Carbohydrate in the earlier Scots diet 

Or, where they got their energy from.

This extract is from Ch 5 – Food on the Table

It is a sample from one point in Scots food history.   The symbolic porridge is included with its defence in that respect. What symbolic Welsh dishes are there? Porridge is easier to compare with the answers compared with haggis.

The potato sample follows.


­page 56 >>


(circa 1800)


Estimated amounts of basic foods


                                    Potatoes      …      …      20 oz

                                    Oatmeal       …      …      8 oz

                                    Kail      …      …      …    4 oz

                                    Turnips         …      …     2 oz

                                    Barley …      …      …     1 oz

                                    Butter …      …      …      1 oz

                                    Cheese        …      …        1 oz

                                    Milk      …      …      …    1 pt

                                    Ale      …      …      …      1 pt”47



The caloric intake from oatmeal is almost double that obtained from potatoes and while about two thirds of the available protein (74 grams) is obtained from cereal and vegetables (47 grams) oatmeal would have contributed about half.


Relevant to later in the same century there is a comment on the diet in general: “… there was a basic uniformity of diet throughout, and oatmeal was said in 1869 to have formed ‘the leading article of daily subsistence amongst 90 per cent of the labouring classes of Scotland.”48 It may be, however, that there was no particular concern about such a predominance of oatmeal. Sir Henry Thompson, writing in 1891, held that such cereals contain “all the elements necessary to life and being therefore the most largely consumed.”49