Animal keeping and the use of animal products in medieval Emden (Lower Saxony, Germany)
Grimm, Jessica Marije
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, 15 april (2010)
The present study has only been concerned with the animal bones excavated from Emden. But what about the human consumers? Historical evidence for later medieval England indicates that the diet was mainly based on cereals, especially wheat, with varying amounts of meat and fish depending on social status. People mainly ate beef, followed by pork, mutton and poultry. Milk products and eggs were also consumed. Wild birds were less consumed, but had an important function in the definition of status. Fasting days dictated by the church included every Friday, Saturday and often Wednesday as well as during Lent and Advent, making up nearly half of the year.
The poorer people could probably afford lower quality meat every now and then, but relied mainly on milk, cheese and eggs as animal protein sources. Meat became cheaper and thus more widely consumed by the end of the 14th century. Salted herring and mollusc species were also relatively cheap. Although differences in diet between town and country were subtle, the town diet seems to have been more varied as fresh foods were more readily available from the markets