Food for Thought TH 2021 Ep 15

Season 2021 – Talk 15 – Food for Thought

In  Food for Thought Andrew Cole tells us about diet through the ages and dispels many myths.

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Medieval times:

Many believe that the peasant population has a poor diet at this time. Andrew agrees that the diet may have been boring but argues that people had enough to eat.

At this time many poor people keep pigs which can live in a forest and can look after themselves. Agricultural peasants tend to keep cows, so have dairy produce such as buttermilk, cheese, or curds and whey in their diet.

People of all types eat pottage, a thick soup with meat, vegetables, or bran.   Bread is a staple for all classes, although the quality and price varies depending on the type of grain.

The wealthy eat far better as their estates provide freshly killed meat, river fish, fresh fruit and vegetables. Although for many centuries people believe that fruit and vegetables need to be cooked.

Tudor times:

Cooked vegetables are often onions and cabbage, but in the late Tudor period, new foods from the Americas start to be eaten. These include tomatoes, potatoes and peppers.

The poor eat whatever meat they can find. Rabbits, ‘game’ birds, chicken and fish, whilst the rich eat more costly varieties of meat. Herbs are grown to flavour dishes.

All classes eat bread as their main source carbohydrates.  The quality varies, the cheapest is a mixture of rye and wheat. The middle classes eat wholemeal  whilst the wealthy eat bread made of white wheat flour.


Pies are popular through the ages, they are convenient and can be eaten without plates and cutlery. They often contain good nutrition and are an early convenience food.

Listen to the podcast and hear Andrew tell the full story with thoughts about some of today’s supposedly healthy diets..

Please note:

This podcast is a recording of a talk given in the Farnham Maltings during Covid restrictions. These required open windows and doors and so there is some noise on the recording from other activities.

About this podcast:

This podcast is an edited recording of a talk first given to the Farnham u3a World History Group.

The Farnham u3a site is here.

You can also listen using Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Castbox , Deezer, Podchaser, Spotify, Stitcher and Vurbl and others.

AKM Music licenses Media Magazine for use as the theme music.

© The MrT Podcast Studio and Farnham u3a World History Group 2018 – 2022

Author: Tim D

In the early 1970s Mr Timothy & his Phonograph was a popular mobile disco around Leeds University and Tim was known as MrT. Tim also spent 9 years broadcasting a weekly programme on Hospital Radio in Wakefield. He worked for more than 40 years for large industrial organisations and spent his last 15 years in global commercial management roles. Following retirement he started making podcasts in 2017.