Our FOOD and Our FUTURE
WILLIAM FLEMING FRENCH
FEED RIGHT-THINK RIGHT M ACLEAN'S believes in the doctrine of proper food and food habits and to this end plans to do all in its power to co-operate with our educators, both in and out of Governmental service, in this work. So we are planning to run in our pages a series of articles that will teach our readers not only the principles of nutrition, but also a working knowledge of how they may be applied and that will als~ give 08 a much clearer understanding of the great food industries of Canada and of the foods that they prep~~re for us. These articles are being written by William Fleming French, who ha8 made a life-study of nutritional problems, and who has made 8everal toors across Canada gathering specific data for this series. He is an acknowledged authority, with a continent-wide reputation. Article No. 2 will be entitled: "The Story of Macaroni." No. 3, "Eat and Be Healthy." No. 4, "The Story of Canned Foods."
OF EVERY ten readers of these lines there will be perhaps one who really understands what food means to our future—and in naming this percentage we are crediting the readers of MACLEAN'S with more than average intelligence. We are all familiar with such slogans as "The Staff of Life," "Food Will Win the War," and "An Army Travels On Its Stomach"—but an acceptance of them, together with a notion that food is something that makes you fat or bilious or strong or dys-
peptic constitutes about our philosophy and knowledge of food matters. To the average Canadian, or the average citi zen of any other country for that mat ter, food is simply something to be accepted or rejected strictly upon the merits of its flavor-at least he figures that way until his system registers violent protest. Then he looks at all food with longing and suspicion. Very likely he knows that there are such things as proteins, fats and car bohydrates, and he has heard a good
deal about "vitamines" of late. No doubt he is also familiar with the word "calories," though he doesn't know whether these little mysterious stran gers should be measured with an ounce scale or a coal scuttle. The average housewife knows more concerning the various values and quali ties of our different foods than does the usual male, whose observations have been limited to a personal inter est in mince pie and an unfortunate association with restaurant foods. But she does, not understand the principles
of nutrition because the need of such knowledge has never been brought to her attention-or rather, was not brought to her attention until very re cently. To-day, however, she faces it wherever she turns. The governments (Dominion, Provin cial and municipal) are drumming away on educational campaigns for better feeding methods. The various health organizations and even the public schools are concentrating upon pro grammes that will bring home to the
average parent a clear understanding of the necessity of a knowledge of food values and correct feeding practices.
The great united drive for better nutritional knowledge is occasioned by the realization on the part of the health and public authorities of the country that the status of a race or nation depends upon the status of its foods.
A nation that is not properly nourished cannot he properly governed and a people weakened and impoverished by malnutrition cannot win or hold its place in civilization.
Feed Right—Think Right
JL'ST as the school child suffering from under-nourishment presents a problem of backwardness, weakness and uncertainty so too does the race or nation that attempts to sustain itself with insufficient food or to exist in the face of improper food habits.
The smaller countries of Europe prove this. China offers another example, and Russia bears ample proof of the ravages of improper and insufficient food. A nation cannot think right unless it is fed right. A nation that is denied wholesome, nutritious foods of sufficient variety is denied its place in the sun.
We need food more than we need anything else except water (and water really is food); we buy it oftener than we buy anything else and it is more vital to us than is anything else. Yet we actually know less about our foods than we do about almost anything else we buy.
The average man buys the food that is pleasing to his palate whereas the average woman depends largely upon its attractiveness to her eye. Very, very rarely do either seriously consider the subject of actual nourishment in purchasing of foods.
If we selected fuel for our furnaces and fuel for our motor cars in the same way that we select fuel for our bodies Canada’s winter population would be an exceedingly small and hardy one and we would have little use for the new highways we propose to spend millions to build. For our homes would be frozen1 solid and our cars in the junk shop.
But, you argue, conditions in Canada are very different from conditions in Europe. Canadians are healthy and properly nourished. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States as the greatest food-producing country in the world and our tables are as well supplied with choice edibles as are those in the States.
All right, let us assume that we stand at par with the States. In that case a glimpse at the situation across the line will be really interesting and instructive.
There are, according to the figures of the United States government, more than six million under-nourished children in the American public schools.
A series of examinations, recorded observations, and the use of corrective feeding methods conducted on more than twenty-five thousand American school children proves conclusively the following facts:
That sickness, under-development, backwardness and general “offcolor” of children is usually due to improper nourishment.
That correct feeding can prevent 90 per cent, of these troubles. That corrective feeding can cure 70 per cent, of the cases that have developed.
Extensive investigations show it to be far easier to prevent such troubles than to cure them, and demonstrat« that the right kind of food properly fed affords the child practical immunity from the common ills of childhood.
The balanced ration is the foundation of correct feeding. It is as much the foundation of correct feeding as milk is the foundation of our foods—for milk is the first food we consum« and it must supply us with the strength and growth necessary to the digestion and utilization of other foods.
Milk is called the “perfect food” because it is the one food that meets every requirement of the human body. It has, in other words, just the right
combination and balance of the various nutritive elements needed by our system for health, strength and growth. And so in the glass of fresh, pure, whole milk we have the original balanced ration—and the one that has never been improved upon.
Balanced ration—a mysterious, scientific something that the average housewife associates with the stock farm, the hospital and the nursery; that she knows only as something to be fed to prize stock, invalids and children and that seems very remote from the practical, everyday problems of the kitchen.
Yet the balanced ration is absolutely necessary to every member of her household and their health is largely dependent upon her skill at balancing the nutritive values of the foods she prepares for them.
Proper feeding really spells balanced rations. When we remember that our physical beings are actually the final net of the foods we eat we can easily understand that to have balanced bodies we must eat balanced foods.
This is not a mere figure of speech —it is an actual fact. The food we eat is composed of fifteen chemical elements—as are also our bodies. Not only do our foods and our bodies contain the same number of chemical elements, but also the identical ones. It is, therefore, plain to see that to keep the body in its proper condition and to enable it to function correctly,' we must supply it with all the chemical elements contained in our foods.
The composition of the body is about as follows;
Oxygen......about 65.00 per cent.
Carbon......about 18.00 per cent.
Hydrogen.....about 10.00 per cent.
Nitrogen......about 3.00 percent.
Calcium......about 2.00 per cent.
Phosphorus .. .. about 1.00 per cent.
Potassium .. .. about 0.35 per cent.
Sulphur......about 0.25 percent.
Sodium...... about 0.15 per cent.
Chlorine......about 0.15 per cent.
Magnesium .. .. about 0.05 per cent.
Iron.........about 0.04 percent.
The fact that the quantities of the various chemical elements contained in the body vary greatly, indicates, of course, that the amount of each of these various chemical elements furnished by the foods must differ accordingly. The body needs, for example, many times as much oxygen, carbon and hydrogen as it requires calcium or iron. Nevertheless, these last two are absolutely necessary to our physical welfare, and the balanced ration assures us of receiving them.
It will be seen, therefore, that the balanced ration is a ration or combination of foods that supplies all these chemical elements in correct propor-
These elements are combined into four principal food divisions which are known as protein, fat, carbohydrates and mineral salts, all of which are necessary to the body.
Protein is that part of the food which supplies the “building material” from which the flesh, muscle and tissues are made for the body and is therefore known as the “body builder.”
Fats and carbohydrates are utilized to furnish energy and heat to the body and are called “body fuel.”
Mineral salts furnish the chemicals from which are formed the solutions needed for the digestive process and other chemical actions of the body. These salts also furnish the chemicals necessary for the making of bone and teeth, and for the renewing of tissues.
The Value of Milk.
/'"XUR foods are merely combinations _ of the four principal food divisions described. In milk we have a perfect combination of all, as every nutritive and chemical element needed by the body is contained in this perfect food. In meat we have a combination of protein and fats with no carbohydrates and only a trace of mineral salts. While in vegetables we fyid a combination in which carbohydrates predominate. Cereals contain but a small percentage of fats, a little more protein and a large percentage of car-
bohydrates. Fruits are also rich in carbohydrates and generally low in protein and fat. They contain, however, a large quantity of valuable food qualities known as mineral salts and vitamines. Nuts are very rich in fat and protein and, with the exception of chestnuts, are low in carbohydrates.
Inasmuch as starches and sugars are both carbohydrates, and as fats perform practically the same service to the body as do carbohydrates it is easy to see that a meal composed of several foods rich in starch, as are white bread, potatoes and such foods; rich in sugar as are preserves and other sweetened foods and also rich in fats as are fatty meats, oil and nuts, is very much overbalanced in favor of those elements known as body fuel and is weak in the body-building, bone-building and tissue-renewing qualities. A menu of such meals if persisted in will result in a disordered system and a badly handicapped body and if this condition is continued the body becomes diseased and finally fails to function.
This serious condition exists in millions of people to-day and can be remedied in only one way—by dieting—and dieting merely means eating such foods as will restore the lost balance.
Some of us may wonder why we say our future depends upon our foods. The obvious answer is that if we eat improper food to-day we pay the penalty of poor health to-morrow, but there is still another reason. The foods we eat in childhood determine our health in manhood.
There is a certain span of childhood during which feeding becomes so vital that it is called by the food experts the dangerous age. In the few short years included in this time are crowded your children’s chances for health and happiness.
So important is the feeding of children that one nutritional expert says:
“Let me superintend the feeding of a child during the seven years of its early childhood and the future will take care of itself.”
This is simply another way of saying that the nutritional habits formed during the years of from four to ten inclusive are the years that build or destroy the constitution of a child.
Experience, resulting from the studying of thousands of children, proves that the child who has reached the age of ten years with good food habits has developed a power of resistance capable of conquering almost any trouble or disease that might assail him. And, which is more important, his appetite has been attuned to the foods which are good for him thus leavine him less susceptible to the lure of the indigestible and unnourishing.
Power of Assimilation CONSEQUENTLY it is generally beVJ lieved, and with sufficient reason, too, that the child that is properly nourished during the dangerous age has slight chance of becoming malnourished in later years. This does not mean that the child who has safely passed the ten-year mark cannot jump the nutritional track and store up a lot of future trouble through his stomach, but that the temptation to eat undesirable foods is reduced to a minimum and the ability to assimilate such foods increased.
Therefore, the best insurance against mal-nutrition and guarantee of good, sound bodies and bright minds for your children is found in the formation of good food habits during the dangerous age, during the years of from four to ten.
Realizing that a knowledge of correct feeding habits is necessary for the health and future of Canada, MACLEAN’S MAGAZINE desires to lend its shoulder to the great drive for better feeding—to do everything in its power to help bring to the people of Canada a clear understanding of the need of such knowledge.
MACLEAN’S now wants to go on record with an unqualified endorsement of general education along nutritional lines and with a plea for the establishment of nutritional feeding classes in the public schools of the Dominion.