Why And What We Eat
( Originally Published 1916 )
To the person enjoying good health, the importance of the above question may never occur. Having grown quite accustomed to the daily habit of eating, we simply take it as a matter of course, no longer stopping to inquire the reason or whether we are using a suitable diet. This is wrong. There are few of the duties or pleasures of life which cannot be more efficiently performed if a little thought is given thereto.
I might answer the question " Why do we eat? " in a very few words, but it would show a lack of appreciation of the subject to dismiss it so shortly. To incorporate in the answer facts which are both scientific and at the same time of commanding interest requires more time and explanation. Much information, collected in the last few years, shows the value of a scientific investigation of the diet of man. It also shows the improbability of falling by chance upon the best way of feeding the body.
This is an age of efficiency. More and more, antiquated methods are seen crumbling before scientific and well planned and organized systems. Annual savings of millions of dollars represent the value of the services of expert economists to the railroads of this country. Analysis of the motions used in bricklaying and teaching the simplest way. has increased the work of each bricklayer by one hundred per cent. Intensive methods of farming have greatly increased the value of every acre of farm land in the United States by raising its yield from thirty to fifty per cent.
Farmers have learned how to feed their chickens and cows along scientific lines. They know what a calorie is. They know how much should be fed in a day. They know the proportion of proteins to carbohydrates and fats. They know how best to adapt the feedings to hens which are laying or to those which are being fattened for market.
With the above facts in mind, the importance of a study of the diet of man becomes self evident. When pursued, it is found to be a field of investigation far richer than could have been anticipated. It is strange that man should have fed his animals scientifically long before the importance of a similar management of his own diet occurred to him. Why is this so? First, he saw the monetary gain in making his animals healthy and efficient; second, his animals are not long-lived, and he has a wider view of results in their cases. As for himself, he is about through with life before he has any idea of the results of methods which he has followed. He does not sufficiently value his own life and health. Many wealthy people spend more money, and begrudge it less, on automobiles and chauffeurs than on health and doctors. Occasionally a man is known to die for want of good food, though hoarding comparative wealth, because he values his coffers above his own well-being. Others value the pleasures of the palate above their ultimate good. If man had had a greater realization of his own value, he would have developed much more rapidly than he has done in the last twenty centuries. However, his time may come. He may be last but not least. Succeeding chapters will further develop the discussion of what we should eat.