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whole-meal bread when they can be furnished with an article wbich does not offend the sight by its needlessly dirty colour, and the stomach by its mechanically irritating constituents.
It is at this point that we touch upon another and by far the most pronounced objection advanced against the reformed bread. The prediction just quoted concerning the popular welcome awaiting wheat-meal bread, rightly ground and made, is prospectively denied by many. It is said that the delicacy of its appearance and its supposed superior palatableness will keep for white bread its place in the preferences of our poorer classes.
Let us weigh this opinion. The poor undoubtedly now do buy white bread pretty invariably. I was told the other day that a baker had made experiment, and found that such poor persons as he knew would not take whole-meal bread at a gift. So it is. But so surely it need not continue to be. Prejudice is a tough thing to deal with when once it is established ; and in this case it has some uneducated common sense as well as custom to back it. Bad brown breads have been justly repudiated; and prejudice, once formed, knows not how to discriminate. Yet the ancestors of these repudiators of nourishing loaves felt no disgust for wheaten meal. Nor, if the people will only try the experiment, will they find their children object to it. Children (whose tastes are no ill criterion of the excellence of diet) generally like the wheat-meal bread very much. The existing class of adult poor are, in this matter, victims of habit, ignorance, and even fashion. The question, as one of prejudice, has for an observer of human nature its own interest ; and for a believer in the complex development of custom and opinion it affords an apt illustration of the indirect path along which social advance is made. Numerous considerations secondary to the actual fitness of a thing to men's wants influence their appreciation alike of the thing and of their own requirements. The primary office of food is to nourish, as of fire to
Yet in England the anomalous fact that deficiently warming and chilly-draught-producing fireplaces are clung to because they * look so pretty' is paralleled by the further fact that a deficiently nourishing bread is clung to, sometimes even by the half-starved, for the same reason! Although we can hardly expect even the most perfect of wheat-meal bread to look as pretty on the breakfast table as the most perfect of white loaves, still the reformed bread is a great improvement, even in appearance, on the dark, heavy-looking ‘wholemeal’ loaves hitherto made. For the rest, while not wholly disregarding the appearance of a loaf where the other advantages are equal, such a consideration should obviously come last, rather than first, in the reckoning of its merits, since we neither eat nor digest with our eyes.
The stress that is laid on the superior palatableness of white bread, though not quite so far-fetched, is scarcely less ill-considered.
Other bread, as I have said, is palatable elsewhere-used to be palatable in England once. White bread came into general use in South Britain, and was changed in the scale of public opinion from the luxury it had hitherto been into a necessary of life less than a century and a half ago. It had its opponents at the outset. An essay exists in the British Museum, written by a gentleman of last century, in which the writer goes so far as to say that white bread kills more than the sword! That essayist had strong opinions as to the dietetic foolishness of white bread; but he wrote in vain for his generation. White bread was to have its day. It was not originally adopted, of course, on its dietetic merits, but on account of its delicacy of appearance and flavour.
The palatableness of an article of food is, however, more largely modifiable than many realise. As many things indirectly affect it as can be brought by mental action to bear upon that most direct agency in its formation-habit. Taste can be voluntarily acquired for sympathy's sake, for health's sake, for fashion's sake. It is often involuntarily induced by such habit as was originally enforced by mere necessity. Last year, when in Munich, I observed that the bread always eaten by the Bavarian working-classes, and depended upon as the principal household bread of all classes alike, is a darkcoloured, sour, and (to my palate) very nauseous bread, made from rye and flavoured with aniseed. Yet several English persons who had been for some years resident in Munich assured me that they had grown thoroughly to like this black bread,' and to eat it by preference. If these loaves tasted to Germans as they tasted to meor, rather, if the German consciousness stood related to the flavour as mine does----black bread' would soon cease to be either made or bought unless some advantage about it largely overbalanced its disagreeable appearance and flavour.
A liking is rapidly acquired for an article of food believed in as good, pure, and wholesome. Just as the eye may be educated to different appreciation of colour or form, and the ear to different taste in music, so can the palate be educated if a sufficient indueement be presented to the mind. A ten-year-old fashion in women's dress is commonly felt to be repulsively ugly, chiefly because the eye has lost the habit of liking it, and the fashion is past for the sake of which the eye originally got into the habit of liking it. Again, people cheerfully go through some suffering in order to acquire a superfluous liking for smoking, olives, the sound of bagpipes, and a variety of other things intrinsically foreign to the uninitiated taste. Inferior reasons, among which mere imitativeness is one, are potent in such cases. But in the case of wholesome bread there exist many good reasons for exerting all personal influence towards bringing into play the imitative propensity of average human nature by the institution of a • fashion' for the eating of wheat-meal bread. Thus will be increasingly counterbalanced the deficient palatableness which some allege to be a characteristic of such bread.
The working-classes will be difficult to reform in this particular. So much is certain. Quite apart from any conviction of the desirability of a thing, they are essentially prone to run in grooves and to stick to preferences with a blind dogmatism in all matters affecting the habits of daily life. Experiment, as such, has no interest for them. Mr. Herbert Spencer remarks that, 'on contrasting different classes in the same society, it is observable that the least (socially) developed are the most averse to change. Among [such] an improved method is difficult to introduce; and even a new kind of food is usually disliked.' Taste, however instituted, naturally operates single-handed in the choice of food where there exists no intelligently based desire to alter the habit, and so to educate the taste.
Added to which, the working-classes of England have hitherto had no reason for questioning their own liking for white bread. They see white bread to be eaten by those to whom the price of a loaf is a small concern. They assume that tbe richer classes, who can eat what they please, eat what is nicest. White bread, though as cheap as brown, is eaten by the eaters of many good things that are not cheap. Something like this constitutes, I suspect, one of the unconscious arguments lying in the white-bread scale of a poor man's preferences.
No one desires wholly to disregard the testimony of the palate. But one need not look far for evidence that it is often worse than a blind guide; prone to vitiation, and easily taught bad habits. To win its plastic co-operation in the cause of a good habit is worth an effort.
Meanwhile, it is by no means universally admitted by persons who have adopted it, that wheat-meal bread is unpalatable. Many prefer it to the most excellent of white bread. Its palatableness depends greatly on its making. Of course, it varies in quality just as other bread does; and one baker's wheat-meal bread is better than another's, just as one baker's white bread is better than another's, just because he is a better baker.4
There remains an argument to be considered which is sometimes carelessly advanced against the appropriation for bread-making purposes of those parts of the grain now used for other purposes. The facts are these : The fine flour required for white bread exists in the wheat to the extent of 70 to 75 per cent; 25 or, far more commonly, 30 per cent. of the strongest nourishment being set aside
• A Winchester farmer, who for ycars had used and firmly believed in bread mide from whole meal, suggested some time since, in a letter to the Standard, that, in order to make the meal thoroughly palatable, the wheat grain should be more carefully selected than is commonly done at present. All'heads' and no 'tails,' he saill, should be used ; and the faulty grains should be rejected.
for the fattening of pigs and the foddering of cattle. In comment on these facts it is loosely said, “What does it matter whether we take a given kind of nourishment in the form of wheat, or whether we take it in the form of meat made from animals that have been fed on the wheat?'
The answer to this is twofold. First, to quote the words of Dr. H. C. Bartlett: “If we saved [that 25 per cent. of nutriment in the grain which we commonly throw to our cattle] not only should we be in pocket ourselves, but we should save sufficient to pay for one-half the staple food consumed by the whole of the paupers of this kingdom.' “This,' Dr. Bartlett adds, 'is an important socio-economical consideration. Secondly: From our present point of view—that is, concerning ourselves chiefly with the interests of the poor--this turning of wheat into meat which some economists seem disposed to admire, is further wasteful, because it is a roundabout and costly way of achieving an end near at hand. Meat is expensive, to begin with. It wastes enormously in cooking. It contains a very large percentage of mere water, for which one pays in buying it. Sometimes, too, cattle are a dead loss through disease. And, even setting aside all these considerations, the fact remains that the poorest classes, for whom and for whose children we chiefly desire to see the adoption of wheat-meal bread, are precisely the classes who ultimately derive none of this compensating nourishment from the animals fed on the wheat they lose.
To sum up. The Bread Reform League has been instituted, and its operations are conducted, mainly with a view to providing the classes who live chiefly on bread with a more nutritive kind of food than they can at present obtain. The reformers maintain, and facts of various orders bear them out in maintaining, that such an article of diet as is required to render children of the poor stronger, and better able to cope with the difficulties of their existence, is found in wheat-meal bread made of the decorticated and finely ground whole grain. They declare that such bread contains a larger number of nutrients, and these in wholesomer proportions, than white bread does; and that more hardship can be sustained, and more labour performed, upon wheat-meal bread alone, than upon white bread alone. No denial is forthcoming from any quarter which invalidates the inference drawn from the fact that the working classes of other countries who live on whole-meal breads, and who require no meat at all, compare favourably with the English bread-feeding class. No one has been able to point out a diseased state of human life corresponding with a whole-meal or wheat-meal-eating section of any community, as the prevalence of rickets and of crumbly teeth corresponds with the white-bread-eating section.
1. As to the feebly uttered objections from the laboratory : In the hitherto almost entire absence of consistent dietetic experiment, chemists are obliged to speak in the potential or the subjunctive mood. They consider the question at worst an open one. Meanwhile, no reason is put forward, even by chemists, that fairly favours the eating of unreformed starchy white bread by persons who can get little or nothing but bread to eat. Nor are chemists even agreed among themselves in looking coldly upon the especial line reform has taken in the recent efforts at bread reformation ; while physiologists are unanimous in their approval alike of those efforts and their direction. Against the few scientific voices raised in hypothetical dissent, are heard the firmer tones of our most eminent chemists and physiologists cordially advocating the introduction of wheat-meal bread made as the reformers aim at making it. Professor Huxley has lately given his assent to the principles of the League. Professor Frankland, Professor Ray Lankester, Dr. W. B. Carpenter, Professor Church, Sir Thomas Watson, Professor Erasmus Wilson, and Dr. Pavey may also be named as among its warm supporters.
2. We have seen that, in order to prevail upon the needy classes to make experiment of this bread even when brought within easy and general reach, a prejudice has to be overcome, founded partly on the actual objections to common brown bread, and on the practical identification in the public mind of wheat-meal bread with other breads of a similar colour. There being no sound dietetic reasons for the popularity of white bread, example may be brought to bear in the overcoming of this prejudice. One thing is certain. No such forces were at work in the original adoption of white bread as a general article of food among English poor as are now at work to get rid of it as such. Neither a scientific nor a philanthropic impulse caused the crowding out of the old-fashioned meal by white flour. People liked the look and taste of white bread ; if they could get plenty of milk, meat, and eggs, they missed nothing by its adoption; and be it remembered that milk and meat were much less expensive then than they are now. Such people as did miss anything of health or vitality through being unable, even then, to afford meat and milk, were yet ignorant as to what it was they missed, and as to how cheaply to supply the need. In our day, not only has the use of white bread become among all classes a rooted habit to which the palate gives allegiance, but there is the argument of laziness : “We like
very well what we have got, and it saves trouble to go on as we are.' A present preference always coaxes the judgment to find it in the right. Taste and habit, however, appear in this case to be alike in the wrong, and the duty is urged upon us of acquiring a new preference and of creating a new fashion by the persevering trial of a new kind of bread.
3. Lastly, as to the economists' argument, that by giving our rejected bran to cattle it is elaborated into a superior human food, we have seen, first, that meat is dear, and is subject to disease, and so