A really special day!

For our new research on pulses in relation to vital health and longevity I was blessed to meet 106-year old Mariano Norata and spent a 2 hour conversation with Mariano about lifestyle, health, food and of course pulses!

Mariano Norata was born November 24, 1916, to a shepherd family. When he was 11 years old, he was taking care of the sheep and goats they had. Mariano told me: In the past we were poor, sometimes we only ate bread. We walked at least 12KM with our animals every day. There were periods in the year when the animals did not give milk. We only had bread and marmalade. When I married my wife I took over her father’s farm. I became a farmer. I grew potatoes, grain, legumes, vegetables, fruits tomatoes, almonds and we had some animals. Basically, traditional farm life.

How important were legumes in your life?

Legumes were very important to us, they were on the menu at least 3-4 times a week. The legumes we ate gave us the strength to walk through the mountains and to work the fields

Legumes were one of the most important sources of nutrition. We ate the legumes in minestrone, enjoyed them with pasta/potatoes in salads and as a puree. In the summer we ate broad beans, green peas, borlotti beans, green beans, string beans. In the winter we ate dried chickpeas, lentils, cannelini beans, dried fava beans.

The legumes were organic. I grew the legumes myself every year on a different piece of land. They are also helpful for soil health and soil biodiversity.

I am convinced that they help me stay healthy. According to my doctor, they are an excellent source of iron and lower cholesterol levels. I never had any medicine in my stomach until a year ago. I’ve always been healthy.

What is your favorite legume dish? Zuppa di Ceci (chickpea soup) made by my wife. It’s delicious!

Here are some pearls of wisdom that I learned from Mariano Norata.

1) Is bread good for you? I eat bread every day. It’s my most important food which I ate everyday of my life. Always risen by natural yeast ( not commercial bakers yeast ).

2) What foods keep you in shape and keep your brain so sharp? Vegetables! I eat them everyday, all kinds, and even I drink after cooking the water of the vegetables. I always did it. This water is a fountain of nutrients. It is highly recommended to do so.

3) Pasta? Not every day, maybe twice a week. We ate more potatoes and bread.

4) Wine? I drink one glass of red wine everyday with lunch.

5) Fish? In the past we never ate it in our family, because we lived high in the mountains we were not able to walk 1/2 days to the sea and back. You can imagine that if we bought fish, the fish was already off before we arrived in our village. Nowadays I eat some fish, I like it.

6) Meat? Mariano started to laugh and said: “ carne usate con carnavale e natale” which means; we eat meat only with carnaval and christmas. Our meats were legumes: chickpeas, lentils, fava beans, borlotti beans, green beans. We ate them all. In Italy they say “legumi i carne dei poveri”

7) What is the secret to your longevity, according to you? Be a kind man and be good to everyone. Don’t try to be a man of success, but rather try to be a man of value! And don’t overeat. Always leave a little space in your stomach. Discipline!

8) Biggest regret in life? Nothing. I’d do it all over exactly the same way.

Here is another inspiring example of how proper nutrition, physical activity, clean mountain air and a happy mind can lead you to a long healthy life. As Mariano shows, we do not need meat or a lot of animal proteins to survive. In fact, avoiding them provide us longevity and health.

At least Mariano had some very kind words for me: I’m very proud of you Leon, you are doing something great for the future which is really important for the earth and human health. Keep going even if you will have some setbacks. Follow your own heart, you are energetic and have a great spirit. God will bless you.

We made an agreement that I will visit Mariano again around this time next year. Then I will bring some chickpeas from our cultivation and have a lunch together.

What a human being…



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