4 Feb 2011
When reading the article Pompeii skeletons reveal secrets of Roman family life on the BBC website and the part about the diet of the poor, we're told that the diet may not have been so impoverished as one might assume. This reminds me a lot of the theory of the original affluent society.
Despite some criticisms against the idea of a relatively more leisurely ancient lifestyle in comparison to our hectic modern environment, one can hardly pretend that the excessive modern urbanization that we now have hasn't led to a large segment of our population being all too dependent on other entities to handle food gathering and production, sometimes to the point of crippling dependence. Afterall, how many of us city-folk pick our own berries, fish our own trout or grow our own radishes? Most have lost this ancient knowledge.
We most often go to grocery stores and buy the items we need. Yet we can't do this without first earning monetary tokens from someone else. We therefore struggle in dead-end, highly demanding, even mentally or physically toxic jobs just to acquire the means to obtain food and shelter. Our complete inter-reliance on apathetic strangers through a multi-layered economic system for even the most basic necessities is somewhat unique to modernity. And it's precisely our lack of personal autonomy in so many ways that makes us, in a manner of speaking, "less wealthy" than even our Roman antecedents.
We shouldn't feign too much shock at the notion that the poor in ancient times may have had a healthier diet than what we're capable of or are willing to supply our most vulnerable population despite all our showy technology and superficial symbols.