread, a dozen eggs, a gallon of milk, and a whole pie. He lived to be 109 years old. now that is one person at one meal. he never had any heart problems he died of old age.

  87. Kate
    November 30, 2013

    My grandmother lived to be 94 and was widowed for her last 20 years or so. From what I remember I am sure she got up and didn’t worry about the condition of her hair or how she was aging…her hair was down to her waist and it went into a low bun. She wore house dresses and aprons…didn’t ponder in front of her closet…they had a nice sized vegetable garden, fruit trees, chickens and a huge freezer full of their food…they had indoor plumbing but also an outdoor pitcher pump and they hauled water outside if they needed it. Her kitchen smelled like soap and cookies. They ate whole foods but worked it off…they took a restorative afternoon nap…my grandfather was a miner which was very unhealthy…but he died of complications from falling off a ladder after fixing his roof….he was 76. They were busy and moved all day and didn’t react constantly to the sound of the cell phone beep reminders, texts and notifications etc. (although my grandma liked to watch wrestling on tv…she was something else!) Bottom line is they ate fresh food and moved all day and drank well water, had a maturing sense of acceptance, said their prayers and did their best, snored like bears at night. We remember them with love and that would have been everything to them and made their life a success. Sounds like nostalgia? Maybe….but it feels nice to remember this and her meals were awesome!! That’s fact.

  88. Steven
    November 30, 2013

    Great article hut remember that the fat from a naturally raised animal is radically different than one raised on an industrial farm with radically different impact on your health.

    My grandpa smoked Marlboros for 77 years and died at 99 lol.

  89. motorcyclartist
    November 30, 2013

    Some on here say we are sicker now because of stress. PLEASE! We’ve always had stress. The reason it BOTHERS us more now is we have become a generation of cry-babies! Nothing is ever supposed to bother us, is it? We are sick because of the greed of mega-corporations (and their back-pocket politicians) which are poisoning our food.

  90. Ruth H
    November 30, 2013

    They ate well, they had a lot of stress, but what they did was constant action. Constantly moving, EXERCISE was the difference. As a diabetic I know that activity makes my blood sugar go down. Exercise keeps a heart in shape, it keeps the muscles firm, and keeps the whole body in better shape. They didn’t have to go to the gym. Household chores gave the women plenty of exercise and they didn’t just do household chores, the did outside chores as well. As for the men, well, life was hard work and more hard work. They often did not live as long as the women and that may well be why.

  91. Clotee Allochuku
    November 30, 2013

    My grandparents lived on a pig farm. They ate pork everyday that they cured themselves. Yet, they both maintained healthy lives.

  92. Gina
    November 30, 2013

    Ginger, I agree with you! Leave poor Anita alone! The government has brain washed all of these people into thinking that their tax money is paying for all the entitlments for low income or poor people, and said government says that we need to stop this wasteful spending on these poor people. Everyone contributes to taxes so if anyone needs some assistance it is available. Have we become so brainwashed that people will let other people starve to death and not recieve health care becasue “I as a tax payer,” are paying for that person. What about the huge salaries of the Government? What about their free healthcare, and they receive these benefits for life and they do not contribute to this Entitlement, and no one says a word about paying for the greedy employees of the government! Wake up people before it is to late to fix! We are all obligated to care and be compasionate to other humans as well as animals.

  93. Betty
    November 30, 2013

    them days there were nothing in their food but all natural stuff these days we have a lot of stuff that doesn’t need to be in our food. that is what makes us sick

  94. Linda
    November 30, 2013

    I am living proof that it works, going back to what my grandparents ate.
    I am 55 and for the first time in 28 years can call myself skinny. I was sick in Feb of 13 which made me lose a few pound but then at that point I cut out all processes foods. When I started reading about what is allowed in the food we eat, it made me sick. And I do not want to talk about fast food places.. I want to be sick as to what they feed us.
    I eat bacon and eggs, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, home made when I can, real mayo on everything, REAL BUTTER, the doctors say they have never seen any one eat the way I do and not have a cholesterol GOOD NOR BAD! If we go back and look at what people ate 100 years go and mimicked them, we would not have the health issues of today. I do not take much in the way of meds, once in awhile I take something for pain because of injurers that I have had. But if you look at my history I heal faster then most people because of my choose of how to eat… Stop letting these people kill us by what they feed us.

  95. Cindy
    November 30, 2013

    Back then they/we had real food and didn’t have to worry about GE/GMO-laden seeds and food, unfortunately we do now. People are getting sick because of it and companies like Monsanto are getting away with it with the law on their. It’s just despicable, especially since these foods/seeds are not allowed in Europe, etc without being labeled as such. Yet we as Americans are not given that right. I want REAL foods that are ensured to be free of GEs and GMOs. Chemical free foods/seeds for everyone and long lives for everybody!!!

  96. Randy
    November 30, 2013

    There are other huge factors, our fields are severely depleted, our water is poisoned (by the state) almost all of the food we eat is exposed to some type of chemicals etc. Trying to eat right these days is nearly impossible. There is little to no chance of us eating like our grandparents did.

  97. John Smith
    December 1, 2013

    I dont think pigs were grown in boxes and fed antibiotics back in the day…

  98. Marguerite
    December 1, 2013

    Yes that’s what they ate, but they also did not spend their days sitting – they worked physically all day long. I had an aunt who lived to 97. She had 20 children, and she was responsible for milking the cows morning and night, and making butter, and making bread, and walking around the village to deliver the cream and milk, and cooking for all that brood because her husband had to go away to work and only came home on weekends. So yes, eat like your ancestors but only if you work physically hard 10+ hours a day

  99. dannyboy61
    December 2, 2013

    I am curious about one thing, where they cigarette smokers? most people in the 1990’s(i stopped checking after) that died at the age of approx. 100 years old WERE smoker(cigarette,cigar,pipe), if i said “were” it’s because most had stopped at there early 90’s years old. If i am saying so, it is because around 2001, i made search for lungs cancer, which were 1 in 10,000 in 1950 with almost 3 time more smokers, plus it they were smoking everywhere, tramways, buses even elevators. And in 2000, they was 9 people out of 10,000 that had lungs cancer but with a much less smokers and no smoking almost anywhere. This schematic was available in most well known health organizations…….and even in some non-smoker website, but when i started to go to some forum regarding those schematic, they slowly disapear for all website, they didn’t realized that they were actually saying that smoking was not responsible for lungs cancer. And for those with a low IQ, that are saying “well those dying today were smokers in the 1950’s and now dying today”…..Duh!! they were also smoking way before that. And as for the 9 out of 10,000, but with the 1950’s technologies, it would be probably 20 out of 10,000. I am no longer a smoker for the past 20 years, but i never believed the government, which knows that if people knew that it was the pollution causing lungs cancer, people would insist on respecting the Kyoto accord, which would be an enormous cost…..for now, but much more in 20 years !!

  100. Sue
    December 2, 2013

    Wonderful story! My own granny was in her 80’s and her mom was 101. They may have eaten lots of fatty foods but that food was worked off. Working in the fields (or for my granny a huge garden). Fried food was the norm here in Indiana, freshly made bread and pies. Canning everything grown. I love graveyards call myself Stonner) and see the ages and have never understood why people thought everyone died so young. Yes there was death of the young but there was also old old age.

  101. Ihatestupidppl
    December 3, 2013

    Last week I wrote a page long letter to the FDA about this very thing. My ancestors (my mom died at almost 90) lived to be ripe, old ages. Not because of what they ate, but because of how much they ate of it. I was taught to fry eggs and potatoes in bacon grease. We ate meat and fried food….chicken, pork-chops, sausage. We ate real butter, milk and cream and lots of rich desserts. We didn’t have health problems because we ate nothing that had been treated with chemicals, dyes, pesticides or preservatives. The majority of our fruits, veggies and herbs came right from our gardens and trees. We got dairy products and meat from local farms. We made our own jellies & jams, applesauce and horseradish, and canned (jarred) or froze enough food to fill two giant chest freezers and the root cellar every season. We baked our own breads and desserts. We made root-beer. We even made our own soap, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, dish & laundry detergent. We weren’t farmers. It’s just how we lived. The only store bought food I remember was cold cereal – corn flakes and Cheerios, a few seasonings and baking ingredients, and coffee & tea. We bought rice, grains, flour & sugar in bulk from the Amish. We rarely ate out. When we did it was either a formal dinner or at an Amish or Mennonite restaurant. (Only a few fast-food & restaurant chains were around.) I am so fortunate to have been raised around church ladies and good ole country cooks.

    • DaNelle Wolford
      December 4, 2013

      Sounds like a great life full of great food!

  102. Mark N. Silber
    December 5, 2013

    Yes and no. It is true that infant death skewed the statistics of life expectancy numbers of the pre-20th Century world, but nowadays researchers take that into consideration. If you were an American living in the Victorian era, you didn’t have to worry about dying at 45, assuming you survived infancy you could expect to be around to 65 or 68. Back then a lot of adults would start dying in their late 50’s and 60’s because common things as diabetes, heart disease, blood pressure were not treatable. I’ve studied this by researching grave monuments in Victorian cemeteries in my city. Both my father’s parents (born in 1885 and 1891) died at age 58 and 54 respectively. One thing is clear: if you were wealthy and had access to the best doctors chances are you would live longer.

    • Elizabeth
      December 10, 2013

      I beg to differ. My ancestors on both sides of my family lived to be in their 80’s and some into their 90’s. They were farmers & one great grandpa worked for the railroad in New Orleans. A lot has to do with genetics.

  103. Laura
    December 9, 2013

    I do really like this philosophy, however I have an ethical dilemma with it. I was buying raw milk for a while but I have an issue with the fact that calves are taken from their mothers at birth in order to provide milk for us. I could have my own cow and milk it myself, sure, but when it comes to taking calves from their mothers.. I’m not okay with that. I wish that I could get past this but I cannot!

    • Elizabeth
      December 10, 2013

      They are not taken right away. The calf will die if it is take from it’s mother to soon & not allowed to be weaned properly. An ethical organic dairy farmer will not do that. So, if you are going to purchase raw dairy products, it would behoove you to thourhly research the dairy & the practices.

    • Larry
      January 5, 2014

      You keep the calf in over night to have the milk yourself the next morning, because a good cow gives more than the calf needs, and being with the cow all day should be plenty.

      • DaNelle Wolford
        January 15, 2014

        Yep!

  104. Marilynne Adams
    December 10, 2013

    Well. Why did she procrastinate and leave all those buttonholes and buttons for the last minute?

    • DaNelle Wolford
      December 20, 2013

      Haha!

    • DaNelle Wolford
      January 4, 2014

      HAHAHA, I thought the same thing!

  105. robert notaro
    December 17, 2013

    My grandmother lived in W.Va. on a 200 acre farm (dairy) had 12 children and lived to 105 & also took care of me for the first 5 yrs. so I guess she had 12!/2 kids.

  106. Mrs R
    December 18, 2013

    One thing to take into account is the amount of physical labor they did, while eating that type of natural diet. Today, we eat horrible imposter foods and spend 2/3 or more of our day sedentary. An 88 year old woman from 1900 would work any of us into the ground and kick up her heels at the barn dance later! lol

  107. Ruth Nederlk
    December 18, 2013

    Love this site. This article is so true. A lot of Dr. say eat this and that and we had the best milk cheese and vegetables with no addtives. All fresh and homemade. Still after all this so many have terrible painfull bones. We walked miles and exercised. Had no one transporting us everywhere. Had no cars. Had not Dr. except family who used heir cures that had been around for years. Years I believe the article on comparing ages then and now. Did physical hard work and thought nothing of it. . That was the way it was. So the medical field may have some good cures for infections .But the rest of their medicine is all guess work. Most don’t work. Yes we all did very very hard work. Today they don’t know what that is.

  108. Dale
    December 18, 2013

    My wife’s paternal grandma lived just shy of 105 years old. She lived independently at home till the quiet end. She grew up and lived on a dairy farm. Heavy cream on cereal and for baking. Lots of beef and pork along with wild game.
    Her maternal grandpa lived much the same way and lived to 104.
    My dad, still living is 84, his dad died at 81, dads grandfather died at 81, dads great grandfather died at 81. Dads brother and sister died at 81.
    Statistically, my wife will be a widow for 23.5 years or so – except she is fighting cancer at the moment.

    • the mean mama
      December 18, 2013

      We have several members of our small community fighting cancer. It’s a brutal battle. Prayers that your dear wife may come out victor.

  109. the mean mama
    December 18, 2013

    I love this article!! In college my roomies were ALWAYS

    • the mean mama
      December 18, 2013

      (sorry, baby hit enter) to finish… were Always on some fad diet. I about died when they came home with pancake mix, reduced sugar syrup, and low fat margarine (among other similar products). I finally opened my big mouth and kindly let them know that moderation of real foods are much healthier than their low fat/low sugar/chemically enhanced processed versions. I actually had to pull up articles before they believed me.

      Now if we could just get cities to be more lenient on raising our own foods. Certainly my quarter acre lot is large enough for a dairy goat!! They are smaller than many dogs. Wouldn’t that be lovely. To have not only eggs in the backyard but milk as well?

  110. Vicky
    December 18, 2013

    I loved the old years my grandmother canned everything from fruit to meat.I remember her canning bear meat one year.I learned so much and now as live has become I can use her ways to survive healthier .If only the children of today could have experienced that way of life.Amen to our ancestor .I learned from an dear aunt Jess to sew & bake no patterns or recipe just do it she would say and you did somehow .You found a way to fix and work through what ever ~I miss those days .

  111. MaryAnn Gerhart
    December 18, 2013

    Yes, my grandparents and great-grandparents, etc. all ate this way. But they did not eat the portion sizes that we do these days. They also exercised a whole lot more than we do. They had no modern conveniences or desk jobs. They worked from sun up to sun down and their bodies were able to process all the fat. I dont recommend that we eat the way they did. We should eat as naturally as possible but I cant be convinced that the lard and cream are healthy for us except in small amounts.

  112. john vitela
    December 18, 2013

    I LOVE IT THAT I HAVE FOUND A SITE SUCH AS THIS THAT BELIEVES THE WAY MY FATHER AND HIS FATHERS FATHER BELIEVED. I KNOW THAT I WOULD LIVE MUCH LONGER AND IN BETTER HEALTH EATING INSECTS, AND GRASSHOPPERS THAN EATING THE GARBAGE YOU BUY AT THE STORE APPROVED BY THE FDA.I DON’T MEAN TO SOUND NEGATIVE BUT AM FED UP WITH THE SYSTEM.

  113. Peggy Tiner
    December 18, 2013

    My grandmother cooked chicken the same way. She made biscuits using lard and buttermilk. The lard was bought (also hams and bacon sides) for the smokehouse, and the buttermilk was a by-product of the butter Grandma churned. We had ham or bacon and fresh-laid eggs for breakfast most mornings and for dinner (noon) we had vegetables from the garden or home-canned and fried chicken or other meat. The late afternoon meal was usually leftovers from dinner or soup. But everyone worked. Grandma washed, ironed, cooked, cleaned, preserved, and patched. I never saw her sitting down during the day unless she was working with her hands, at night it would be reading the bible. I was a very little girl then, but I remember the food, and the way of life.

  114. Allison
    December 18, 2013

    And when people were overweight they didn’t care because it was just the way it was! Not much body image issues in those times. Not a lot were obese though because of all the activity, exercise, and fresh air they got because they HAD to do it to live and survive…

  115. Chris
    December 18, 2013

    Bacon, lard, and whole milk… and huge amounts of salt, another modern no-no that didn’t hurt in traditional diets for hundreds of years. People typically preserved their foods in brine and huge amounts of salt before refrigerating mechanical systems became available. Fermentation was another critically important food preservation method that has virtually disappeared from our modern diets, yet provided critically important enzymes that contributed to disease-proofing and overall health. Omega 3 fatty acids were prevalent in traditional diets as well through free-ranging poultry eggs and meats. And back to whole milk: it was raw, living, unadulterated pure whole milk that was not destroyed by homogenization and pasteurization. Our modern diets have been stripped of vital enzymes, minerals, and vitamins *on purpose* in the name of “food safety” that’s in fact killing us all! Great article, although I don’t think it went far enough to spell out all the dramatic differences on what has sustained humankind for thousands of years and what people can buy in grocery stores today.

  116. Kathy Ruder
    December 19, 2013

    I can think of several big differences between the days of our grandparents and great grandparents (I’m 52, by the way). Yes, they worked a lot harder for what they had. But they also had a whole lot LESS to maintain. Think about it. One (unless one was wealthy and could hire someone or purchase ready-made) had to make everything they had. Clothing. Food. Even tools and their house. To be sure they didn’t have tons of stuff cluttering up their lives to maintain and care for. They were limited to what they needed and could handle. This also applies to food…I don’t think they ate as much as we do now, by comparison. Meat was a precious commodity (thinking of the saying Chicken every Sunday….that was a big deal). They also used ALL of the animal…the bones for broth, the hides for clothing and other goods, ate the internals. I think of an article I read on how bone broth sustained people during times when food was scarce. We also did pickling (REAL pickling, which was a form of fermentation, not just sticking something in vinegar). Our vinegars had life in them…they were not pasteurized to kill all the germs and then strained to get the culture out of them. We were eating LIVE food. We were getting the dirt and sand from the soils into our systems (I know that sounds almost ridiculous, but there’s evidence that our diets are deficient in silica and other minerals found in soil). By proportion, people ate more vegetables, grain and fruits. Animal protein was stretched by making soups and stews. I’ve started doing that and it’s amazing how much broth comes out of it and how far it stretches. In general, people preserved their own food, using much more natural methods than used now (chemical preservation and additives). The old timers were much more self-reliant and in turn, had much more pride and feelings of self-esteem. Granted, life was hard and stressful. One depended on the land and the weather and lived much closer to and were impacted more by nature. Then again, they also knew to expect this and learned to “put food by”….preserving for the lean times. And since the food was REAL and alive….they could survive quite nicely on less of it.

    If our ancestors would come to our time and see the amount of food that is there, the amount of food that is thrown away, the amount of food wasted….they would probably not believe it. With the introduction of the factory farm, food could be processed much faster (everything is geared to fast profit). Forget grazing cattle on grass which takes up to a year and a half to be ready for market. Feed them grain (which is NOT natural food for cattle and messes them up royally). The farmer couldn’t keep up with the expected level we consumers are used to. We are surrounded by food. By food commercials. By restaurants. If our ancestors wanted a pie, cake or bread, chances are they had to make their own…which takes time. I don’t think they would relish baking to meet the amount we consume now in our “instant” society. There was no mindless snacking then in front of the TV. Chances are there was no mindless snacking at all. Food and its sources were valued, cherished and protected. People were a whole lot less wasteful.

    Another thing that’s a big difference is they did not have the MEDIA. Think about how much stress that alone generates…not only in the advertising, but hearing in an instant, all the bad that is happening all over the globe. Before globalization, people didn’t hear about everyone else’s goings-on. They were limited to their own little corner of the world, which is more than enough for a human to handle.

    As has been pointed out in earlier posts, they also had real communities, and family more often than not stayed close to each other. They looked out for each other.

    I’ve looked at my own family tree and the graves of ancestors. Some died in infancy. Some in their teens and twenties and I wonder why. Many made it into their 70’s and 80’s. I believe a lot of longevity has to do with genetics (postulated in the books by Dr Peter D’Adamo http://dadamo.com). I think everything we have all discussed…genetics, pollution, processed foods vs. real foods,…they all are part of the equation…none are a cure all to end all. Certainly, eating live foods from organic sources (or making/growing our own) and avoiding all the commercially processed foods will go a long way in keeping us healthy and free of a lot of the diseases that plague our modern society.

  117. Tony
    December 19, 2013

    This is an interesting thesis, but is certainly not a scientific argument. I know one man, now in his 70s, whose male ancestors as far back as he could trace all died before they were 55. One could argue that SOMETHING in modern life is treating him better than his ancestors. It’s purely anecdotal in that case as well, though. If you go back before the industrial revolution, record keeping was quite spotty. None of this can be construed as a dismissal of the benefits of a simple organic diet, it just doesn’t prove anything either.

  118. Grace
    December 19, 2013

    The foods that are killing us are the ones with all the fillers. They make a cheap product, with all kinds of chemicals to make more it to sell at a cheap price. Our body’s were not created to handle all those chemicals. I am sure lard back then has less ingredients than today!

  119. Chris
    December 19, 2013

    The daily chores they did back then burned off much more calories than doing the same things today – washing, drying and ironing clothes, washing and drying dishes, having no indoor plumbing involved walking outside to the outhouse several times a day and carrying water, preparing meals was more labor intense, stoking fires for heating and cooking, cleaning the house (no nifty vacuums and swiffer sweepers back in the day), all these and more involved much more physical labor burning off many more calories, There were no cars, so people walked a lot more into town if they live close by, or had a horse and buggy, which also involved more physical labor than anyone has to do today.

  120. Vickilynn Haycraft
    December 19, 2013

    Whole *real* foods are of course better than processed ones, but my ancestors never ate bacon or lard or any pork products. They ate Kosher foods, full-fat, unprocessed and real foods. My grandma lived to 105 and never touched a pork product in her life. So, it’s not the pork, it’s the real, whole foods and, including good fat and excluding processed,GMO and chemical-laden fake “food.”

    One can appreciate a more traditional, real food diet and not consume pork.

  121. Nate Baxley
    December 19, 2013

    A great article. One quibble I have is that you mention the decrease of infant and childbirth deaths and those from accidents and infections and the rise of cancer and heart disease and say this points to problems in our diet. The decrease of one death cause and the rise of another are not related. Just because the percentage of people dying during childbirth is down, SOME other cause has to rise to the top. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there are MORE of the new top killer. There will always be a top killer, thankfully the number of people dying early has gone done over the past 100 years (which was your first point) diet has nothing to do with a decrease in early deaths.

  122. John M. Harris
    December 22, 2013
  123. Nancy V. Metz
    December 23, 2013

    I’d go back. Remove the genentically modified and unreadable ingredients and cook what I grow naturally. Yes, that is the way it should be.

  124. Alisa
    December 27, 2013

    When you mentioned what foods to eat, you just wrote “…grains…” and not WHOLE grains. Our ancestors ate WHOLE grains. And they were able to consume all of those calories from whole milk and bacon and lard because they worked their butts off all day long! They burned way more calories then we do today. Americans are so incredibly sedentary today. That’s why we have so many people with type 2 diabetes and hypertension and coronary artery disease. If we burned 4000 calories today we too would be able to consume all of those calories and not get fat and therefore not get those diseases. Because you failed to mention this this article means nothing and shows how ignorant you really are. Also I have learned recently that quite a few Native American people and descendants of them cannot tolerate cow’s (including allergies AND lactose intolerance) and if/when they consume any cow’s milk product it is very detrimental to them(especially if they are allergic to it). Anyways, nice try though!

  125. tracy wareham
    December 30, 2013

    My grannie was born and raised in the hills of kentuckey, she ate lard,and fat back , smoked pork hocks. She passed away four days after her 99th birthday.

  126. Christina skinner
    February 5, 2014

    My great grandmother who I remember well was half American Indian and lived up in the hills without running water or electricity. She had a small farm and slaughtered her own animals for food and grew her own fruits and vegetables. She had 9 children and one of them she went into labor with while harvesting her fruit trees. After she had the baby the next day she was out finishing her harvest and canning them. Amazing! The day she died in her late 70s she was out tilling her garden. She went in to take a nap and never woke up. She worked hard her whole life and even smoked her hand rolled cigarettes like a chimney. Such a tough lady.

    • DaNelle Wolford
      February 10, 2014

      Wow, I love stories like this!

  127. Andrew
    February 9, 2014

    Very enlightening article. I had never considered that the infant mortality rate skewed life expectancy statistics so much. Thanks.

  128. Linda
    March 16, 2014

    An old woman died a few years back at my apartment complex .Apparently she died without anyone who valued her because ALL of her possessions were thrown in the dumpster after her passing. I took out the trash and right on top was a large sheaf of letters all in chronological order. These letters start in 1942, ended in 1945 or 1946 and were written to the woman that died by her younger sister. Also there were letters to the mother of the young women and letters from the Mom to the woman that died written when she would stay and help out ate younger sister. The paper was folded in quarters so you could write small on all 4 sides to save on paper. Paper cost money. I have since tried to find the womans relatives. I was unable to do that so I contacted the historical society and they did not want them. It is such a shame because this is a vivid and accurate account of how middle America farmers and people in small towns lived back then, Believe me they endured stress. The younger sister was very young, little more than a teenager. She had an appendectomy that the new town doctor was giving to everyone in town. It seems she never really healed up from that operation and then she got pregnant. She did not wish to tell anyone until she was fairly far along in her pregnancy because women had so many miscarriages. She was forced into total bed rest about a month before her baby was born so her Mom having no real home of her own left where she was and came to help out. During the 10 days that she was in the hospital after the birth of their first child her husband bought a refrigerator that his mother was selling because she had just lost her restaurant. The refrigerator ran on coal. When the mom and husband came to get her from the hospital they ended up stuck in town because their car broke down. By the time they got back to the farm the refrigerator had stopped working after blowing coal dust all over the walls, rugs and white curtains that had to be washed by hand and all of the food in it was stinking rotten. There is way to much information about how this young woman and the members of her community lived to relate here. Suffice it to say these peoples lives were incredibly hard. The husband tried farming , he tried raising cattle, when he was finally able to afford a pickup truck he kept making trips to Colorado to chop fire wood and bring it back to sell. Despite this couples best efforts they lost the farm. At the end this young woman had a cat that she loved and she was constantly trying to justify feeding it even the table scraps. After the loss of the farm the husband found work in Texas and it sounds like he had started drinking heavily and perhaps fooling around with other women. The young woman and her small son had to beg a church member that they did not like very well for a place to stay in their basement. The letters end with her being heartbroken, sick in spirit, very ill and once again pregnant. I think she died at the very young age of 23 years old. These people did not relieve their stress by milking the cow and scrubbing out the laundry on a washboard. That idea is just plain silly. It might act as a way for us to relieve stress today but back then these things were just one more hard thing that had to be done if your family was going to have clean clothes to wear or food to eat. It did not matter how sick you were or how tired. These people lived with as much or more stress than we do.

  129. Nerissa
    March 31, 2014

    Love this post as this is something I’ve been reading and researching on for years now, that eating a real food-based, balanced diet and not demonizing various real foods only to replace them with overly processed, “fake” foods, is a much healthier and more enjoyable way to live and eat. Both sets of my grandparents all lived into their 90’s, ate very little processed food, cooked from scratch and ate in the majority of the time. They ate meat, eggs, used butter, ate full-fat foods and drank alcohol in moderation. I’ve also researched my family tree and found the same results you did DaNelle, with many of my ancestors living into their 70’s, 80’s and even to 100 years of age, dating back as far as the late 1500’s. The ones who died younger were due to unnatural causes, or child-birth or diseases such as the flu pandemic.
    As a personal chef and culinary instructor my whole passion and focus is to inspire and teach people that cooking from scratch, using real foods is not only so much better for you but is enjoyable, rewarding, doesn’t have to take tons of your time and tastes delicious!

    Love your website and your story! The more of us out there spreading this message, the more the public becomes aware and starts to make changes in their own cooking and eating habits, then the more the food producers are forced to change their ways and products to suit consumer demands.

  130. Maureen
    April 14, 2014

    Hi – my great grandmother lived until she was 93. Her daughter died at 78, my mother was 74 and I am at present 66. I see a decline in the length of lives – can that be due to the advent of a) motor vehicles, b) preservatives in food etc and c) the lack of physical work! I am trying very hard to aspire to the self-sufficiency life and try very hard not to use processed food at all. It is not easy!

  131. The Crunchy Urbanite
    April 21, 2014

    This is fantastic. Thank you. I’ve always said: keep it real, but keep it sensible. And most importantly, listen to your body: it’ll tell you the difference between a craving and a requirement, and when bandwagon-healthy is or isn’t personally-healthy. Great article. :)

  132. Jodi
    April 29, 2014

    And to boot–the QUALITY of their lives was likely much better until their deaths. The numbers we tout as long life are prolonged illness-based in many cases. :-(

  133. jt
    May 8, 2014

    I think this really needs to get out more!! They grew the food baked the food killed the chickens they raised. Which all means no pesticides other than natural ways, put their fresh ingredients into what they cooked not processed with stuff God doesn’t even know what it is. And their chickens weren’t full of hormones. I have been taking back control of my family and now take the time to bake my own breads and homemade pastas. I throw a little bacon grease into the mix too! And we started gardening. Time to take it back is so right!

  134. John
    May 15, 2014

    Very interesting post.. With all the junk we are fed these days its any wonder we are living as long as we are. For a long time now I have been changing what I eat and exercising at the same time. Today we spend way to much time in front of the tele and on the pc.. Its funny in Australia they are now trying to raise the pension age because apparently we are living longer, you just disproved that concept, we actually are not living longer but too many of us are now surviving childhood…

  135. jess
    May 26, 2014

    AWESOME. Page!

  136. Chris Rutledge
    June 4, 2014

    Howdy! I’m really interested in learning more about the journal entry from 1901. There are only four pages of results in Google, with the majority being Facebook and Pinterest posts and a few blog posts. Interestingly, this blog post on this website (weedemandreap.com) is the linkback given when references are cited, and it is also the earliest reference to this journal entry that I can find.

    Might this be from a book or personal relative or some other source not indexed by Google?

    (I wanted to be clear that I’m not doing this with the intention of disproving or proving anything. I love facts, and metadata about those facts. If I can’t find them, I look for them, and snopes.com and straightdope.com are my constant companions.)

    Thanks for any insight or direction you can provide! Also, thank you for the information on lard. I’ve been trying to get the lowdown on saturated fats and the respective virtues and uses of lard vs butter, coconut oil, EVOO, etc. This post has been helpful in providing historical context.

    Have a grand day.

    • DaNelle Wolford
      June 8, 2014

      Hi Chris,

      It’s a journal entry from my great-great-great grandmother Martha Lindsey. I’m pretty sure it’s the first time it’s been on the internet.

  137. LAC
    July 17, 2014

    So so true! My grandmother lived on a farm and ate lard, whole raw milk, and eggs straight out of the chickens butt! She ate real butter and plenty of it! She died in 2006 at the ripe age of 100!

  138. Mindie
    August 26, 2014

    So true! Real food is good! What’s changed besides the food in the last 100+ years? Our sedentary lifestyle. They didn’t sit and watch TV, play video games or go to the drive thru. They worked, and moved all day! Or they didn’t eat! Our poor lifestyle choices and lack of physical movement are just as harmful as processed foods!

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  140. moonlake
    September 8, 2014

    My grandmother lived to be 100. She ate bacon grease sandwiches and she had biscuits, gravy and sausage every morning. She always got up at 5 and went all day I never saw her take a nap.
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  142. Robert
    October 1, 2014

    The idea of either health or sickness being primarily dependent on the presence or absence of matter is clearly overly simplistic. Infect 100 people with the influenza virus and only 10-15 of them will actually become ill. The materialistic assumption that our health mainly depends on exercise or on what we eat or avoid has been proven to be wrong. Ellen Langer has conducted all kinds of experiments with elderly people who were instructed to imagine that they were living in the 1950’s again, being surrounded by all kinds of artifacts from that era. After a few weeks they all started to feel more alive and energetic, they stood taller and it was also possible to actually measure the symptoms of becoming younger again (joints started working better again; eyesight improved, etc.) . Simply because of the power of convictions and imagination.

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