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only semi-nutritious article now in vogue among the poor is stated to be of such efficiency as food that a shillingsworth of it will provide an ample meal for nine grown-up persons. Nothing is discarded in preparation of the wheat meal except the innutritious outmost skin of the grain. The five layers of cells containing the valuable mineral matters before named are all retained.
Next, as to its digestibility. Wheat-meal bread, in common with whole-meal bread, contains not only all the elements necessary for nutrition, but also“ cerealine,' a substance which operates as a ferment, promoting digestion. Dr. H. C. Bartlett tells us that within the cellular formation of these skins (or layers) a curious fermentative, albuminous principle is found, which in itself not only affords a most valuable nutritive quality, but has also the effect of rendering the flour of the kernel more easy of conversion into a digestible condition, and materially assists in a rude panification, or bread-making, which, however primitive, affords strong and healthy food staple.' The superior digestibility, however, of wheat-meal bread over other wholemeal bread depends upon two further characteristics special to itself:
- 1st, its freedom from the hard, objectionable, and useless outer skin; 2nd, the fineness to which the meal composing it is ground. These two characteristics distinguish it from all other brown breads made in England, and insure its complete wholesomeness. In ordinary brown bread, as in whole-meal bread, there exist split chaff, awns, and other bristly processes, besides, in some cases, débris of various kinds, and bran-flakes. These matters are what cause the unsuitability of such bread for the ordinary diet of the majority. Wheat-meal bread is made from meal freed from these irritants; the grain having been subjected to a process of scraping, called decortication, before being ground.
The other result—the fineness of the ground meal-is obtained by the use of suitable steel mills. Only in a steel mill is the fine grinding of the harder parts of the grain possible without damage to the quality of the grain. Ground in the ordinary way between stones, the branny portions of the grain are necessarily delivered in those large, angular flakes which are the cause of the irritating and indigestible properties alike of common and of whole-meal brown bread. By the use of a well-adapted steel mill the grain is cut or chopped into minute fragments of a granular form. Besides avoiding the evil just noted, this process has a further advantage—the nutritive properties of the grain so treated undergo none of the deterioration which always accompanies the fine crushing of meal between stones. Such fine crushing develops much heat; which heat, in technical
I We have even heard of several instances in which housekeepers have been in the habit of buying the grain whole, and grinding it at home for bread-making in an ordinary coffee-mill. But a steel mill it must be.
phrase, 'kills the quality of the meal, so that it is impossible to make really light bread from it.
Besides this fine, steel-mill grinding, it is especially important that the meal be passed through an 18-mesh sieve, as further security against the retention of any large or angular particles. What will not pass the first time should then be re-ground. This simple but perfect process completely remedies the irritating quality of the meal.
Miss Yates, the earliest agitator in the matter, observed two years ago, when travelling in Sicily, that the labouring classes there live healthily, and work well upon a vegetable diet, the staple article of which is bread made of well-ground wheat-meal. Nor are the Sicilians by any means the only people so supported. “The Hindoos of the North-western Province can walk fifty or sixty miles a day with no other food than “chapatties” made of the whole meal, with a little " ghee” or Galam butter.' Turkish and Arab porters, capable of carrying burdens of from 400 to 600 pounds, live on bread only, with the occasional addition of fruit and vegetables. The Spartans and Romans of old time lived their vigorous lives on bread made of wheaten meal. In northern as well as southern climates we find the same thing. In Russia, Sweden, Scotland, and elsewhere, the poor live chiefly on bread, always made from some whole meal-wheat, oats, or rye—and the peasantry of whatever climate, so fed, always compare favourably with our South English poor, who, in conditions of indigence precluding them from obtaining sufficient meat-food, starve, if not to death, at least into sickliness, on the white bread it is our modern English habit to prefer.
White bread alone will not support animal life. Bread made of the whole grain will. The experiment has been tried in France by Magendie. Dogs were the subjects of the trial, and every care was taken to equalise all the other conditions—to proportion the quantity of food given in each case to the weight of the animal experimented upon, and so forth. The result was sufficiently marked. At the end of forty days the dogs fed solely on white bread died. The dogs fed on bread made of the whole grain remained vigorous, healthy, and well nourished. Whether an originally healthy human being, if fed solely on white bread for forty days, would likewise die at the end of that time, remains, of course, a question. The tenacity of life exhibited by Magendie's dogs will not evidently bear comparison with that of the (scarcely yet forgotten) forty days' wonder, Dr. Tanner. Nor is it by any means asserted that any given man
? . The yeomen of Elizabeth's reign who drew their bowstrings to their ears and sent a cloth-yard shaft whistling through a barn door at eighty yards, ate meat about once a week, and lived the rest of the time on who meal bread and cheese.'- Pall Mall Gazette.
any given child would certainly remain in vigorous health for an indefinite length of time if fed solely on wheat-meal bread.
Not a single piece of strong evidence has been produced, however, to show that he would not; and in the only case in which whole-meal bread has been tried with any persistency or on any considerable scale among us—to wit, in gaols—facts go to show such bread to be an excellent and wholesome substitute for more costly forms of nutritious food.
Still, it is not a bread diet, as compared with a mixed diet of bread and other nourishing things, that we are here considering, or that the League is advocating. The comparison lies between a diet consisting mainly of white bread and one consisting mainly of wheatmeal bread.
For here lies the only choice in the case of a large number of our countrymen. The poor who inhabit the crowded alleys of our English cities cannot afford good milk, meat, or eggs. They must live principally on bread. And, whether they know it or not, the question comes near to being a matter of life or death to them, what manner of bread it is they eat. Meanwhile, their wan, stunted children, frequent deformity, and early toothlessness witness directly to hardship in the particular form of deficient bone nourishment. In the interests of such, and on the part of those who concern themselves in their life-struggles, the question deserves consideration-Can we, or can we not, expect human beings to live in health and to work can we, or can we not, expect children to grow and to develop properly -upon
diet that starves a dog ? The innutrition which causes a dog fed only on white bread to die in six weeks must go some way towards killing a human being, similarly fed, in the same period. For canine life is not so fundamentally unlike human life in the matter of physical requirement that we can rationally expect an identical condition of food to issue in two such opposite effects as death in the one case, and unimpaired vitality in the other.
But not only do bones and teeth indubitably suffer if the mineral matters needed to form them be wanting in the food taken ;. the nerves and brain suffer likewise. This is to say that the character suffers; the whole universe is at each moment differently presented to consciousness; the whole experience of an individual is from moment to moment hurtfully modified, and reacts in proportionally degenerate tastes, feelings, and conduct, if the conditions of nervelife be unfavourable. “No phosphorus, no thought,' said a celebrated German; and, barshly materialistic as the saying appears, there is no escaping that fact of which it is a one-sided expression. Phosphorus is not a synonym for thought--is not thought; nor does thought depend only on phosphorus in the brain for its existence; but thinking does depend in various ways on the healthy condition of the nervous system ; and the condition of the nervous system is healthiest when it can absorb a certain due measure of phosphorus. And where no phosphorus is supplied, the brain ceases activity entirely. Thought in our estimation will be degraded, or phosphorus elevated, by this indirect relationship, according to the view we take of one or the other; according, that is, to whether our habitual conception of things is such that thought seems to have the dignity of mystery taken out of it, or whether phosphorus seems to have the dignity of mystery put into it, by the roundabout connection between the two. For my own part, vividly realising the supreme office of thought in the human world—nay, recognising in thought the awakening of this unfathomable universe to a sense of its own being—I cannot conceive of its degradation through any association whatever. On the contrary, association with thought (for me) takes all the prose, all the commonplaceness, all the lifelessness out of that easily syllabled but evasive matter, concerning which, unspiritually accepting the senses as sole masters of the situation, we commonly cheat ourselves by speaking so knowingly. Such association, more deeply considered, should immeasurably enhance the value, interest, and wonder of any and every simpler condition, constituent, and process that contributes, in whatever manner or degree, to the support of consciousness. But, metaphysics apart, the stubborn truth remains. An ill-nourished brain cannot perform its functions efficiently; and its possessor is for the time being so much the less a thinking being. I cannot at this moment, for instance, be thinking that phosphorus is a mean thing (and the bread-reform agitation 'a storm in a tea-cup'); but by the help of that mean thing itself, taken into my nervous system in my food (e.g. in the wheat-meal bread I ate an hour ago) thus to enable me to decry its dignity. Bread-reformers contend that the cheapest way of getting possession of the phosphates our bones and brains thus ask for in spite of us, is to get them in the shape of the best bread we can make-bread which contains them in due and digestible proportions, and which is palatable enough to be accepted, and eventually preferred by all who have once seen its other merits.
At this point a chemical objector puts in the remark—Granted that all the essential constituents of food, all the materials required for building up human bodies, are present in wheat-meal, it yet remains open to question whether they are present in the right condition for assimilation. We are rightly reminded that it is not enough that bread should be made of the right stuff, but that it should, further, be the right stuff in the right state. Dr. Gilbert, whose letter I have already quoted above, remarks that only “from twothirds to three-fourths [of the nitrogenous matters in the commonly excluded parts of the meal] exist in the albuminoid condition; and it is as yet not settled whether or in what degree the non-albuminoid nitrogenous bodies are of nutritive value.' Further, that it is quite a question whether (in bread prepared as the League endeavours to prepare it) the excess of earthy phosphates would not be
injurious.' Dr. Gilbert does not advance any data to support this misgiving, while he frankly admits that everything is not yet known concerning the chemistry of organic processes. The only arguments in opposition to the attempted reform which we have met with are in this tone of vague demurrer; à priori misgivings are made to do duty in absence of observed results disfavouring the reform. Meanwhile, all authorities on food and diet are unanimous in its favour. It is chemists alone who treat its desirability as an open question. But a question of physiology cannot fitly be judged from a merely chemical point of view. The facts of life must be taken in evidence, not merely the suggestions of the laboratory. And, in reply to the supposition of Dr. Gilbert respecting earthy phosphates,’it may be here repeated that in Government institutions where a whole-meal bread has long been used, no injuries from these hypothetical mineral concretions have been experienced.
Meanwhile, it is not a question,' but a fact, that rickets, decay and crumbling of teeth, and the flagging vitality (which so constantly results in excessive demand for alcoholic stimulant) are prevalent exactly when and where, on the bread-reformers' theory, we should expect to find them so. It is remarkable that the dental profession, with its large manufacturing interest, has sprung into existence only since the bread in common use has been deprived of lime and phosphatic salts.
It is, indeed, suggested that there are other ways of rendering bread fully nutritious than by utilising the whole meal in its preparation. In America the plan has been tried of adding phosphoric acid to the white flour. Dr. Graham suggests the introduction of precipitated bone phosphate, and salt. But the substitution of any sucb artificial mixtures for Nature's own, must necessarily complicate the process of bread-making; besides rendering it more expensive. Added to which, artificial combinations have never the dietetic excellence of natural ones. A writer in the Lancet expresses his conviction that no artificial combinations of the supposed elements of a normal whole meal in arbitrary relations can compare with the natural food of man.' The same writer proceeds to say :
There should not be any persistent obstacle to the supply of the complete flour required for making economic bread. The clumsy mills in use will not probably do the work required of them, but it cannot be impossible to devise a crushing apparatus that shall answer the purpose. In fact, there are many such employed in the trituration of other substances. The people will be only too glad to get
* There may seem at first sight some inconsistency in the joint insistance in the text: first, that the whole-meal breads in use now, and formerly in various parts of the world, are satisfactory food; and, secondly, that hitherto the modes of milling have been clumsy and ill-fitted to the delivery of well-ground meal. But the truth, of course, is that, rclatirely to white flour, whole meal of even imperfect fineness is desirable, while we can render it still more so, and rid it of what faults remain, by improving the system of grinding. VOL. X.-No. 55.