Mar 8, 2010

The Original Hunza Summer Diet.


The Original Hunza Summer Diet.

The British General and soldiers arrived in the summer during the 1870s as did everyone who traveling to Hunza. This was the harvest season for the grains, fruits, and vegetables from the gardens, and much of the food was consumed raw. Because fuel for cooking was saved to be used in winter for boiling meat and providing some heat for the stone dwellings, very little meat was consumed in summer, and vegetables were eaten raw.

Curious visitors who followed the British soldiers to Hunza Valley years later naturally arrived in summer also, and the summer diet of the people led visitors to assume they were mainly vegetarian and ate very little meat. This was typical of the summer harvest season. Many primitive cultures including cavemen lived in a similar manner, gorging themselves on available fruit during the short season and eating mostly meat for the rest of the year. The people of Hunza differed in that they never had an abundance of anything except rocks. They did not have enough animals to provide abundant meat during the winter because of the lack of fodder. They did not want to kill female animals that were milk producers unless the animal was old or lame.

The Hunzakuts are said to have cultivated plants included barley, millet, wheat, buckwheat, turnips, carrots, dried beans, peas, pumpkins, melons, onions, garlic, cabbage, cauliflower, apricots, mulberries, walnuts, almonds, apples, plums, peaches, cherries, pears, and pomegranates. John Clark did not find green beans, wax beans, beets, endive, lettuce, radishes, turnips, spinach, yellow pear tomatoes, Brussel sprouts, or parsley. Cherry tomatoes and potatoes are thought to have been brought in by the British. The long list of currently grown plant varieties should not be a consideration when discussing the longevity of the Hunzakuts and their past diet.

Apricot trees were very popular, and the fruit was eaten raw in season and sun dried for winter. The pits were cracked to obtain the kernel that was crushed to obtain the oil for cooking and lamps. The hard shell was kept for a fire fuel. The kernel and oil could be eaten from the variety of apricots with a sweet kernel, but the bitter kernel variety had an oil containing poisonous prussic acid. Click the picture to see an enlargement.

The apricot trees were allowed to grow very large in order to obtain the maximum yield. Picking the maximum amount of fruit was more important than the difficulty in picking. The children would scamper to the higher branches to pick or shake off the fruit. Planting new trees required several years of growth before any fruit was produced. The special garden silt or glacial milk did not contribute to the age or size of the trees as is commonly claimed. Our modern orchards are not managed that way because we have abundant space and picking is expensive. Our trees are cut when the size makes them difficult to harvest, not because they fail to live as long as those in Hunza.

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