Those privileged of having met their grandparents, or even better, their great-grandparents, know of the staggering improvements in human prosperity over the last 100 years. For those born into wealth it’s noticeable through the advances of modern medicine (allowing you to meet your great-grandparents in the first place), but the changes are even more breathtaking for those whose ancestors have a background in farming.
In fact, most of our ancestor’s stories relate to farming. European immigrants to the United States are often referred to as “seeking a better life”, but the harsher reality is that in most of Europe famine and disease was haunting those living from day to day. The Irish famine of 1845 killed one million people, which at the time represented 15% of the total population. About a century before the mainstream introduction of fungicides, the farming population had no ability to fight potato blight – leading to famines across Europe which caused civil unrest, even toppling the French July Monarchy in the Revolution of 1848.
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