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Food Estimates

( Originally Published 1904 )

In order to facilitate comparison of the values as food of the several articles of diet of both animal and vegetable origin.

Cheese occupies the first place in the list for richness in albumen. After it in order come beans and peas. The richness of eggs in albumen and fat is remarkably high. Potatoes, carrots, and apples, which may be regarded as types of the other roots, tubercles, and fruits, are very poor in the respective simple ,foods.

This table might be elaborated, and very much lengthened; but tables are always considered rather dry methods of presenting facts. A sufficient number of representative foods is here given to show the values of the several food articles.

The process of cooking has in view the reaching of two distinct ends, and these are often attained by a single process. These are: to modify the chemical and physical state of the articles of food in order to make them more digestible; and, secondly, to impart to the food a more agreeable appearance, taste, and odor, by processes of roasting, boiling, and the addition of sauces, condiments, etc. For instance, a raw potato is almost indigestible; but when it is boiled, the grains of which it is composed are rendered lighter, and consequently more' easily dissolved. The woody fibre in which these grains of starchy matter are enclosed is broken down, and the contents are more easily reached by the saliva and the digestive juices.

It is often stated that only the first of these ends is of prime importance; and that a normally healthy person requires no stimulus to the appetite created by youth, exercise, and the bodily losses. Yet we all know that one may go to. a table with a keen appetite and a relish for food, and partake of badly cooked and badly served food, rise from the table with a feeling of satiety, and still not have eaten in proportion to the real needs of the body. How often have we anticipated a meal with relish, and yet been able to eat of it, as the French say, with only the ends of our teeth. And again, how often have we approached a meal with no feeling of appetite, only to find ourselves enticed to hearty eating by the appetizing dishes. We of course know the teaching that we should not eat when we do not crave food, and while this, in a sense, is nature's warning to abstain, yet we know of many cases where the lack of desire arises from no impairment of the bodily functions, but from many other causes. How many housekeepers tire of their own cooking, and " would give any-thing for some one's else cooking, even though it be much inferior "! The lack of appetite is also in many cases a warning from nature that too much of one sort of food is being taken, and that the bodily needs in other directions are being ignored. Then it is that savory dishes and enticing cooking play their true part in the household economy. To all of these may be added the effects of climate, age, and occupation; to say nothing of the lack of exercise, the sedentary habits, and the jaded appetite of those in poor health. Here is a field for the active and steady influence of all of the intelligence, skill, neatness, and ingenuity that a housekeeper can exert.


The absolutely vegetable diet comprises only the products of the earth to the exclusion of all food of animal origin. But in practice this diet includes also milk and eggs. This form of diet has many adherents among religious bodies, notably the Brahmins of India. There is a group of vegetarians in Manchester, England, who have adopted as their formula: V. E. M. Vegetables, eggs, milk.

By a mixed diet is meant one of meat, milk, eggs, bread, vegetables, and fruits.

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