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the same nutrient in different food-materials. the animal foods, from 160 calories, in the Of the different nutrients, protein is physio- salmon at a dollar a pound, to 6800, in salt logically the most important, as it is pecuni- pork at 13 cents a pound; while in the vegearily the most expensive. For these reasons the table foods in the tables the range is from cost of protein in different food-materials may about 500, in rice at 8 cents a pound, to 1200, be used as a means of comparing their rela- in corn meal at 2 cents a pound. The standtive cheapness or dearness, as is done in Dia- ards for the diet of an ordinary workingman gram VII. The figures represent the ordinary call for from 3000 to 3600 calories in one prices per pound and the corresponding costs day's food. of protein, due allowance being made for the carbohydrates and fats, the estimated costs of which are, for the sake of brevity, omitted from the table.*
EXPENSIVE VS. ECONOMICAL FOODS.
TAKING the diagrams and tabular statements together, the first thing that strikes one is the cheapness of the vegetable as compared with the animal foods. Note, for instance, Diagram VI. and the accompanying figures, which show how much actually nutritive material one may have for 25 cents in different foods at ordinary prices. The quarter of a dollar invested in flour, meal, or potatoes brings several times the quantity of nutrients that it does if spent for meats, fish, or milk. But it is to be remembered that the animal foods contain more of the protein and fats, which are the most valuable food constituents, while the excess of material obtained in the vegetable foods consists mainly or entirely of sugar, starch, and other carbohydrates, which, though very important for nourishment, are far less valuable, weight for weight, than the protein and fats. Furthermore, the protein of the animal foods is more easily and completely digestible than that of the vegetable foods.
The greater expensiveness of animal foods is brought out with even greater clearness in Diagram VII. and in the accompanying figures. The quantities of potential energy in the nutritive material obtained for 25 cents range, in
As explained in previous articles, the actually nutritive ingredients of food may be divided into four classes: Protein, Fats, Carbohydrates, and Mineral matters. Leaving water out of account, lean meat, white of eggs, casein (curd) of milk, and gluten of wheat consist mainly of protein compounds. Butter and lard are mostly fats. Sugar and starch are carbohydrates. The nutrients of meat, fish, and other animal foods consist mainly of protein and fats; those of the vegetable foods are largely carbohydrates.
In serving as nutriment, the protein compounds which contain nitrogen form the basis of blood, muscle, tendon, etc., and are transformed into fat, and also serve as fuel to supply the body with heat and muscular strength. The fats of the food are stored as fat in the body and serve as fuel. The carbohydrates are transformed into fats and serve as fuel. The potential energy in calories (colorie is the equivalent of heat which would warm about four pounds of water one degree Fahrenheit) is taken as the measure of the fuelvalue of the food. One part by weight of fat is equiva
Estimating the expensiveness by the cost of the protein, we find this to range from 8 to 34 cents a pound in the vegetable and from 18 cents to a little over one dollar in ordinary animal foods, meats, fish, milk, eggs, etc.,— while in some it is much higher, thus showing the greater expensiveness of animal foods in another way. The reason for this higher cost is, of course, simple enough. Animal foods are made from vegetable, and by a more or less expensive process. The manufacture of beef or milk from grass and grain involves considerable outlay for labor and incidental expenses, and the product is, of course, much less in quantity than the raw material.
If the reader is interested in such statistics he will find considerable food for reflection in the diagrams and figures. He will observe that among animal foods those which rank as delicacies are the costliest. If he uses the protein of oysters to make blood, muscle, and brain, it will cost him from two to three dollars a pound. In salmon, if he is enough of a gormand to buy it at the beginning of the season at one dollar a pound, he will pay at the rate of five dollars a pound for his protein. In beef, mutton, and pork the cost of the protein ranges from a little over a dollar to about 40 cents a pound. (Salt pork, in which its cost is estimated at 25 cents, contains extremely little protein.) In such fish as shad, blue-fish, and halibut (which are not mentioned in the diagrams), when they are cheap, say from 8 to 12 cents a pound, the protein costs about the same as in
lent, in this respect, to about two parts of either protein or carbohydrates. The demands of different people for nourishment vary with age, sex, occupation, and other conditions of life. Health and pecuniary economy alike require that the diet should contain nutrients proportionate to the wants of the user.
Of course the difference in the composition of different specimens of the same kind of food-material, and in the nutritive effect of the same substance with different persons, is such that these calculations are not correct for every case. Furthermore, there are other things besides the proportions of nutrients that affect the nutritive action of food. This topic I hope to discuss later. Meanwhile it will suffice to say that for the staple food-materials these calculations are probably close approximations to the real nutritive values as compared with the costs. The methods by which they are made are too complex to be explained here, but may be found in an article on "Food Consumption " in the Report of the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor for 1886, p. 251.
AMOUNTS OF ACTUAL NUTRIENTS (NUTRITIVE INGREDIENTS) OBTAINED FOR TWENTY-FIVE CENTS IN DIFFERENT FOOD-MATERIALS AT ORDINARY PRICES, WITH AMOUNTS APPROPRIATE
The actual cheapness or dearness of different foods depends as much upon their composition as their price. The cheapest food-materials are those which furnish the most nutritive material for the cost; the most economical are those which are cheapest and best adapted to the needs of the user. In comparing the nutritive values of foodmaterials with their cost, we may leave the water and refuse matters out of account and consider only the actually nutritive ingredients, protein, fats, and carbohydrates. The amounts of these that may be bought for twenty five cents, in different food-materials at ordinary market prices, are shown here by shaded bands and spaces. The divisions denote pounds and hundredths of a pound. The prices are such as are current in the larger places in the Eastern United States.
The relation of these quantities of nutrients to our daily wants is illustrated by standards for daily dietaries, i. e., quantities of nutrients assumed to be sufficient for the daily food of an average man doing manual labor.
COSTS OF A POUND OF PROTEIN AND AMOUNTS OF POTENTIAL ENERGY OBTAINED FOR TWENTY-FIVE CENTS IN DIFFERENT FOOD-MATERIALS AT CURRENT MARKET PRICES.
beef and mutton; but when the price is from 15 to 25 cents, the cost of the protein is from one to two dollars a pound. In cod and mackerel, fresh and salted, the protein varies from 30 to 80 cents a pound. Salt cod and salt mackerel are generally, fresh cod and fresh mackerel often, and even the choice fish, as blue-fish and shad, when abundant, cheaper sources of protein than any but the cheapest kinds of meat. Among meats, pork is the cheapest; but salt pork or bacon has but very little protein and consists mostly of fat, which, though rich in
potential energy, and very useful for people who have hard work to do or are exposed to severe cold, is not so appropriate in warm weather or for those whose time is spent within doors and whose muscular labor is light. The comparative cheapness of cheese is well worth noting, and the great economy of oleomargarine as compared with butter deserves of more than a passing remark.
The comparison between wheat flour and potatoes is especially interesting. The protein in the wheat flour, at $6 a barrel or 3
cents a pound comes to 11 cents, while in potatoes at 50 cents a bushel it costs 15 cents a pound. Estimated in terms of potential energy, 25 cents pays for about 14,000 calories in wheat flour at $6 a barrel, and 12,000 in potatoes at 50 cents a bushel. The potatoes would have to be reduced to 40 cents a bushel to make their nutrients as cheap as those of wheat flour at $6 per barrel. Adding to this the fact that the protein of wheat is the more valuable, weight for weight, because that in the potatoes is apparently less digestible and certainly of inferior chemical constitution, the showing against potatoes, even at this price, is very decided. But in the eastern portions of the United States, at any rate, people are very apt to pay 75 cents or $1 a bushel for their potatoes, while the finest wheat flour now sells at $6 a barrel; and if they are contented with flour of the coarser grades, they can have it for less.*
In the United States the tendency to extravagance, combined with the mistaken notion as to the nutritive value of costly food, causes exceptions to the rule. Taking the world through, however, the poorer communities and classes of people almost universally select those foods which chemical analysis shows to supply the actual nutrients at the lowest cost. But, unfortunately, the proper proportions of the nutrients in their dietaries are often very defective. Thus in portions of India and China rice, in northern Italy maize-meal, in certain districts of Germany and in some regions and seasons in Ireland potatoes, and among the poor whites of the southern United States maize-meal and bacon, make a large part of the sustenance of the people. These foods supply the nutrients in the cheapest forms, but they are all deficient in protein. The people who live upon them
At first thought this cheapness of wheat flour as compared with potatoes is a little surprising. The natural law of supply and demand of such staple materials, in the long run, shapes the price more or less closely to the actual value for use, and we should expect that the price of potatoes and flour would naturally gravitate to points which would make them more nearly equal in actual cheapness. At $10 a barrel, the price of wheat flour a few years ago, its protein would cost not far from 13 cents a pound, which would correspond to potatoes at about 60 cents a bushel. If the price of flour should remain where it now is, we may perhaps expect that of potatoes to come down gradually to a point where the actual expensiveness of the two will be more nearly the same. Of course this is a matter outside of chemistry, but the little study I have given it leaves me with the decided impression that the prices of such staple food-materials tend to adjust themselves to the nutritive values.
This statement is apparently in direct contradiction with a fact which these computations bring out most forcibly, to wit, the wide difference between the prices of foods and their values. But these differences have, really, a very simple explanation. The prices we pay
are ill-nourished, and suffer physically, intellectually, and morally thereby.
On the other hand, the Scotchman, as shrewd in his diet as in his dealings, finds a most economical supply of protein in oatmeal, haddock, and herring; and the thrifty inhabitants of New England supplement the fat of their pork with the protein of beans and the carbohydrates of potatoes, and supplement maize and wheat flour with the protein of codfish and mackerel; and while subsisting largely upon such frugal but rational diets, are well nourished, physically strong, and distinguished for their intellectual and moral force.
THE FOOD OF THE POOR.
THAT the rich man becomes richer by saving and the poor man poorer by wasting his money is one of the commonest facts in daily experience. It is the poor man's money that is the most un-economically spent in the market, and the poor man's food that is worst cooked and served at home.
I can refer only to a single phase of this subject here, repeating for the purpose a few statements from the article on "Food Consumption" in the Report of the Massachusetts Labor Bureau above mentioned:
tics of dietaries have made inquiries of tradesmen as "The agents of the Bureau in collecting the statisto the kinds of food the poor of Boston purchase and the price they pay.
"By poor people is meant those who earn just enough to keep themselves and families from want. When a grocery-man or market-man is asked, 'What is your experience in dealing with your poor customers in regard to the quality of food used by them?'the answer is, in almost every case, 'Oh, they usually want the best and pay for it, and the most fastidious are those who can least afford it.'
"In the matter of beef, for instance, the cuts most used for steak are the face of the round, costing from
for many of our food-materials are regulated rather by their agreeableness to our palates than their values for nourishing our bodies. The sirloin of beef which we buy for 25 or 30 cents a pound is really no more nourishing than the shoulder which we get for 10 cents, or the neck at 8 cents a pound. In general, only a part, and often a small part, of what we spend for meats and sweetmeats goes for the nutriment they contain. The rest is the price of flavor, tenderness, and other things that make them toothsome. Nor does the disparity between animal and vegetable foods conflict with the principle I have ventured to lay down. Meats, fish, and the like gratify the palate in ways which most vegetable foods do not, and, what is perhaps of still greater weight in regulating the actual usage of communities by whose demand the prices are regulated, they satisfy a real need by supplying protein and fats, which vegetable foods lack. People who can afford it, the world over, will have animal foods and will compete with one another in the prices they give for them. These facts put the choicer animal foods outside the action of the law, if it be a law, that price and nutritive value tend to run parallel.
eighteen to twenty cents per pound; the tip of the sirloin, at from twenty to twenty-five cents; and ribroast, at from eighteen to twenty cents. They do not use the flank-piece for steak and would feel insulted if it were offered them. The flour they use is the best. For butter they pay from twenty-eight to thirty cents per pound at present prices. All their other groceries
are such as are sold to first-class customers.'
I took occasion to make some inquiries myself among the Boston market-men, and one very intelligent butcher, in Boylston Market,
"Across the street over there is an establishment which employs a good many seamstresses. One of them comes to my place to buy meat, and very frequently gets tenderloin steak. I asked her one time why she did not take round or sirloin, which is a great deal cheaper, and she replied, very indignantly, 'Do you suppose because I don't come here in my carriage I don't want just as good meat as rich folks have?' And when I tried to explain to her that the cheaper meat was just as nutritious, she would not believe me. Now Mr. and Mrs., who are among the wealthy and sensible people of this city, buy the cheaper cuts of meat of me. Mr.- very often comes and gets a soup bone, but I have got through trying to sell these economical meats to that woman and others of her class." I am told that the people in the poorer parts of New York City buy the highest priced groceries, and that the meat-men say they can sell the coarser cuts of meat to the rich, but that people of moderate means refuse them. I hear the same thing from Washington and other cities. A friend of mine, a man of wealth, who, like his father before him, had long been noted as one of the most generous benefactors of the poor in the city where he lives, and with whom I happened to be talking about these matters, remarked, "For my family I get the cheaper cuts of meat because they are cheaper. My children are satisfied with round steak and shoulder, even if they are not quite as tender and toothsome as sirloin. They are strong and healthy, and understand that such food is good enough for their parents and is good enough for them." I question whether his gardener or his coachman would be so entirely ready to accept such doctrine; and if the poor people to whom in times of stress his money is given without stint are like many others of their class, not a few of them would be ill content with some of the food-materials that appear regularly on his table.
WASTE OF FOOD.
BUT our popular food-economy is at fault. in other ways as well as in the purchasing of needlessly expensive kinds of food. Results
of examinations of dietaries, to be given in a subsequent article, will show that, unless the inferences from a very large amount of experimenting are entirely at fault, many people buy a great deal more food than they need. The excess is generally of the most expensive kinds of foods, meats, and sweetmeats. In a number of dietaries that have come to my notice, including those of sensible people who really desired to economize, if half the meat, dairy products, and sugar had been left out, and the rest of the food economically used, it would have supplied considerably more nutriment than accepted standards call for. We buy needless quantities of these things because they taste good, and we have got in the way of thinking we must have them. Part of the excess is eaten, to the great detriment of the health, and the rest simply thrown away.
In the course of some studies in physiological chemistry, Mr. C. S. Videon, a student in this laboratory (Wesleyan University), took occasion to examine the dietary of a students' boarding-club, for which purpose accurate determinations of the quantities of meat consumed were necessary. In a piece of roast beef weighing 16 pounds, the " trimmings," which consisted of the bone and the meat cut out with it, and which were left for the butcher to sell to the soap-man or get rid of as he might otherwise choose, weighed 41⁄2 pounds, so that 111⁄2 pounds of meat went to the customer, who, of course, paid for the whole. The butcher said that he sold this sort of beef largely to the ordinary people of the city,mechanics, small tradesmen, and laborers; that many of his customers preferred not to take the "trimmings"; and that they were not exceptionally great in this case, either in amount or in proportion of meat and bone, for that "cut" of beef, which was the "rib-roast." Inquiries of other meat-men brought similar information. The 41⁄2 pounds of "trimmings" consisted of (approximately) 24 pounds of bone and 1⁄2 pound of tendon ("gristle "), which would make a most palatable and nutritious soup, and 134 pounds of meat, of which 1 pound was lean and 34 pounds fat. Mr. Videon estimates that the nutritive materials of meat thus left unused, saying nothing of the bone and tendon, contained some 15 per cent. of the protein and 10 per cent. of the potential energy of the whole. The price of the beef was $2.24. Assuming the nutritive value of the ingredients of the "trimmings" to be 12% per cent, of the whole, 28 cents' worth of the nutriment, besides the bone and tendon, was left at the butcher's.
Dr. S. A. Lattimore, Professor of Chemistry in the University of Rochester, New York, tells me that, while a member of the Board of