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Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 66-06, Section: A, page: 2345.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Toronto, 2005.
Agrarian and urban historians have focused on the grain supply of medieval Europe, while vegetables and fruit have been almost ignored. This lack of study has resulted in a distorted view of the medieval diet and therefore the medieval standard of living. The thesis discusses the evidence for production, sale and consumption of garden produce in Ghent and Lubeck, drawing on both documentary and archaeological sources. Evidence from both cities shows that fruit and vegetables were an important and usual part of the diet; this finding contrasts with the traditional view. The thesis also examines how the study of garden produce can influence the perception of the urban-rural relationship in medieval Europe.The situation was somewhat different for medieval Ghent. By the middle of the fourteenth century the population of Ghent had reached 50,000 and it may thus be counted as one of the larger cities in Europe. Lease contracts, records of sale and of tithe show that a range of vegetables, fruit, dye plants and the cash crop of flax for Ghent's growing linen industry were produced from between 12 and 45 kilometres from the city and were sold in its marketplace. There is no evidence of the relatively large scale of suburban gardens such as we see in Lubeck. This research suggests that a larger city such a Ghent was supplied from a hinterland further removed from the city, and that as the city grew, land close to walls was used for housing rather than for food production.The thesis reveals differences in food production and sale, but similarities in patterns of consumption. The population of Lubeck was about 25, 000 in 1400. Lubeck's rent and tithe records showed the presence of small gardens just outside the city walls. These suburban gardens produced fruit, vegetables, and the cash crop of hops. There is little evidence concerning the sale of produce before the seventeenth century. Archaeological plant remains demonstrate that the denizens of Lubeck from a range of social strata consumed a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, both wild and cultivated.