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Tables 1 of the relative value of foods will guide a wise housekeeper in her selection.
Another instance of the disinclination to think is seen in the multiplication of cook books which give recipes rather than principles upon which variations may be made.
The modern housewife seems helpless before a new material, utterly at a loss how to combine old materials into new dishes, and therefore wastes good food.
However, the agitation of the subject of diet in its relation to health is calling attention to the importance of so vital an element in human existence, and much progress may be looked for in the immediate future.
Undoubtedly it will need two generations of sound teaching before bad habits in eating and drinking will be conquered and sane, sensible methods be common.
Of all the dangers to health from eating, that of unclean food leads all the rest. This uncleanness is due to unsanitary production, feeding, and transportation of animals ; careless use of fertilizer on vegetables ; cold storage under bad conditions, both in bulk and in domestic refrigerators; exposure to street dust; and cooking and serving in unclean vessels.
These conditions result not only in actual disease, but in lowered vitality and lessened work power. Probably not more than twenty-five per cent of the inhabitants of any community are doing a full day's work, such as they would be capable of if they were in perfect health. This adds to the length of the school
1 Bulletin 28, United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Experiment Station.
course, to the cost of production in all directions, to increased taxation, to decreased interest in life. Therefore we say that the safety of food materials lies mainly in the cleanly ways in which they are gathered, kept, and prepared for the table.
For instance, berries may be picked by dirty hands, exposed on dirty sidewalks, covered with dust from the streets, served without suitable picking over and washing. Ice
Ice may be cut from polluted water, dragged over sputum-covered sidewalks, and put into the ice box unwashed.
In every direction careless handling of substances used in connection with food seems to have increased, and this in spite of the public dissemination of the germ theory of diseases.
The watchword of every householder should be clean, clean, CLEAN, chemically and bacterially clean.
As usual, public attention is aroused to the various concomitant evils without touching the core of the whole matter - personal efficiency through good food habits.
It is well, of course, to stop all the little leaks, but the waste at the bung hole should not be neglected. The renewed excitement in regard to food may be turned to good account in showing the essential value of food to the individual and to the community.
WATER, TEA, COFFEE, COCOA
the quality of the water drunk. It may even be considered as a food, for there is at least a probability that its office in the system is more than that of a regulator of temperature and a diluent of the blood. From a sanitary point of view, next in importance to the quality of the water used is that of the other liquids which are more and more frequently substituted for it, namely, tea, coffee, and cocoa. Beer and wine are neither foods nor necessary beverages in this land of good water and cheap coffee, hence they are not here considered.
By far the largest quantity of any one thing taken into the system through the mouth is water.
The average person drinks whatever is most convenient, yet only in the large cities with a carefully guarded water supply is this safe. In the country nine-tenths of the wells are more or less contaminated and are growing
It is past comprehension that men with some knowledge of soil drainage and water flow should place a well close by the cesspool and kitchen sink and expect it to keep sweet and clean.
Even women with no especial training should have reason enough to know that slops thrown close to the mouth of the well disappear into the ground and must find their way to the water. It seems to be assumed that all clear, cold water comes from a great depth and is therefore pure. Only in the case of driven wells, where a small pipe is driven down to a known distance, or in the case of the true artesian wells, which deliver water in great force without pumping, is this true. The ordinary shallow well, thirty feet or so deep, is usually fed, in whole or in part, from near-by sources and is always an object of suspicion. Such water, unless tested by a reliable expert, should be boiled before drinking, as should water taken from rivers and small streams.
Protection is best secured by cooperation and the introduction of a safe supply for the community, instead of each one depending on his own well or cistern. These are often sources of danger.
But the housewife will ask, “ Is not the use of filters better than depending on boiled water ?” A coarse filter will take out coarse material such as comes from heavy rains, from growths of alge, from rusting pipes, etc, but it requires porous porcelain or sandstone to take out excessively fine material such as bacteria. This means very slow action and soon a clogged surface. Rapid filters are all merely strainers. A flannel bag tied on the faucet and washed every day will serve for this as well as any expensive mechanical device. The bone black filters will take out color, but color is not the dangerous factor, and the water is rendered harder by the lime phosphate. All strainers collect the insoluble material that they remove and should be thoroughly cleaned, else they are worse than nothing. All true filters act slowly and deliver a small quantity in an hour.
It is worth noting that the New Hampshire State Board of Health in its July Bulletin, 1906, gives an illustration of a household filter, with full directions for construction and use, which has considerable merit; but, like all good things, “it demands intelligent supervision, and the occasional attention prompted by a proper understanding of what it is and what it ought to do from day to day.”
The author wishes to impress upon her readers, even to their weariness, that the best things are not obtained by machinery. Very few things are really automatic. Somewhere there must be a mind in control, a watchful eye to see the beginnings of failure to work. Let the housekeeper once again learn the pleasure of power over things, of knowledge of constituents and durability, feel once more the delight of invention, and see the work of her mind as well as of her hands grow before her eyes.
A serious danger to the public lies in impure wells on dairy farms. Milk cans washed in foul water have often been a source of disease. On the other hand, the practice of using the well as an ice box cannot be too strongly reprehended.
The first essential in establishing a new home is, then, clean, safe water. The services of an expert must be secured if there is doubt. Towns and villages are