( Originally Published 1927 )
In selecting food remember that the maintenance of health is one of the chief functions of food.
Recently some new terms have come into use, as applied to healthful feeding. The word vitamins indicates delicate substances necessary for health. I have seen no chemical formula for them, but when we realize that they are abundantly present in most raw foods, including fruits and vegetables, we can make the practical application. In selecting foods, see to it that every day a goodly amount of raw food is included in the bill of fare. The ideal raw foods are fruits and the salad vegetables.
The cell salts, or mineral salts, are the compounds of iron, phosphorus, sulphur, potash, soda, magnesium, and other body elements. For practical purposes, all we need know about them is that they too are abundantly present in the raw fruits and raw vegetables. Both the vitamins and the mineral salts are changed for the worse in cooking. Extreme heat destroys the health values of many foods, hence the need of raw foods.
If the vegetables are properly canned without preservatives, they are good, but not so good as the fresh vegetables. Use no canned foods when fresh ones may be had. Dried vegetables are coming into use again and they are good.
Fresh fruits are best. Properly dried are almost as good. But if sulphur compounds are employed as preservatives, the foods are not so good. Many of the foods are bleached with sulphur, which is bad practice. Most canned fruits contain too much sugar. If possible, get the fresh fruits, or else some naturally dried or evaporated fruits that are free from chemicals.
Figs, dates, raisins, and prunes are very nourishing, for they are rich in natural sugars, and they are also rich in mineral elements.
White sugar is a good fuel, for it contains much carbon which is easily digested; but it is a poor food, from the standpoint of health. It has no health value, for it has been robbed of all vitamins, all the natural mineral salts. The sweet fruits, honey, maple sugar and the brown sugars are better than the refined white sugar.
Refined white flour is not a good food. Like sugar, white flour is a good heater, but it has been robbed of its health-giving, life-prolonging qualities. Get the dark flours, made of the whole grains.
White, polished rice is also a good heater, but it is a disease-producing food in this form, as has been proved where polished rice has been the main part of the diet. When the people became ill through the use of the refined rice, they were cured by feeding them the rice bran. It is best to use the whole rice grain, with its bran coating. Rice grains have a brownish appearance, and this natural rice has a most agreeable flavor, far superior to the flat taste of the polished rice.
Whole wheat flour and brown rice do not keep as well as white flour and polished rice, for the latter have been devitalized. But it is worth while to take extra care in order to enjoy better and longer life.
The nucleins are albuminous-fatty substances, which in the vegetable kingdom are found freely present in the germs of the grains.
They are valuable foods, present in natural flour, but removed from refined white flour. Use the entire grain flours (whole wheat flour, corn meal, etc.) and obtain the benefit to be derived from the most highly vitalized part of the grain foods.
Pasteurized or boiled milk is partly devitalized. Yet the health departments of large cities frequently insist on pasteurizing the milk. In this way we get filthy milk containing many dead bacteria; the heating temporarily prevents further decay. Such milk is especially injurious to the young. In babies it tends to produce rickets, malnutrition and death. True, filthy raw milk is injurious too, but the cor-rection is to keep the milk clean and uncooked, and thus retain the health-giving vitamins and natural salts.
The vegetable oils are valuable foods. Pea-nut oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, and olive oil are good foods, especially in cold weather. The animal fats serve the same purpose. Some have trouble digesting olive oil but easily digest butter. Vegetarians are apt to claim that vegetable proteins and fats are more easily digested than animal proteins and fats. Theoretically this may be true, but practically it is false. The vegetable products, when properly prepared, are cleaner than animal foods, but generally harder to digest.
Under our complex conditions we can not at all times trace the source of our foods, but we will fare well if we make it a rule to get as many of our foods as possible in natural form, and keep away from overly refined foods, and those to which preservatives have been added. Our foods have been evolving while the race has evolved; man can improve these foods only
when he works in harmony with nature. When he tampers with our food supply, throwing it out of balance through overrefining or poisoning it by adding preserving chemicals, or heating it so as to destroy some of the most vital substances, he is subtracting from our health column, and shortening life.
Be in harmony with nature when selecting foods.