Nine: What the World Should Know of the Mysteries of Food
§ 111 -- Iron and the Raisin
THE skin of anemic women is white. The flesh of anemic women is flabby. The muscles of anemic women lack tone. When iron is withdrawn from their blood the roses vanish from their cheeks. Cosmetics applied from the outside deceive neither God nor man.
Iron deficiency as a disease baffles the medical profession. There are no whoops of joy, no outbursts of buoyant energy, no cries of bounding gladness, no hops, skips or jumps, no fountains of eternal youth, vigour, life or health in the bottle of "beef, iron and wine," or the jar of rouge.
Tired and listless folk, with energising iron clamouring for recognition, fail to see it at their doors.
Among the most prolific sources of food iron, the raisin is conspicuous. California might well be called the "Iron State" though never has she been so honored. Her fruity little nuggets of iron are gathered from bounteous harvests only to be ignored by white-faced creatures, who mournfully cry, "Where are the iron men of yesterday ?"
The raisin, heavy with iron in its most assimilable form, begs mankind to let it do for the weak and the weary the things it was created for.
Polar explorers with indomitable courage face the longest nights of the Arctic winter when iron props their strength. When the prop falls they yield tribute to misery and death, attended by anemia, scurvy and mineral starvation.
No wonder the adventurer who pushes into the North places the raisin on the pinnacle of glory nature made for it.
Lelensky fed dogs upon foods deprived of iron. Dogs can live on any food that will sustain a human being. In one dog thus fed on an ironless diet the percentage of the red colouring matter of its blood fell in nine days from 18.5 to 13.1; in another dog fed the same way the percentage dropped in six days from 14.8 to 11.3. Anemia became more pronounced as the ironless diet was continued.
California with her vast crop of raisins should know that the iron demanded by the body for oxidation, secretion, reproduction and growth must be obtained from food iron not from medicinal iron.
Because it contains an abundance of iron the raisin might well be chewed as gum or tobacco is chewed. It might well become a part of all our breadstuffs, cakes and muffins. It might well go with us into the hospital and the nursery.
Soaked in water overnight and simmered gently for a few minutes in the morning, the raisin makes an ideal and easily digestible breakfast fruit.
Like whole cereals it contains the mineral salts essential to life. Not only does it provide iron in abundance, but it yields in large measure lime, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.
The raisin is a gift of God. Every athlete, every mother, every child, should cultivate the raisin habit.
If we could increase the consumption of raisins a hundred-fold, much of the anemia due to our denatured foods would disappear.
Come, California, give us raisins and more raisins, so that in the days of peace we may find argosies of iron-laden dried grapes ploughing their way over courses whose mistresses too long were iron ships of war.
Some little confirmation of the truths outlined here breaks forth occasionally in wholly unexpected fashion.
In April, 1917, the New York State College of Agriculture, Cornell University, issued a bulletin urging the people to consume generous quantities of milk, eggs, dried and fresh fruits, peas, beans, succulent vegetables, whole wheat, whole corn and whole rice in order to obtain the minerals necessary to health.
"Green vegetables contain great quantities of iron, and iron," continued the bulletin, "enters into the composition of the cell nucleus and of that part of the red corpuscle which carries oxygen.
"Iron is important for growth and for maintaining the blood in good condition. Children, young girls and women, expectant mothers especially, need a diet rich in iron.
After outlining the necessity of iron, lime, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, sodium and other food minerals, the bulletin declared: "It is advisable to include in the daily dietary a certain amount of cellulose frequently called indigestible plant fibre or roughage."
Here, at last, is university recognition of facts in the denial of which the food poisoners of America are more menacing from within than was the Kaiser from without.
Every day since 1911 the New York Globe persevered in spreading this gospel, and every day until the Cornell bulletin appeared it was laughed at, as it has been laughed at ever since.
Among the best of the foods symbolic of mineral richness, is the humble potato. The United States has never made full use of this naturally alkaline food. Our methods of preparing it have squandered its most desirable dietetic substance.
Because the potato has been plentiful and comparatively cheap we have looked upon it as unimportant, yet Armand Gautier himself has no hesitancy in declaring that the potato, in addition to whole-grain bread and meat, is the most general and valuable aliment. Since it has become popular, famine has disappeared from Europe.
The small new potato differs little in composition from the fully developed potato. Because of its great richness in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, it does not acidify the blood as other starchy foods, but rather alkalises it.
When peeled and cooked in water it loses most of these mineral salts, which pass into the water and are not served at the table. Steamed in its skin the potato retains its full flavour, also its salts. Baked in its jacket it is ideal, provided the skin has been carefully washed and brushed before baking. Even the crisp skin when masticated will agree with nearly everybody -- man, woman and child.
Growing children and expectant mothers should not eat fried potatoes, nor should any adult in delicate health.
Next to the potato in value as regards their alkaline influence on the blood, the carrot, turnip and parsnip are paramount.
Tender, new carrots, steamed and served with butter sauce, cream sauce made of milk powder and their own juice, are not as popular in America as they should be.
Turnips, steamed, mashed and seasoned, are likewise lacking in popularity. Parsnips lack the general recognition which their virtues merit. In the old-fashioned home these tubers are employed in soup making, thus contributing their alkalising juices to the dietary. They yield calcium in quantity almost as great as that afforded by the potato.
The parsnip contains nearly twice as much calcium as the potato and in potassium salts is richer than carrot, turnip or potato. The parsnip also contains more phosphorus but less iron. The carrot and turnip contain less than half the iron found in the potato.
A judicious combination of these tubers will bring to the dinner table such varying percentages of these alkaline salts that in the long run the general average of the combination might be said to be ideal.
In proportion to cost the fruits and vegetables furnish much more iron than meat and fish.
Sherman reports the cost of meat and fish is about 35 percent of the total expenditure for food and the cost of vegetables and fruits only 18 percent, although the food iron of the vegetables is incomparably superior to the mere traces of iron found in meat.
Meat tends toward excessive intestinal putrefaction with resulting absorption of poisons detrimental to the red blood cells and interfering with the economy of iron in the body. Fruits and vegetables on the other hand have the opposite effect, and their use in liberal quantities tends to prevent intestinal putrefaction.
Herter shows that among anemic people the anemia is closely associated with intestinal putrefaction, and that an improved condition of the blood quickly follows upon the larger use of fruits and vegetables.
He observes that anemia is much more common among meat-eating animals than among herbivorous animals. Not only are the salts contributed by the carrot, parsnip, turnip and potato of great aid in bringing up the blood to normal, thus fortifying the tissues against disease, but because of their bulky residue they produce a mild laxative effect which prevents the absorption of putrefactive poisons in the intestines.
In ancient times the carrot and turnip were held in great esteem, and it is difficult to understand the reason for America' s indifference to them.
The Greeks and Romans boiled the carrot in a stew pan over a slow fire with cummin and a little oil, sprinkling the finished dish with ground cumminseeds before serving.
The epicurians of Athens prepared turnips by boiling them, adding cummin, mashing in a mortar, then adding honey, grape vinegar, gravy, stewed grapes and a little oil. The whole was left to simmer and then served.
The extensive cultivation of vacant lots, home gardens and truck gardens stimulated in America by the war, should never again be discontinued. We should eat more cabbage, spinach, lettuce, onions, leeks, radishes, parsley and cucumbers, except in the rare cases where the individual presents an idiosyncrasy against them.
All these greens afford large percentages of potassium. The presence of potash (potassium carbonate) in the ashes of burned wood accounts for the fact that wood ashes are alkaline. It is for this reason they are used in sweetening sour or acid soil.
The potassium salts of these green vegetables have the same effect exactly on the tissues of the body, keeping them sweet and alkaline.
The eating of these vegetables actually diminishes the acidity of the urine, a fact demonstrated by Blatherwick, who found in all his experiments with vegetables that the urinary acidity is diminished as expected, showing that the alkalinity of vegetable foods is actually utilised in neutralising the acids of the body.
On this point Sherman is most explicit and emphatic. "It should be clearly understood," he says, "that an excess of base-forming elements in the food is not in any sense objectionable, since the oxidation processes in the body are constantly yielding such large quantities of carbonic acid that any surplus of base-forming elements goes to form bicarbonates which not only do not disturb the neutrality, but which act as a reserve material for its maintenance."
It is obvious as all experiments attest that the greater the amount of meat, fish, eggs, sugar and starch consumed, the more important is a liberal supply of fruits and vegetables. As meat eaters we have run mad. Our vegetable appetite is far below normal. This lack of balance, even without white bread to contribute to it, is menacing the stamina of America.
When the Creator placed man in the garden of Eden, He commanded him to eat of the fruit it contained.
From that time fruit has been mentioned incessantly in the history of nations.
The American farmer frequently complains that he cannot obtain the cost of picking his fruit, nor the cost of a basket or crate in which to ship it to market.
I have attended many legislative hearings in which these grievances have been aired.
Fruit trees have been chopped down, the stumps removed, and the whole orchard given up to the cultivation of other crops because the people of the cities eat fruit so slowly that little room is made for new shipments, which must be sold for a song or allowed to rot on the ground.
The United States produces an abundance of fruits of every kind, yet so strangely have the American people been weaned from their fruit appetites that they consume perhaps one-fifth of the total annual harvest. For this reason they pay fancy prices for such fruits as they do eat.
If their fruit appetites were normal they would secure great quantities of fruit at much cheaper prices, and the fruit farmer who now barely ekes out a living from his labors, would be prosperous and happy.
We know how Moses exempted from military service any one who had planted a vineyard, and how all fruit trees conferred the same privilege upon their owners.
The heathen nations understood the importance of fruits. To make them sacred and thus augment their popularity, they invented gods and goddesses to look after them, such as Pomona, Vertumnus, Priapus.
The sole care of these deities was to protect orchards from bad weather, insects and robbers.
The fruit of the olive tree grew under the protection of Minerva; the date was consigned to the protection of the Muses; the fig and grape were looked after by Bacchus.
So greatly did the heathens venerate these two fruits that they elevated Bacchus to the level of their other gods.
We have here an instance of a god receiving a promotion through the human appetite for figs and grapes.
The Greeks always served two courses of fruits. The Romans always ate fruit for breakfast. The third course of their principal meal consisted of an incredible profusion of the production of their own orchards.
Rich patricians planted fruit trees on the summits of high towers, and on their house tops, thus dwelling always, as they thought, under the orchards and the protection of the god watching over them.
From Rome the modern method of canning California fruits in a thin sugar syrup was borrowed. The Romans immersed their fruit in honey for future use. In those days bees were cultivated with great care, and the Romans not only enjoyed the fruits of the orchard, but also the nectar of its blossoms.
In all experiments conducted with gorillas, chimpanzees and other members of the monkey tribe, it has been found that these creatures thrive best on a fruit diet. The reason for this is not difficult to find, although certain groups of scientists have tried to prove that their own meat-eating grandparents descended from the fruit and vegetable-eating primates.
The luscious flavour and tempting bouquet of ripe fruits stimulate appetite and excite the flow of gastric juices. Fruit juice is medicine. Fruit pulp is food.
No pharmacist has ever compounded a nostrum which bears in curative properties the slightest resemblance to pure fruit juice.
Perhaps if the fruit farmers of the United States were to organise themselves into an educational association, and by taxing their fruits a cent a basket, create a fund for the purpose of advertising the truth concerning the medicinal virtues of ripe fruit, they would no longer have occasion to complain of bad markets. Fruit juice has no calorie value. It is just good.
The appetite for fruit is a natural one, and needs only to be restored. The coarser and grosser flavours of charred meats and heavy gravies have blunted the fine organs of taste, but down in the heart of man is an instinctive appreciation of the products of vine and tree which can never be entirely destroyed.
Upon this foundation there can be built to the benefit of the people of America an edifice devoted to the improvement of public health by way of the dissemination of fruit truth.
At the root of such truth lie the results of the work of Blunt, University of Chicago, and Otis, College of Emporia, Kansas.
These laboratory workers were shocked to find that dietitians invariably compute the quantity of iron in the cooked food prescribed for their patients on the published percentages of iron in the raw food. All these published percentages of mineral salts in foodstuffs are determined from analyses of the raw product.
Blunt and Otis, knowing that the soluble salts are lost in cooking, also knew that such loss would deprive the patient of a large quantity of the very elements for which the dietitians prescribed certain foods.
Selecting iron as the subject for their tests, they found the average loss in boiling in the usual way for spinach was 43 percent, for string beans 39 percent, for navy beans 32 percent, for peas 36 percent, for potatoes 15 percent. As this loss represented soluble iron it is probable that the remaining salt is not nearly so available for the uses of the body.
The other salts are lost to a similar degree, hence all vegetables which are boiled before serving, unless their juices are consumed as soup, make it necessary to consume more fruit, the juices of which are not usually poured down the waste pipe.
With the exception of prunes, currants and raisins, practically all dried fruit in America is outraged by treatment with sulphurous acid. Even the Sultana or blond raisin is bleached. The dried apricot, dried apple, dried peach, dried pear, and the fancy dates and figs are bleached. Dried mushrooms, maraschino cherries, English walnuts and almonds are likewise subjected to the fumes of burning sulphur.
New Orleans and Porto Rico molasses, no longer worthy of the name they bear, are doped with this chemical. White wines contain enormous quantities of sulphurous acid, the spiteful, biting, acrid flavour of which is dominant once the consumer's attention is drawn to it.
Crystallised ginger root and candied fruit peels are treated in the same manner.
The enormous extent to which sulphurous acid and its salts are employed is not dreamed of by the plain people.
For years the Bureau of Chemistry, Department of Agriculture, at Washington, and the dried fruit industry have fought each other to such lengths that scientists and lawyers engaged by both sides in a controversy the public has never heard of, have appeared in almost all the courts of the country for and against the sulphurous acid abuse.
All efforts to reform the methods of preparation whereby brunette fruits are forced to appear under a blond exterior have been defeated by the food sophisticators.
For eight years the Referee Board to whose hands the sulphurous acid problem was referred for a decision, kept quiet while in the meantime the harvest of sulphured fruits increased enormously.
In 1909 California alone produced 40,000,000 pounds of dried peaches, bleached with sulphurous acid. In 1914 this quantity had increased to 64,000,000 pounds. Eight years is a long time in which to determine whether a poison is a poison, while the public during the interim without its knowledge, goes on eating the red corpuscle-destroying food.
The sulphur interests have been able to say to the United States Government "hands off." Through their influence at Washington they were able to keep the Referee Board in a state of silence.
In the meantime Dr. J. C. Olsen, 1911, through his experiments showed that sulphurous acid destroys the kidneys. April 21, 1913, I urged the New York Department of Health, which has unlimited powers, to feed twenty orphan children daily with the same kind of sulphur-bleached dried fruit that twenty million other children in the United States are asked to eat. I suggested that if at the end of one year these twenty orphans should be found to be the victims of sulphurous acid poisoning, the Health Department would have justification for exercising its vast powers in the discouragement of the sulphite industry, and would doubtless be absolved of all charges of cruelty for having made the experiment.
The suggestion was looked upon as "inhuman". The same timid souls who would not feed twenty orphans systematically with bleached fruits, were willing to stand by idle while twenty millions of other children were exposed to its perils.
The Government itself as far back as November 22, 1907, in circular No. 37, declared: "Sulphurous acid in the food produces serious disturbances of the metabolic functions. It adds an immense burden to the kidneys, which cannot result in anything but injury. It impoverishes the blood in respect to the number of red and white corpuscles. It is in every sense prejudicial to health."
Yet sulphurous acid is in greater use to-day than ever.
The Food and Drug Laboratory of the University of California has openly criticised the government for its failure to act.
In volume 13, Nos. 8 and 9 of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Bulletin, October, 1915, Dr. M. E. Jaffa frankly asserts: "Up to date there has not been offered a process (except sun-drying) which can take the place of sulphuring, but grapes intended for human consumption should not be subjected to sulphur fumes as successful drying can be practised without the use of sulphur.
"In the case of the apricot and peach the oxidation of the suiphurous compounds to sulphuric is slow. Samples of Thompson seedless grapes have been tested with the result that while the content of sulphurous acid was below the limit permitted by the government, the sulphuric acid approximated ten times as much. The same is true as regards the desiccated bleached potato.
"The fruit grower tries to produce in his output a high degree of color. If the consumer did not demand intensely yellow fruit there would be no sale for it. Fruit is coloured by the grower so as to get a higher price for his goods. The grower is willing to put on the market a less highly colored product if the consumer will use it."
In the meantime the people living in and around Salano County, California, produced evidence to show that the sulphurous acid or sulphur dioxide liberated by smelting plants not only destroys the vegetation of the surrounding country, but injures the health of man and beast.
So poisonous is the bleaching agent used in the dried fruit industry that the commission reporting to the Bureau of Mines on its investigation made between June, 1913, and September, 1914, declared that in the proportion of 35 parts to 1,000,000 parts of air it is harmful to man, and that even 2 parts of the poisonous gas in 1,000,000 parts of air applied for four hours at one time, or for ten minutes a day, had such an injurious effect upon plant life that it actually decreased the yield of barley studied during the investigation.
The lower courts enjoined the smelting company from doing further injury, and the Supreme Court, to which the case was carried, confirmed the order, yet the sulphuring of food goes on.
In the production of sulphured dried apples "apple waste" and "apple chops" are obtained as by-products.
The price of sulphured "chops" before the war ranged from 75 cents to $2 a bag of 100 pounds. They are used in the manufacture of cheap mince meat for bakers' use, and for the production of apple pie filler for the same purpose.
The price for "apple waste" before the war arranged from 60 cents to $1.25 a bag of 100 pounds. "Apple waste" is sold to jam and jelly manufacturers who boil it in a vat and then place the skins, cores and trimmings between filter cloths under a hydraulic press, to extract the juice.
This juice, with 60 percent glucose, 10 percent cane sugar, sufficient phosphoric acid to insure jellying quality, and coal tar color, with the aid of a chemical preservative, becomes a handsome mess. It is sold in 3-pound wooden pails through the grocery store, and in 30-pound wooden pails through the wholesale bakers' supply houses.
Let the housewife read the label. She will find there such phrases as "contains SO2," "contains sulphur dioxide," "bleached with sulphur," etc.
These same phrases will be found on the molasses barrels and the wooden boxes in which dried fruit is shipped in wholesale quantities.
The grocer does not transfer the illuminating phrase to the paper bags in which he retails the bleached product. The baker does not transfer it to the pie or cake in which it appears. The confectioner does not label his candy accordingly.
When the government demands the labelling of the product, the information is intended for the trade, and the consumer does not get it. But a committee of housewives can invade grocery store and bakery for the purpose of seeing for themselves what kind of labels appear on barrels, boxes, pails and jars, the contents of which are so fraudulently beautiful, so chemically false.
The investigation ordered by Commissioner of Immigration Caminetti into the Ellis Island scandal in 1912 disclosed the fact that the pies forced upon the immigrants were composed as far as the filler was concerned, of sweetened, sulphured "apple chops." The pies were not labelled.
Anhydrous sodium sulphite is used by butchers all over the country. I have traced tons of it into interstate commerce, and have caused the arrest of scores of butchers who secretly employed it to give a fiery red colour to their stale meats, particularly to hamburger steak made from trimmings.
In the old days the juice of the sugar cane was clarified and evaporated in open kettles set directly over the fire. The whole-some and delicious by-product was called molasses.
To-day the stuff called molasses is clarified by the use of sulphurous acid, which is subsequently neutralised by the addition of an alkali. In the process the fine flavour and aroma of the cane are greatly destroyed.
In some factories the acid is introduced as the fumes of burning sulphur, in others in the form of acid sulphite of lime. Part of this sulphurous acid is eventually oxidised to sulphuric acid.
As a result of the system now employed molasses contains little of the sugar of the cane, but it does contain enormous quantities of mineral scale, sulphates and sulphites. The wholesome and benevolent mineral salts of sugar cane as it comes from the field range in quantity up to 1 percent. The raw juice as expressed from the cane contains much less than 1 percent of these mineral salts, but so unnatural is the quantity of chemical neutralisers employed as refining agents that the finished molasses contains as much as 10 percent of useless mineral mud.
The food manufacturer takes the benevolent salts out of our food and then burdens it with enormous doses of minerals of a kind found in no food.
In the old days molasses was worthy of the name, but to-day, as we have seen, except for the inconsiderable quantities made by a few farmers for home use, open kettle molasses has disappeared from the market.
Open kettle molasses is really not molasses at all; it is cane syrup.
In November, 1917, the Penick & Ford Co., Ltd., of New Orleans, La., experimented with such cane syrup and produced some 40,000 gallons of an unjuggled product, free from sulphurous acid or any of its salts.
In order to obtain a high price for inferior molasses, its manufacturer always bleaches it and the broker is forced to bleach it again, by the addition of more sulphites. "Blanket" they call it in the trade.
The Penick & Ford Co., Ltd., was amazed to discover that instead of having to sell the unbleached product at a discount it actually commanded a premium.
Early in 1918 at 17 Battery Place, the company's New York office, I tasted samples of this old-fashioned pure syrup, rejoicing over its flavour, its body and its colour. There it stood, an eloquent rebuke to the miserable commercial sophistries that have debauched the molasses industry these many years.
Although technically such cane syrup is not molasses, it tastes like molasses, smells like molasses, looks like molasses and differs from molasses only in that it is incomparably better. It is merely the boiled down juice of the cane, from which none of the crystallisable sugars have been extracted.
Commercial molasses represents the liquid that remains after the extraction of the first, second and third crop of sugar and the addition of the chemicals necessary to the extraction, including sulphites.
The stuff known as "first molasses" contains what is left of the cane syrup after a single crop of crystallisable sugar has been extracted.
As a rule first molasses is "too good" to be sold to the retail grocer for distribution to the consumer, hence it is put through a second extracting process, which withdraws a second crop of sugar crystals. The robbed product is then called "second molasses," which contains very much less sugar and very much more mineral mud than "first molasses."
With an eye to business the molasses manufacturer takes this "second molasses" and again treats it to recover all the crystallisable sugar it will yield.
This product is known in the trade as "third molasses," the kind usually sold to confectioners and bakers.
The last product in the process of degeneration is called "black strap," the rank flavour of which must be diluted in the taffy factory and bake shops in order not to spoil the salable character of their finished luxuries.
"Black strap" is a thick, viscous, black mass containing 10 percent of inedible impurities consisting of gums, acids, amino compounds and other chemical residue, the conduct of which in the living bodies of children, when consumed regularly over a period of years, is utterly unknown to scientists.
Pure cane syrup or even "first molasses" free from sulphur dioxide would be cheap at any price, but the people cannot buy the former at all, and do not know where to seek the latter. Our grandmothers made us swallow sulphur and molasses in the spring. That sulphur was harmless. Sulphurous acid and sulphites are poisons.
We now know that the housewife who sacrifices food value for ornamentation indulges in perilous extravagance. When her wheat is devitalised and bleached with nitrites, the finished accomplishment is no longer flour.
The wondrously beautiful peacock is admired, but the flesh of the homely turkey is consumed.
Chalky white bread is demanded, but dusky devil cake does not shock.
The farmer never colours his wheat straw with coal tar green, but he asks that his manufactured jam be dyed a passionate red with gas house refuse. His butter, saturated with annatto or turmeric in a desperate effort to keep up appearances, has not the unassailable social standing of his white, creamy product.
The meat of the ox freshly slaughtered is brownish red, yet the butcher is encouraged to substitute a scarlet hue with sulphites, as if the poor beast had died of coal gas poisoning.
The breast muscles of birds that use their wings are dark. The white breast meat of the chicken is in a lingering state of degeneration, caused by the time-unhonoured atrophy of disuse. Lazy people who sit in rocking chairs would make poor stew for cannibals, although their flesh would become paler and paler, whiter and whiter the longer they rock before going to the caldron.
Coal is judged by its thermal heat units; food by its appearance. We do not recoil from the homely brunette prune or the little darky raisin, but we yelp for the bleached blonds of the fruit world. The eye is pleased with stained glass, gaudy beads, flashy trinkets, but the old-fashioned, sun-dried apple, rusty brown, and the old-fashioned sun-dried peach and apricot, lacking in skin beauty, possess food value and flavour incomparably superior to their chemically educated cousins. All reforms have to begin somewhere. There is no time like now to begin this one.
It never occurs to the average housewife that it is possible to use rotten eggs for baking purposes. She does not know that the putrefactive odours of the "spot" egg are volatilised in the heat of the oven, and driven off, leaving no trace perceptible to the sense of smell in the finished cake.
The baker is familiar with this phenomenon. I have caught many bakers in the act of using such eggs in the production of layer cake, sponge cake, and pound cake.
In one interstate conspiracy case tried in the Federal District Court, Trenton, N. J., before Justice Relstab, in which I was used as a witness by the Department of Justice, seven convicted men left the court room on their journey to the penitentiary. Their offence lay in the use of rotten eggs in the production of pound cake sold through the 5 and 10 cent stores of New York City, 40,000 pounds a day.
The quantity of rotten eggs available for baking purposes according to the Food Research Laboratory of the United States Department of Agriculture has a value of $50,000,000 annually. Armour & Company estimate the value at $90,000,000.
I have caught Armour & Company in the act of selling rotten eggs to bakers at 3 cents a dozen, a crime against human decency for which this institution suffered conviction, but for which, unlike the other culprits convicted in Trenton, it was not sent to the penitentiary, paying a fine instead.
During the fall every case of 30 dozen eggs shipped to the large cities yields an average of 18 eggs known as "crax," "dirties," "leakers," "rots and spots."
The "spot" is the result of the action of putrefactive bacteria. The "light spot" of yesterday is the "heavy spot" of to-day; the "heavy spot" of to-day is the "rot" of to-morrow.
The egg candler can see the contents of any egg and determine its exact character without breaking the shell.
The light and medium "spots" after candling are broken into 30-pound cans and delivered in the liquid state to bakers, or frozen for future use.
"Spot" eggs, when poured through a sieve of fine mesh like ordinary window screen, leave a mass of putrid clots on the screen. Fresh eggs or sweet storage eggs pass freely through the screen.
The "spot" collectors who prepare them for bakery use receive on an average $3.75 per can of thirty pounds, or $12 per hundred pounds. Tanners can use such eggs but bakers pay a premium of $5 a hundred pounds over the tanner price.
The good bacteria which appear in buttermilk and sauerkraut are not to be confused with the bad bacteria that produce putrefaction in eggs. Putrefactive bacteria produce toxic substances. In the baking process these bacteria are destroyed, but their dead bodies and the poisons produced by them prior to their death remain in the cake.
Instinctively the human family abhors putridity of any kind. God has given man a nose, placing it on sentinel duty as near the mouth as possible. The nose detects evidence of putrefaction and warns the mouth against it. In the rotten egg cake the putrefaction is disguised, masked, camouflaged, and the nose, designed only for honest operations, fails to penetrate the fraud.
The public has no suspicion of the magnitude of this unholy business. In the metropolitan district alone within a period of twenty-six months, 208 rotten egg bakers have been prosecuted and convicted. These prosecutions grew out of an intensive but wholly unconventional effort to check the abuse.
In rounding up the offenders I was endowed with authority by the mayor of Newark, the mayor of Jersey City, the health commissioner of Hoboken, the mayor of Mount Vernon and the health commissioner of New Rochelle. The police commissioner of Jersey City assigned eleven plain clothes men to help me and the New York Bureau of Municipal Research loaned me a score of assistants.
The disclosures of this little army of amateurs finally compelled the New York City Health Department and the Federal Government to act, with results that unfortunately are confined to one district of one state.
So few communities heed the rotten egg traffic that the men engaged in it actually defy detection.
In August, 1916, James Foust, Food Commissioner Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, appealed to William H. Wilson, Director of Public Safety, and Francis S. Brown, Attorney General, for help in an effort to control the rotten egg business of his state. He complained of the secrecy practised by the rotten egg industry, its round-about methods, and the extraordinary precaution exercised to avoid suspicion.
"We find it practically impossible," he admitted, "to prevent the use of rotten eggs in establishments where food products are prepared or manufactured, such as bakeshops and the like."
This pathetic confession of inability to control the rotten egg industry in Pennsylvania ought to prove illuminating and suggestive to other food officials as well as to those communities that fail to provide adequate inspection.
In the absence of efficient inspection the housewives themselves can make it impossible for any bakery to operate that does not invite day and night inspection by the consumer.
The American housewife who orders her household supplies by telephone knows nothing of what is going on behind the scenes, and she never will know until she sallies forth in person to do her own marketing, exercising vigilance of a kind she has not dreamed of for many years.
The sum total of so-called "harmless" frauds to which the confectioner and baker have been educated by manufacturers and wholesale supply houses during the last twenty years, is now so great that it promises, if not checked, to leave nothing genuine in the industries which thrive upon them.
Compounds of foodless character have one by one taken the place of the old-fashioned materials of known virtue. Their presence is successfully concealed behind flavours, fillers and dye stuffs.
Prizes have been awarded by the manufacturers of patented compounds for the greatest number and variety of cakes produced by a baker employing the patented articles with the least possible quantity of flour, eggs, butter and milk. The purpose of these contests is obviously to demonstrate that the more the baker develops into a scientist the less real food his product need contain.
All the following bakers' and confectioners' products are now on sale in barrels, pails, kegs, bottles and boxes in every city in the United States:
Piefiline Sa-Van-Egg Bleached Shellac Cakefiline Wizzola Avisol Frostine Yelco Nonparif Jellene Icene Creamthick Marshmallene Creamalene Chinese Albumen Nuttene Tartfilene Frozen Spots Doughnuttene Butteral No-Be Egolene Stearic Acid Nitrite Flour Aggola Powder Tallow Bleached Potato Starch Aigo Packing Stock Hydrogenated Oil Allenegg Butyric Acid Eggatine Butyric Ether Carpenters Glue Eggless Aluminum Sulphate Lamp Black Eggola Chocolate Brown Alkalised Casein No-Egg Chocolate Black Chops and Waste Amyl Acetate Velanearic Ether Carmine Amyl Buterate Metal Salicilate Vanillin Velanear Benzoic Acid Coumarin Acetic Ether Sodium Benzoate Naphthol Yellow S Benzoic Ether Sulphites Orange-I Formic Ether Sulphurous Acid Erythrosin Nitrous Ether Phosphoric Acid Ponceau Oenanthic Ether Citric Acid Amaranth -
Egg-Yellow alone, for instance, is so powerful that a pinch covering the point of the small blade of a pocket knife will make a pound cake look like the incarnation of six eggs where no eggs are present.
The same quantity will colour sufficient starch and glucose to make a filler for a half dozen lemon custard pies without the use of a single egg.
Trade circles deny their commodities are employed to conceal inferiority. This defence never stands when a zealous official prosecutes. There are no prosecutions.
In January, 1918, I located a number of bakers in New York and Brooklyn using as a shortening agent, in place of lard or butter, a product knows as S. W. Mineral Jelly, manufactured by the Valvoline Oil Company. This product physically and chemically resembled white vaseline, deodorised, but is manufactured by a concern that has no relationship with the vaseline industry.
Mineral jelly has its legitimate uses, but it is without food value. It is made from mineral oil. The odor and flavor of petroleum are removed.
Gasoline is the first product of mineral oil refinement, then kerosene, then the lighter oils, then the heavy oils known as machine oil and cylinder oil, then the heavy petroleum or crude petroleum. By distillation this product is converted into white mineral jelly.
Possibly in all tragedy there is an element of humour. There are times when the ludicrous saves us from breaking under the weight of ignorance and barbarism which curses our children. Asking for bread we are told to eat cake. Thinking we are eating a product containing butter, lard, margarine or vegetable fats we really consume without our knowledge, approval or consent the residuum of the gasoline industry.
Bakers who employ these wonderful substances employ them in secret. They are not proud of them. They do not advertise them. Yet, these same bakers claim a share of what we foolishly in America call civilisation.
Civilisation is not wealth, power, luxury, self-esteem; not social eminence, not flourishing art, not the culture of the saloon, not the tread of mighty armies, not the wash of turbined fleets, not the accomplishments of industry.
Civilisation is not a veneer. It radiates from the heart through flesh that feels all flesh its own. Its fruits are active solicitude for the distressed, the poor, the weak ones of society; chivalrous devotion to woman, reverence of motherhood, love of children, sympathy with youth, indulgence for the old, abhorrence of special privilege, intolerance of all things narrow, secret, unfair, unclean; hunger for truth, thirst for justice, zeal for the commonwealth, passion for true liberty, inspired by democratic consciousness of inalienable rights, but bound by an equally imperious reminder of obligations and duties, loathing license, hating religious bigotry, scorning racial prejudice.
Civilisation means readiness to sacrifice self for the unborn, even as the millions who have died on the Western front have sacrificed themselves.
Civilisation flows from faith in God.
Can we in America attain this ideal? Perhaps, if we begin with our duty to the child.
Our boys who have fought and died have attained it. They did not die for self. For them the world's lights were extinguished, the world's voices hushed, the world's hand withdrawn.
If the giving of their lives was worth while it was not worth while for self, for self ended in the giving. They went to slaughter not as cattle are driven from the pen to the killing bed, but with souls aflame.
They knew when that thing we call the "End" stalked up to them it had been misnamed. With blurred vision they recognised it as the Beginning. They knew they had souls. We know that, too.
How, then, shall we tolerate the soulless things through which, for the material profit of a few, our children crawl?
Next: 121. Labels and Standards
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