September 29, 2015

"A nation of tall cheese-eaters."

BBC looks into why the Dutch are now the tallest people in the world.
Four hundred years ago, much of the country lay under water, and much of the rest was swampy marshland. "The buttock of the world", was how one 17th-Century visitor described it, "full of veines and bloud, but no bones". Over the next few centuries though, the Dutch embarked on an extraordinary project to rebuild their country. Thousands of canals were dug, and bogs were drained by hundreds of water-pumping windmills....  [M]ilk became a popular drink at a time when clean water was in short supply. Any that wasn't drunk was churned into butter or cheeses, often named after the towns where they were traded, such as Gouda (pronounced, to the confusion of cheese-lovers worldwide, "How-da")....

52 comments:

Sebastian said...

"Gouda (pronounced, to the confusion of cheese-lovers worldwide, "How-da")"

Actually, no -- not by the Dutch themselves, anyway. There's a guttural g in there somewhere, if I recall a Dutch friend's pronunciation.

But what do you expect from people who called the Netherlanders "Dutch"?

Michael K said...

I thought Croatians were the tallest.

tim maguire said...

Like maybe "Chowda" Like Boston clam chowda?

teej said...

"There are only two things I can't stand in this world. People who are intolerant of other people's cultures... and the Dutch." Nigel Powers

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

How can we be sure it's the cheese and not the crackers?

Nonapod said...

It has little to do with cheese and far more to do with genetics, specifically taller people being more reproductively successful that shorter people. I think Northern European cultures in general prize male height more than a lot of other cultures.

Clark said...

"Like maybe "Chowda" Like Boston clam chowda?"

If you say the 'ch' like the 'ch' in J.S. Bach, then yes.

MadisonMan said...

Is it World Dairy Expo time?

DKWalser said...

Obviously the process of natural selection selected people who were tall -- they were more likely to survive when the dikes broke.

Curious George said...

Tall, yes. But they can't jump.

buwaya said...

Genes, not cheese.

traditionalguy said...

That is also the story of the Calvinist work ethic at work. It served as a a tolerant home for the Huguenots, Lutherans and other Christians that fled to escape murder by Catholic Monarchs.

Our Pilgrims that turned up at Cape Cod first rested up there. Also the King Billy that finally won England for Christianity at the battle of the Boyne in 1690, and was imported to England for that purpose, was originally the Statdholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and Gelderland in the Dutch Republic.

Anonymous said...

A couple more decades of Muslim immigration will have them moving back to the mean.

Unknown said...

They had to grow taller to compensate for the low elevation of their country.

Michael K said...

"They had to grow taller to compensate for the low elevation of their country."

To look over the dike.

Anonymous said...

No matter how they got the way they are now, they MUST BE STOPPED.

Skeptical Voter said...

Cut some slack, and give some respect to the Watusi or Tutsi tribe. The Dinkas are pretty tall too. I call "racism" on this story about the Dutch being the world's tallest people. And heck, I'm a mongrel American and am 6' 5" tall myself. Short in Dinka land I know.

Travis Stoll said...

Apropos of nothing, the Nederland liberation war against the Spanish Empire took 88 years. You gotta honor that.

Milwaukie Guy
[don't know how to sign out another's google account]

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there, recently, an advice from a federal busy body that kids should drink diet-drinks and not milk?

Anonymous said...

LarsPorsena said... A couple more decades of Muslim immigration will have them moving back to the mean.

A couple more years when the head choppers start doing their head chopping.

Travis Stoll said...

Having a lot of Scots-Irish in me, and Presbyterianism, my mom used to send me to school on St. Paddy's wearing Orange, for King Billy. It was cool, all the Catlics were at St. Somewhere and the Prods and Jews at the public school didn't care.

We have a lot to thank the Netherlands for.

Brando said...

"There are only two things I can't stand in this world. People who are intolerant of other people's cultures... and the Dutch." Nigel Powers

They used this joke because of the silliness of choosing the Dutch of all people to hate, but it packs a lot more punch (juxtaposed with the idea of hating intolerance as well) when used against more traditionally discriminated-against groups.

Brando said...

Holland has a lot going for it--two different names (that and Netherlands, with the inhabitants somehow being called Dutch, or "Swamp Belgians"), a beautiful canal-city, great artists, their names on stuff all over New York--I have that on my "must visit one day" list.

Calvinus said...

I went to a small Christian college in the Mid-West that was founded by Dutch immigrants and has a large percentage of students with Dutch ancestry. At graduation time they had us line up tallest to shortest to receive our robes. Out of the group of 80 men and women that I was randomly assigned to, I was the very shortest guy, and shorter than about a quarter of the women. I'm 5'11--slightly taller than the average American male. The Dutch are tall.

AllenS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott said...

I thought the Sudanese are tallest.

Like the British, the snaggle-toothed Dutch have a disdain for orthodontia. Strong teeth but not very nice to look at.

My favorite Dutch cheese is Parrano. Oh, what a friend we have in cheeses.

AllenS said...

The short ones drowned because much of the country lay under water, and much of the rest was swampy marshland.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Anecdotal sorta-data point: I'm 5'8, and in the SF Bay Area I generally feel surrounded by taller people. I was in Provence and northern Italy recently, and got the strong impression that I was taller than usual, compared to the locals and tourists.
Of course, perhaps Provence and north Italy are not "northern European". Or perhaps the prevalence of stoop-shouldered tourists skewed the statistics in my favor.
Who wants to fund me to return there for more research? I'll need to visit the Netherlands and (pauses, flips a coin) Denmark too, to broaden the data set.

Alexander said...

My recollection is that the French, English, and Germans lost an inch because survival of the fittest and survival in a muddy trench in 1915 wasn't a very friendly environment for tall men.

Of course, that would still pit the Dutch up against the Scandinavians, but then someone has to be the tallest.

traditionalguy said...

My Dutch memory includes an amateur soccer team that I was a part of just out of college that had a Dutch player. He was a tall and thin forward that could kick it the length of the field. He was a Delta Mechanic as I remember. He told me he was too short to play goalie in Holland, although he was the tallest player on our team.

Chris N said...

Ah, but who will eat the Dutch, and grow taller still?

Scott said...

Pass the Dutchie on the left hand side
Pass the Dutchie on the left hand side
It a gonna burn, give me music make me jump and prance
It a go done, give me the music make me rock in the dance…

Fernandinande said...

Chris N said...
Ah, but who will eat the Dutch, and grow taller still?


The tall and famous Dutch painter Hertz van Rental.

holdfast said...

"To look over the dike"

You can't say that.

It's "a woman in comfotable shoes".

- Paraphrasing Robin Williams' Adrian Kronauer

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Triggering--needs a warning for the lactose intolerant and for promoting a concept of detectable ethnic differences/heritable differences among different ethnic groups.
Problematic, obviously.

tim in vermont said...

The G in Gouda is pronounced like the Ch in Chanukah, otherwise it does rhyme with howda, or chowder if you are from certain areas of Boston.

It is not an American 'H', that's for sure. People laughed at me the first time I pronounced it outside of our home. I had no idea it was called "Gooodah" by people.

Fernandinande said...

Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys eat 30% more cheese than the Dutch.

Char Char Binks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Char Char Binks said...

Skeptical Voter, the Netherlands has the tallest people AS A NATION; the Tutsis and Dinka a tribes, not nations.

Phil 3:14 said...

Tall Dutchman

Anonymous said...

As a kid in the '80s, my teachers told me that for a while, Americans were considered tall as our lower classes got better jobs and nutrition than in the countries they left behind, but that ended and other countries were already passing us by. No idea if that would withstand the Google test.

It seem though, anecdotally, that American females of all ethnicities have gained far more generational height than the guys.

Phil 3:14 said...

Another

Michael Edward McNeil said...

“Dutch” as a term for Netherlanders comes from Deutsch, the traditional name of Germanic peoples for themselves. Somewhat similarly, it's really not (or it originally wasn't) “Pennsylvania Dutch”, but rather “Pennsylvania Deutsch” — i.e., Pennsylvania Germans.

Oscar DeNoe said...

Right now,(in Fall 2015), mistake to omit mention of Ms. Daphne Schippers in any sort of tall Dutch discussion. (YouTube Daphne 2015 Beijing.) She may be closing in on "fastest woman ever" sobriquet. Remains to be seen. But she nearly caught the incomparable Shelly Ann in the 100, and, in all history, only Flo-Jo has run a faster 200. North European heritage? Lump in the throat, and pride tears.

tim in vermont said...

Speed skating, that's our sport. Hans Brinker, and all that.

Bob Ellison said...

Those Dutch are tall, damn it. And good-looking, too, damn it. And they speak eleventy languages and make fantastic chocolates and are gregarious and party animals yet mindful of bikers on the road.

Damn it.

Brando said...

As the Dutch have multiple names for themselves (Netherlanders, Dutch, Hollanders, Swamp Belgians) perhaps we can add a few more: Soft Germans, Dike Lovers, Canal Monkeys, Indonesia Users, Rotterdammits...

Yes I'm jealous of them.

Magson said...

I wonder if that holds true to Dutch who emigrated. My grandfather (born in 1910, died 2008) was 100% Dutch, but he was also 3rd generation American (his grandfather immigrated to the US in the 1850's) with a height of 5'8". This makes me 1/4 Dutch and I'm 5'10" though as a teen I took prescribed medication that stunted my growth, so I might have made it to 6' or maybe even 6'1" -- but my 16-yr old son, who's only 1/8 Dutch, is currently 6'3" and still growing.

Bob Ellison said...

Magson, I'm only 5'7" and have been known to split lunch bills.

Only myself to blame.

Michael Edward McNeil said...

Holland as a term for the Netherlands derives from the (historically culturally dominant) province of the same name that includes the capital, Amsterdam.

tim in vermont said...

My mother was born in the Netherlands and we always called her mother "Grandma in Holland." We never used the term "The Netherlands" in conversation. Not once. But I am sure that are lots of people on the internets what knows better.

Somebody said...

Since when does cheese-eating make people taller? Is there any medical evidence for that? It seems to me they are trying very hard to avoid the conclusion that the Dutch population has changed genetically, probably because it contradicts the PC dogma (per Stephen Jay Gould et al) that human evolution stopped many millennia ago.