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drates of our food, and we are assured by experimenters that it also furnishes heat and muscle energy under certain conditions.
In these last two activities, however, it is far excelled by fats and carbohydrates. We shall, therefore, think of it as the nitrogen-furnisher of our tissues, and also as the grand stimulant among foods, inciting the body, as it does, to burn up more of other kinds.
Scientists at one time held the opinion that our muscle energy comes chiefly from proteids. This view has been abandoned, but many a working man still believes that meat is the only kind of food that is of any account; he thinks of fats and starches as quite unimportant comparatively. Now it has been proved over and over again, that we can combine meat with fats and vegetable food in such a proportion that it shall play only its main rôle, viz. : that of building and restoring, while these latter furnish the heat and muscle energy needed. Proteid food is such a costly article that it will not do to put it at work which cheaper material can do even better.
FUNCTION OF FATS.
The fats also have more than one office in the body. They can be stored as body fat, or they can be burned and give off heat, and they may also serve as a source of muscular energy, in an indirect manner at least.
FUNCTION OF CARBOHYDRATES.
The carbohydrate principle furnishes fat to our tissues, and is a source of heat and muscle energy, indeed the chief source of muscle energy in all ordinary diets.
FLAVORINGS. So far we have had chiefly in mind the real working constituents of food, if we may so speak. But many things cannot be studied or classified in the above way; they must be looked at from another point of view.
Thus, a pinch of pepper, a cup of coffee, a fine, juicy strawberry, — and what of these? They may contain all five of the food principles, but who cares for the proteid action or carbohydrate effect of his cup of good coffee at breakfast, or what inter
est for us has the heating effect of the volatile oil to which the strawberry owes a part of its delicious taste?
Surely the economical housekeeper who would throw out of the list of necessaries all the things that tickle the palate, that rouse the sense of smell, that please the eye and stimulate our tired nerves, just because these things contain but little food, would make a grave mistake. She may know just what cuts of meat to buy, what vegetables are most healthful and economical, but if she does not understand how to make the mouth water,” her labor is largely lost. Especially if she has but little money, should she pay great attention to this subject, for it is the only way to induce the body to take up plain food with relish.
The list of these spices, flavors, harmless drinks, and the like, is a long one. Unfortunately, we have no comprehensive word that will include everything of the sort, from a sprig of parsley to a cup of coffee ; the German calls them Genuss-mittel"pleasure-giving things."
PROPORTIONS AND AMOUNTS OF FOOD PRINCIPLES. We have brought our discussion of the three great food princi. ples to the point where we can inquire in what proportions and amounts these should be represented in our diet.
The standard daily dietary that is most frequently cited, and which, perhaps, best represents the food consumption of the average European workman in towns, is that proposed by Professor Voit. This dietary was made upon the basis of a large number of observed cases. It demands for a man of average size, engaged in average manual labor, Proteids.*
Carbohydrates. 118 gms. 56 gms.
500 gms. * 28.34 grams equal 1 oz.
Now it is the opinion of all competent judges, that at least one third of this proteid should come from the animal kingdom and this one third, if given in the form of fresh beef, would be represented by 230 grams of butcher's meat, calculated to consist of Bone and tendon . . . . . . . . . 18 gms. Fat . . . . . . . . . . . . 21“ Lean . . . . . . . . . . . . 191"
When we take whole populations into account, we find that little if any more meat than this falls to each person per day. Thus the average consumption per day for three great cities is given as follows:
Of course these averages include children, but they also include great numbers of the well-to-do, who eat much more meat than their bodies need.
We will add a few more examples of dietaries, some of which are used by the writer in making out the bills of fare given in this essay.
Proteids. Fats. Carbohydrates.
gms. gms. gms.
400 By the same for children from seven to fifteen years, 80 50 320
We will give an instance of how much below these figures the amount consumed sometimes falls.
Professor Boehm found that a poor North German family, consisting of a man, wife, and child five years old, had in one week for their food :
Calculating the food principles contained in these amounts, we find that the three individuals daily consumed of:
Carbohydrates. 175.5 gms. 41 gms.
1,251 gms. It needs no comment to show how insufficient is this dietary in amount, and how incorrect in proportion.
We have selected Professor Atwater's dietary for a man at moderate manual labor as the basis of our twelve bills of fare and have taken Voit's standard for women and children.
Our climate is more trying and our people work faster, and we shall do well to allow more fat and meat to our workingman than the foreign dietaries provide. If our man is to get daily one third of his proteid in the form of animal food, this would be represented by eight ounces of butcher's meat (without bone), by from five to five and eight tenths ounces cheese, or by eight eggs.
We believe that it is better to go a little high rather than too low with proteid food. As a rule, people who eat enough proteids, and especially enough animal food, are vigorous and have what we call “ stamina,'' and doctors incline to the belief that such people resist disease better because their blood and tissue are less watery than in the case of people who draw their proteids almost entirely from such vegetables as potatoes. But many workingmen in America would be surprised to learn how well health and strength can be maintained on what is, after all, not such a very large amount of meat, provided the rest of the dietary contains enough vegetable proteid and fat.
It now remains for us to see whether the economist can get practical help from the foregoing facts about the character of foods and the use that is made of them in the body.
We have seen that we cannot economize in the amount of our food beyond certain limits and yet remain healthy and strong; also that we must not greatly alter the relative proportions in which experience has shown that these foods are best combined. The true field of household economy has, then, certain prescribed limits.
Its scope lies, 1. In furnishing a certain food principle in its cheap rather than its dear form, for example, the proteid of beef instead of that of chicken, fat of meat instead of butter ; 2. Having bought foods wisely, in cooking them in such a manner as to bring out their full nutritive value, for instance, making a roast juicy and delicious instead of dry and tasteless; 3. In learning how to use every scrap of food to advantage, as in soup making, and 4, if we add to these the art of so flavoring and varying as to make simple materials relish, we have covered the whole field of the household economist, so far as the food question is concerned.
We hope she will find help in the following pages, for it will be part of our task in this essay to examine different articles of food as to their nutritive value, and to recommend such combinations and such methods of cooking as will make the utmost out of a certain sum of money. As for foods, we have in America a large range of choice; staple raw products cost less generally than they do in Europe, and the laboring man here has somewhat more money to buy with. The anxious provider, who must feed many mouths on what seems an insufficient sum, may feel assured that he can without doubt learn to do better than he now does. In this line we must not disdain to learn lessons wherever we can.
There is an unfortunate prejudice among us against learning of foreign countries. The American workman says indignantly that he does not want to learn how to live on “starvation wages.” But the facts, viewed coolly, are just these : the inhabitants of older countries have learned some lessons that we too must soon learn whether we will or no, and to profit by these lessons before we are really obliged to will in no way lower wages, it will simply help us to get more comfort and pleasure out of our money.
Students of economy, political and domestic, find no better school than the experience of older countries, and constantly draw lessons from their greater thrift and economy in living. Mrs. Helen Campbell found, among the poor sewing women of New York, that none were skillful in cooking their scanty food excepting only the German and Swiss women. All observing travelers unanimously give this testimony, “If our American workman knew how to make as much out of his large wage as the foreigner does of his small one, he could live in luxury.”
But, you ask, what are the special lessons to be learned of the foreign housewife? We answer, chiefly self-denial and saving. Do not give up in despair because you have a small income and resign yourself to living meanly, in a hand-to-mouth fashion.