Ellen Henrietta Richards.

The cost of food: a study in dietaries online

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43-45 East Nineteenth Street, New York

Conservation by Sanitation.

Air and Water Supply; Disposal of Waste. {Includ-
ing a Laboratory Guide for Sanitary Engineer.]
8vo, xii + 305 pages. Illustrated. Cloth, $2.50.

Laboratory Notes on Industrial Water Analsrsis: A
Survey Course for Bnsrineers.
8^0, 62 pages. Cloth, 50c net.
The Cost of Cleanness.

12mo, V + 109 pages. Cloth. SI. GO.

The Cost of Livln|r as Modified by Sanitary Science.

Third Edition, Revised. 12mo. 164 pages. Cloth.
Air, Water, and Poodi From a Sanitary Standpoint.

By Ellen H. Richards and Alpheus G. Woodman,
Assistant Professor of Food Analysis. Massachusetts
Institute of Technology. Third Edition, Revised
and Enlarged. 8vo. 278 pages. Cloth. $2.00.
The Cost of Pood : A Study In Dietaries.
12mo» 161 pages. Cloth. $1.00.

The Dietary Computer.

By Ellen H. Richards, Instructor in Sanitary Chem-
istry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wtsisted
by Louise Harding Williams. $1.60 net. ramphlet
separately, $1.00 net.
The Cost of Shelter.

12mo. vi + 136 pages. Illustrated. Cloth. $1.00.

" Cost of Living '* Series.

1. Cost of Living. 2. Cost of Food. 3. Cost of
Shelter. 4. Cost of Cleanness. 12mo'. Cloth. 4
vols, in a box. $4.00.

Huntin||ton Chambers

The Chemistry of Cooking and Cleaning.

By Ellen H. Richards and S. Maria Elliott. 158
pages. Cloth. $1.00.
Pood Materials and their Adulterations.

183 pages. Cloth. $1.00.

Home Sanitation.

Revised Edition. Edited by Ellen H. Richards and

Marion Talbot. 86 pages. Paper. 25c.
Plain Words about Pood.

The Rumford Leaflets. Illustrated. 176 pagss.

Cloth. $1.00.
Plrst Lessons on Pood Diet.

52 pages. Cloth. 30c net.
The Art of Right-Living.

50 pages. Cloth. 60o net.

Sanitation in Dally Life.

82 pages. Cloth. 65c. net.

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Instructor in Sanitary Chemistry^
Massachusetts Institute o/ Technology,





London: CHAPMAN & HALL, Limited.


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/\ ^

Copyright, 1901,




Roaeirr drummond and company


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In reply to the many questions asked, the author
wishes to state here that because the cost of the accus-
tomed food of the average family has increased since
the book was written, and because the price of board in
restaurant and boarding-house has increased thirty per
cent or more, it does not follow that all food has so risen
in value. From the great variety and abimdance of
food materials offered to-day the purchaser may choose
sufficient and nourishing food, which need not cost more
than the prices given here. But it may not be just those
materials to which the palate has been accustomed.
Certain foods have gone out of fashion, com meal is used
very little, although in digestibility and palatability it out-
ranks most of the prepared cereals sold for ten times as
much per poimd.

The morning cream is a costly viand, but sugar is still
inexpensive. Butter may be had at a very litde if any
advance. It will not be "gilt edge,'' but it will be just
as wholesome and nutritious. Olive oil may be foimd

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at the Italian shops and many other foods may be pur-
chased of the less known dealers.

Therefore it is pretty certain that the cost of nutrition
has not advanced so much as the current opinion calls
for. It is true, however, that it requires time and atten-
tion and a modification of one's tastes to secure this
nutrition, and this modification is the most distasteful
exercise the ordinary person is called upon to imdergo.

Perhaps the most instructive comparison is that of
the cost of food at Valparaiso, Indiana, given on pages
128-130, of this volume, from data obtained by the
author during a personal inspection in 1892. It was
then $1.40 a week and room at 25 cents. Mr. George
Kennan in McClure for March, 1908, gives the costs
at $1.88 and fifty cents for room. This is in accord
with the general trend of things. External factors,
table linen, service, decoration, lights, furnishings — in
short, the refinements of living have increased the cost
of living, often doubling it, and just so far as these factors
come into play in the serving of food they increase the
cost of hoards but not necessarily the cost of the raw
material which is used.

It is advisable to add a certain amoimt of this cost
for the sake of refined living, but there is a limit to which
the efficiency of the individual is increased by this addi-

There is nothing in the discussion of costs which the
author wishes to "take back," and certain coqclusions

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are only confirmed by seven years' experience and ob-
servation. The study enjoined on page 13 is still needed,
and the question at the bottom of page 68 is still perti-
nent. Some recent books are listed at the end of the
Boston, March, 1908.

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I. Food a Necessity — Knowledge of Food-values a
Present-day Necessity— Kind. Quality, and Cgst

of Food I

II. Food for the Infant 15

III. Food for the School-child 29

IV. Food for the Active Youth 37

V. Food for the Youth at College and for the Brain-
worker 45

VI. Food for the Traveller and Professional Person 52

VII. Food for those in Penal and Pauper Institutions 60

VIII. Food for the Person in a Hospital 70

IX. Food for Middle Life and for Old Age 84

X. General Principles governing Dietaries 90

XI. Dietaries costing Ten to Fifteen Cents per Day per

Person 98

XII. Twenty-five Cents per Day per Person iii

XIII. Forty to Fifty. Cents per Day per Person 134

XIV. Sixty Cents per Day per Person 138

XV. The Dietary Computer 143

xVl. Food for Incipient Tuberculosis * 151

Glossary of Terms Used 155

Bibliography, Selected 159

Recent Books on Food and Nutrition 163

Index 165


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"The physiological principle of the preparation of food is
summed up in the postulate that it shall produce the highest
efficiency in the individual and the race." — ^Thudichum.

The food-supply is the controlling factor in all life,
vegetable, animal, or human. In proportion as suit-
able food is abundant, so thrives the living thing be-
cause of the ease with which it satisfies its appetite.
In the case of human food this ease is expressed in
terms of money. Abundance means comparatively
little cost of any article, so that it may be easily ob-
tained by numbers of people. Therefore in presence
of abundant food-supply prosperous communities are
found. The plant must grow at the spot indicated
by the presence of its food. The animal may range
forest and plain in search of it. Early man did the
same, and peoples grew strong where space for pas-

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?'•'•. : :•' : yl' .' ': : xK^X^OSt of food

turage or fertility of soil gave opportunity for herds
and crops.

Nineteenth-century man, by his development of
means of quick transportation of foodstuffs from
all quarters of the globe to any desired spot, has
changed the problem so entirely that the small cost
of any food material no longer depends upon its
production in situ by the community which is to con-
sume it, but only upon its transportable character.

Wheat flour is cheap simply because it can be pre-
pared in quantity on the spot where it is grown, and
kept in storage or carried around the world without
appreciable deterioration. Fresh fruits are dear be-
cause they will not endure this handling and storage.
They must be desiccated or preserved. This reason
for cost is so often overlooked that it is worth while
to emphasize it at the outset. The errors in buying
food-supplies have their root in the mistaken notion
that whatever is obtained at small relative expense
is common and unclean; that the use of such food
is a mark of plebeian tastes and leads to very low
mental development. As a matter of fact the cost
of food is no measure of its nutritive value.
'' Cheap " food is that which has required little cap-
ital or labor to produce.

Formerly each race adapted itself to its environ-
ment and trained its digestion in accordance with
the available diet. In great measure the races of

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earlier ages were modified by the possibilities of food
in the lands to which they migrated. The influence
of food upon character has yet to be adequately
studied and discussed.

In America to-day, the situation which confronts
us, whether working man, student, or milHonaire,
is not how to get food enough, but how to choose
from the bewildering variety offered that which will
best develop the powers of the human being and
make him efficient, and, what is of greater impor-
tance, how to avoid that tempting variety, indulgence
in which weakens the moral fibre and lessens mental
as well as physical efficiency. So long as it is the
popular belief that brilliancy of mind or position is
chiefly due to luxurious food, served with the dis-
guises of the chefs art,. so long will the aspiring poli-
tician and novel-writer change from one boarding-
house to another in search of variety, and children
will continue to demand the luxuries of the table un-

In spite of all preaching, few really believe that
plain living goes with high thinking. Most, either
consciously or unconsciously, attribute American
versatility and success to the richness and variety of
food so easily obtained. Neither moralist nor sani-
tarian has begun to ask whether the increase of
crime, of insanity, of certain forms of disease, of
moral recklessness, is not attributable to the debili-

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tating effects of the food set before us, to the lower-
ing of ideals of living so well exemplified in the details
of the fashionable table.

In the case of plants, the importance of nutrition
to the organism has long been recognized. The
gardener produces leaf or blossom at will, and even
changes color and form, by the substances he fur-
nishes to the growing plant.

The American farmer and wage-earner thinks he
has made a great advance when he can say, "We keep
help now and my wife and daughter can sit in rock-
ing-chairs and read novels," but with the leisure and
lack of interesting occupations comes the habit of
nibbling sweets with the novels, the perverted taste
in food as well as literature. The g^rls have more food
and less work than is good for them, with the logical
biological result that grandchildren fail. It is not
over-education but over-nutrition which threatens
race extinction. To quote Prof. Patten :* "Formerly
the underfed failed to survive; now it is the overfed
among whom the elimination is taking place. The
ideal of health is to obtain complete nutrition. Over-
nutrition, as well as under-nutrition, weakens the
body and subjects it to evils that make it incapable
of survival. The plethora of food now enjoyed in-
duces men to eat and drink more than their systems
can stand. . . . Must we look among women for the

* " Development of English Thought," pp. 379-387*

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best examples of over-feeding? ... It is said that
all female animals become barren when overfed. . . .
Cheap food and a sugar diet, therefore, make the
conditions out of which the thought movement of
the present epoch will proceed."

Man has a wide range of activities, and because he
does not see the separate result of any one, he is
not sensitive to its effect. Man, also, has great
adaptability, and abuses it by too sudden changes.
Desire for food is one of the fundamental race in-
stincts, and in pre-scientific days was supposed to
take care of itself under all circumstances. Even
now it is usually assumed to be a safe guide in food if
not in drink. A distinguished physician has recently
said : *

" This splendid instinct — appetite — so necessary
for our existence — especially in early times — has
now more than ever to meet with sudden modifica-
tions resulting from the complexity of modern life.
While primarily responsible for the discovery of in-
numerable aliments, the very abundance in this gen-
eration, both in quantity and variety, is embarrassing,
and we find the results of unneces^ry and artificial
stimulation in the unnatural desires for food. The
lack of attention as to the appropriateness of food
subjects not only the digestive apparatus but all the
cells of the individual organism to distress and not

♦ Dr. Charles G. Stockton. " Hygiene."


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infrequently to disease. In this matter the problem
to be solved is, first, how to train the appetite into
natural and wholesome paths, and, second, how to
live so that by means of proper physical, mental, and
moral activity there may be successfully oxidized
the kind and quantity of nutriment required in nor-
mal life, and that there may be successfully discharged
the waste products that result from the oxida-
tion. . . .

'' It is unsafe to trust the individual to the guid-
ance of the appetite alone, for the reason that this
instinct was built up for a condition of existence
very different from that which enables the people of
this country to indulge themselves to-day/'

It is also true that appetite can be educated, di-
' rected, like any other habit, but it is still a common
superstition that likings for food are inborn traits.

It seems to be most difficult to inculcate the prin-
ciples of right living in the face of this superstition,
especially in the face of the intense individualization
so widely taught — namely, that each person is a law
unto himself. Respect for natural laws, obedience
to the fixed principles which govern all living or-
ganisms in order that freedom of activity may result,
is most unwelcome teaching. The bearing of this
attitude upon habits of life and cost qi living is very
evident. Every effort to inculcate saner ideals is
met with scoffing, with unproven assertions, and

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with a demami for freedom and unrestrained choice
as a mark of American Hberty. Men have yet to
learn that " independence cannot with safety be
made to apply to their relations with nature.'*

Scientific sociology must take account of these be-
liefs and tendencies and inaugurate a series of studies
of existing conditions and a controlling series of ex-
periments before any definite conclusion can be
reached. The following suggestions are given for
the purpose of indicating lines in which such studies
and experiments are desirable.

It is freely acknowledged that many of the state-
ments have no basis of mathematical proof — only a
foundation in observation of years and of a some-
what wide range of conditions. If they can be scien-
tifically refuted, well and good. But, if they are
true, thoughtful young men and women will do well
to take heed to their ways before it is too late.
Cost of food is a result of several factors.

Seed — a bushel of potatoes or corn withdrawn

from consumption;
Rent for ground to grow the plant or graze

the animal;
Fertilizer to renew the productive power of

the soil;
Labor to plough,. plant, cultivate, gather; or

to feed, water, and keep clean the animal;
Machinery — utensils, wear, and tear;

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Interest on capital invested — building and

Waste due to rainy or dry seasons, to disease

of both plant and animal;
Preparation for market; mismanagement of

raiser, packer, transporter, distributer ;
Inevitable loss in dressing for the table, un-
eatable parts;
Indigestible portions, natural or produced by

cooking, which must yet be paid for ;
Preparation for the table; cost in labor and
time, and waste in digestion, natural and
due to wrong choice.
If once the public can disabuse its mind of any
idea of close connection between " food value '* and
cost — namely, that a cheap food is a poor food,
that a dear food is a good food — then a beginning
in scientific dietaries can be made. The cost of a food
depends upon how many of these factors enter into
its history before it is placed on the table.

Pudding costs more than oat-meal mush because
of the greater length of time required in preparation ;
because skilled labor is necessary for the preparation
and transportation of the ingredients.

The excessive cost of board to-day is due to many
other things besides the cost of raw materials. When
a man pays $io a week for " table-board *' he pays
for fragile china, neat aprons and caps for the maid.

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time Oi the cook in garnishing, choice of dishes, etc.,
etc., so that the raw material he consumes forms
barely one-third the total cost.

The cost of food is not only its money cost, it is
the cost to the body to appropriate it which must be

Man is an adaptable animal, but he often abuses
his power by asking for its use too often and by
making too sudden changes. He can live on the
most diverse kinds of food as he can drink the softest
or the hardest water, if he has been brought up to
it, but sudden changes are apt to be disastrous.

A man treats his stomach as if it were a thing
apart from himself — an inanimate machine and a
very simple one at that, not likely to get out of re-
pair. Engineers know how to get the best work
out of their engines, and they have learned that it
pays to take care of the machine. Man's digestive
apparatus is more delicate and complicated than any
machine, and yet he treats it with indifference, neg-
lect, and even contempt. He runs it without trying
to understand it, and blames everything but himself
if it gives out. In pioneer days circumstances were
the stern teachers of wisdom, but now temptations
to indulgence are on every street-corner and at
every family table. Men go on as if they were made
of cast iron, as if by mere will power they could make
poisons into food.

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To a watcher of events it is maddening to see the
crowd rushing on to destruction, not seeing the
precipice and not believing any warnings, attributing
the disappearance of friend after friend to any but
the right cause.

When a man drops dead in the street his friends
say. Oh, he has been living at high pressure; he
has had many business cares; he has tried to do too
much; he inherited that tendency. They never
say. He was so careless or foolish or foolhardy in
his eating. The family physician does not dare to
prescribe diet, he knows it is a too unwelcome sub-
ject; he can only send the man away from part of
the temptation on a sea-voyage.

There are none so blind as those who wilfully shut
their eyes, and in all food matters we are wilfully
blind. The day of reckoning will come, however.

In the interest of the race, of its mental as well as
physical development, there is no subject which
should occupy the attention of educators comparable
with that of food and its influence on human prog-

If, as in some other things, there were an alterna-
tive, it would not so much matter, but nature has not
provided a substitute for food. Nothing can take
its place. It is a condition of Hfe, and right food is
an essential of efficient living.

This being an indisputable fact, it seems strange

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that all discussion of it is tabooed in educational cir-
cles; and still more strange is it that teachers, of all
persons, are the most careless and reckless in mat-
ters of diet. The very people who would profit most
by right habits of living seem most oblivious of the
fundamental principles.

It is therefore hopeless to expect to impress the
pupils through the teachers, hence outside influence
must be brought to bear on both. Naturally it
should come through the parents, the mother chiefly,
while the children are young, but the father who
mingles with his fellows and sees more of life should
watch for his share in the general training along
progressive lines.

It has become too much the fashion to allow
children a greater range of electives in food than in
studies, to set before them a bewildering variety
and applaud rather than disapprove a whimsical

So much has been done in the way of popularizing
knowledge that persons are not willing- to do any
thinking for themselves. If a new word appears in
the daily paper, it must be explained by a synonym
of easy comprehension. If a scientific fact is an-
nounced, it must be couched in terms of every-day

Mental laziness has come to be a distinct charac-
teristic of the mass of the people who have been

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taught facts or supposed facts without having had to
think for themselves. Hence it happens that when

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Online LibraryEllen Henrietta RichardsThe cost of food: a study in dietaries → online text (page 1 of 13)