Yes, I know we're closer to Advent than Lent if you look at the Christian liturgical calendar.
As you may have already picked up, I'm a moderate Doomer. I think that our society is facing problems (mostly End of Oil and Climate Change) that we are not at all facing, and that are making our shaky economy fail. Because of this I see 'getting by' as getting harder and harder in the future. I'm not saying that civilization itself is going to fail. But it will change. And there will be very Hungry Times. The human population will be reduced to what the earth can really support without the help of fossil and nuclear fuels.
It won't be pretty.
I'm learning skills to help me thru' the change. And .... looking at the past for lessons for today.
So, this afternoon I was planting onion sets, to provide a bit of fresh green onions for winter. Which got me to thinking about winters without fresh veggies, and the impact on the body. Especially the impact of folic acid deficiency and birth defects, when it hit me. Lent!
Traditionally during Lent meat was off the menu - it was likely to have run out by then anyway. And the grain might have been running out. And your body was low on folic acid from the winter as it was. Getting pregnant at that time would have led to lots of birth defects in the spina bifida range.
So what did European tradition call for? Lent. Forty days or so of not just no meat, but no sex. Which was the best way to prevent pregnancy at the time. Not eating meat, and it being the hungry time of year, the menu would have relied on any early greens you could find. Yes, Hunger Games lovers, that includes dandelions. But also lovely early peas (and pea shoots), mustard greens, collards might be coming up again, spinach, lettuce - all those early crops. What do all those early crops have in common? High levels of folic acid. And great levels of beta carotene/vitamin A as well, another important thing in early pregnancy.
So by the time sex was allowed again after Easter, women's bodies were up to healthy levels of important vitamins. The risk of conceiving a child with birth defects was lower.
Pregnancy isn't an issue for me anymore, but vitamin deficiency could well be during the Hungry Times. Sprouts will help this type of thing.