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Political economists are beginning to take up this subject, for they see that the ultimate welfare of the country depends upon securing the maximum of utility for the money spent. The money's worth must be obtained from both material and labor. The law of utility requires an adequate return for the value consumed. A loaf of bread eaten by a farm hand returns more than its value in the produce of that man's labor ; so it should be with all labor, whether mechanical or literary. A loaf of bread allowed to mold brings no return in wheat or in useful thought, and it is therefore wasted — so much value thrown away. So, too, if a family consume at one meal three times as much food as is needed to keep them in perfect health, the excess is wasted, and sometimes worse, in that it causes disease. Not that a family which can afford beef should live on corn meal, but that if the food is not wisely used for pleasure or nourishment it is wasted.
It is believed by many that instruction in the fundamental laws of hygiene and of efficient living should begin in the elementary school and continue through and beyond the college.
The following statement was unanimously adopted as the sentiment of the Lake Placid Conference in
“ The Lake Placid Conference on Home Economics considers that the time has come when subjects related to the home and its interests should have larger recognition in our colleges and universities.
1 Proceedings of Lake Placid Conference on Home Economics, 1904.
Recognizing the fact that there is a strong and steadily increasing demand for knowledge of these subjects, believing that their educational possibilities are not inferior to those of other subjects now in the curriculum, and that instruction in these branches promotes in a high degree individual and social efficiency, we earnestly request that the heads of our higher institutions consider the advisability of introducing such work. This may be done either by the establishment of new departments or by the extension of courses already offered.
“History, sociology, and economics deal with fundamental problems of the family and the home. Biology, chemistry, and physics have important applications in the household. This has been already recognized to some extent by leading universities, and their curriculums include such
The Family,' The Citizen or Householder,' The Evolution of the House,' Sanitary Chemistry,' Food and Nutrition,' Bacteriology,' besides work in sanitation, physiology, and hygiene.
“ The members of this conference believe that an extension of such work where it is already established and its introduction in other institutions would contribute to the solution of some of the most important social problems of today.”
One of the most puzzling problems which a modern housewife has to solve is to learn the quality of the various food materials which she provides for the use of the family, and to know how to apportion them. So much has been said on the subject of adulteration
in the past few years that the peace of mind of a conscientious woman is quite gone.
A government report on baking powder, made some years ago, argues that the “housewife surely deserves protection against swindling as much as the farmer (for whom the government will make analyses of fertilizers), and she has no better means of ascertaining the strength and quality of the baking powder she buys than the farmer has for the strength of his fertilizer. The verity and accuracy of the analysis stated on the label should be insured, as in the case of the fertilizer, by its being performed by a sworn analyst. If such a regulation were enforced, people would soon inform themselves of the respective merits of the different varieties, and the further requirements of a certain standard of strength, as suggested by Professor Cornwall, would probably be unnecessary, as they would learn to interpret the analysis, and a powder made up of fifty per cent of starch, for instance, would have to be sold cheaper than one made with ten per cent, or not sold at all.” 1
Reference is made several times in these pages to the sources of reliable information, and here emphasis is laid on the fact that many of the alarming statements, so disquieting to anxious mothers, are inserted in the circulars sown broadcast and in newspaper advertisements by one manufacturer to decry another's product and to promote the sale of his own. Sometimes these are not exactly falsehoods, but they may easily be interpreted in a false way.
i Quoted in Bulletin of the Kansas State Board of Health, March, 1905.
If the buyer used a little of that thinking power for which we have been pleading he or she would not be deceived. The boldness with which misleading statements are printed leads to the inevitable conviction that buyers will not take the trouble to think or to find out from the city and state authorities what is true. Instead of taking the sensible course the average woman believes every sensational article that she reads, and does almost as much harm to her family by avoiding a good article as by purchasing an inferior one.
The unanimous testimony of all chemists who have carefully investigated the extent to which adulteration of food is carried on in the United States is that, while there exists adulteration injurious to health, there is a much greater injury to the morals of the community and loss to the pockets of the people. In other words, the point to which public attention should be mainly directed is the question of paying a high price for an inferior article. In some portions of the country ground gypsum — at perhaps a cent a pound — is sold for cream of tartar at ten cents a quarter of a pound. Now this fraud can be detected by any one who knows that cream of tartar is soluble in hot water, while
gypsum is not. A cupful of boiling water poured upon half a teaspoonful of good cream of tartar will dissolve it almost instantly, giving a nearly transparent liquid.
In these days of wandering attention “scare heads” alone fix themselves on the public mind. So it has come about that the word “adulteration” looms large in the estimation of even thoughtful persons, who pass by the really important matter of nutritive value and of combination. Yet the number of deaths caused by adulteration is infinitesimal compared with the number caused by auto-infection (from diseases arising within the body) and by personal indiscretion in diet.
If the present interest in the misdemeanors of the manufacturers shall focus attention on the importance of food to human welfare it will have served a good purpose.
A long acquaintance with the markets of the country in the East and West, North and South, leads the author to the estimate that not over two per cent of the total weight of the food sold in shops and markets is adulterated, and that not more than an additional three per cent is sophisticated - that is, lowered in commercial value by a cheaper ingredient.
What proportion of the whole bulk of the family food is made up by the few ounces of spices, condiments, and fruit essence ? What if the color of the occasional pink tea or green dinner is aniline dye ! One-sixteenth of an ounce is probably a large estimate of the amount used by any one person in a year.
The extra twenty per cent of starch in a box of baking powder, if a family uses ten pounds a year, levies a tax of only sixty to eighty cents, or twelve to sixteen cents a person. How many times that amount do all today waste on candy and soda? The damage to health by the injudicious drinking of soda and various “bottled beverages” is many times that caused by all the preservatives used in food.
It is, however, true that “the use of preservatives, usually salicylic acid or benzoate of soda, is very com