Food – Its Spiritual And Nutritional Elements ~ Part II
Good day again folks; I believe we were walking through a large supermarket and discussing some of the relative values of the many goodies which we saw about us, and the diet of the average American citizen; we have found that, just as in many ways of life, considerable amounts of synthetics and processing have been entered into, which were rather deleterious to the proper assimilation and nutritional elements which should have been contained in the food. As Pasteur pointed out, pasteurizing milk partially destroyed some of the food values and the elements necessary for the full realization of the food value of milk; so, the numerous products of the farm and country which you see here in the market are also, to a large extent, very highly processed and refined. The sugars which are used in some of these foods have a two-fold effect inasmuch as they are very acid producing, and can, with the mixture of saliva, be positively caustic upon tooth enamel. This is especially true with the sugars used in the soft drink industry; and there is a common complaint among teenagers, using a word which I will not mention for obvious reasons, that they have a soft drink tooth decay age. Also, as we studied the processing of the fruits and vegetables, it was evident that much of the roughage had been eliminated by this processing, and, as a consequence, teeth and gums suffered from lack of polishing and stimulation.
Going along a little further in this market we see a very large display counter which is devoted to the various meat products. The subject of meat, in itself, is rather a touchy one, and is liable to produce great controversy. We may say that man is omnivorous or that he has a very highly adaptable intestinal tract which is capable of digesting all types of foodstuffs whether vegetable, fruit, or the meat variety. Contrasting, as we have said, the picture of the Eskimo who lives almost entirely upon a meat or fat diet with that of the various sects in India which prohibit even the consumption of fertilized eggs, we see, in these countries to eat meat, would be a very horrifying and vilifying act.
Going into Japan, we see here too that, like the coastal areas of China, most of the meat is of the fish variety which comes from the sea, and very little if any livestock of any kind is used or is consumed. In the more interior regions of China, a considerable amount of pork is eaten among the sects of those who are not Buddhists. It must be borne in mind that in these countries the temperatures are rather hot and are, in themselves prohibitive factors in the production and consumption of meat, as there is little or no refrigeration generally in use in marketing these various foodstuffs in a public or open market.
As for yourself, you may choose whether or not you like to consume a certain amount of meat, as it is a very valuable supply of proteins and generally speaking, the various laws and regulations from the government make it reasonably certain that most meats are in a good and satisfactory condition for consumption. Choose your meats wisely, however, and remember that in the case of rather sickened animals, very large concentrations of staphylococcus organisms can exist. There are seven or eight varieties of these organisms that can make a person very ill and even cause death. There is also a universally known and prevalent condition, especially among the swine, called trichina, which is a very small worm-like animal inhabiting the flesh of hogs. However, beef is not entirely immune from trichina; it is also sometimes found in poultry, turkeys, and even in fish. So, here again, a very wise selection and a thorough cooking is in order. It must be remembered that trichina can be killed by raising the temperature of the meat to about 180 degrees fahrenheit for a duration of three minutes time.
Now we are up in front of this supermarket into the section which is devoted to fruits and vegetables. We will point to some of the rather fallacious interpretations in which the average housewife can indulge herself. She believes that if she serves a cooked vegetable and a salad along with the main dish, which is usually meat, she is reasonably sure her family is properly nourished. Let us examine some of the fruits and vegetables which are at this counter. We will begin with these two carrots first, and we will call one ‘A’ and the other ‘B’. ‘A’ carrot comes from the soil which is almost virgin and is very rich in humus qualities, while carrot ‘B’ has come from soil which has grown many crops of carrots as well as other vegetables so that this soil is almost depleted in vitamin and mineral elements. As you can see in breaking down the chemical analysis, the difference between ‘A’ carrot and ‘B’ carrot would reveal that the latter carrot had little or no vitamin and mineral content while carrot ‘A’ could be fairly crammed with these nutritional elements. It must also be borne in mind that after pulling the carrot from the ground, even an hour’s exposure to sunlight and air will oxidize a large quantity of the vitamin A as well as some of the vitamin C.
Looking about to the different types of vegetables such as the cabbages, lettuce, asparagus and other leafy crops which are grown above the ground, these too, could be grown in soil which is relatively deficient in minerals and vitamins. However, there are other dangers to these crops which are grown above the ground which must also be remembered. During the last few years, your political system has been combating or fighting a ‘cold war’ with a foreign nation, while the entomologist or the scientist in America and in other civilized countries has also been fighting a ‘cold war’ against the insect world. If it were not for the great amount of research work done by these combating agencies through the agricultural department of the U.S., it is quite possible that America could have starved to death before now. And it is entirely conceivable that in the future, unless new insecticides and new methods are found to combat many of these numerous pests, the possibility of starving to death is not entirely remote. The new aggregation of sprays and insecticides are designed to kill, not only our local pests which have lived on this continent for hundreds of years, but also numerous other pests and such imports as the Japanese Beetle or the Gypsy Moth which flourished in Europe. Ladybugs are being grown to destroy the aphids and other types of plant life upon which the Lady Beetle feeds. The scientists have also developed some very powerful sprays, something on the lindane or chloride natures which are not only very poisonous to insects, whether they touch them or whether they eat them, but they are also very poisonous to humans.
It is usually safe to say that most vegetables and fruits reach the market in a somewhat contaminated condition from these numerous sprays, and it is not only unsafe but absolutely necessary as a precautionary measure, to thoroughly wash and soak off any residual sprays as may be clinging to the fruits or the leaves of these vegetables. At the present time, statistics would show you that while it has been suppressed, yet, nevertheless it is a fact that large masses of the city population are suffering from the effects of some sort of partial poisoning from some of these very highly poisonous sprays. The old arsenic of lead has not entirely been displaced and, that too, as you know, is a very poisonous product. So do be careful and thoroughly wash all your fruits and vegetables before eating.
The subject here too, of fruits and vegetables is something which can be further discussed. There is a common practice of picking some of the fruits and vegetables before they have reached maturity, that is, before they are fully ripened. They are picked at the height of their size, and in some cases are artificially colored to produce the necessary glow or attractive quality which is necessary for their sale. The fact that fruits and vegetables are sometimes picked this way is a method of insuring that through the lengthy process of shipping and marketing these products, they shall not suffer from spoilage and rotting. It is obvious that an apple, a peach, or a pear, if it is picked before fully ripened, will market in a much better condition than would a fully ripened fruit. However, the partially ripened fruit or vegetable is not, in any sense, the same kind of fruit which is ripened upon the tree, as anyone who has visited an orchard or a farm where these products are grown and has eaten the tree or vine-ripened fruit will know by comparison that there is considerable difference. Tomatoes, for instance, are picked even before they are of a reddish color, and a certain gas is placed in the refrigerator cars which will color these tomatoes a very beautiful red. They are, however, inferior to the vine-ripened tomatoes, both in food value, in taste, and also in quality. Vine ripened tomatoes must be marketed within a few hours or they are liable to suffer considerable damage from softening and spoilage. This is quite true with peaches and pears. Apples, however, do not suffer quite so much as most varieties grown, are naturally of a rather hard or a firm texture and are usually picked at almost their peak of perfection.
There is, as I have said, considerable difference between the tree-ripened fruit and that which is sometimes found in the markets, so that by eating some of the fresh fruits you find in the market does not insure you of your full quota of vitamins and minerals, as very often these vitamins and minerals do not make their full appearance until the last few days of the ripening process due to the energies or actinic rays of the sun with the last act of nature in the tree itself, in placing these vitamins and minerals within the outer layers of the fruits. I have really no suggestion at the present time which would eliminate these evils that are primarily produced and instigated with the desire of producing foods from the country which are attractive to the eye of the housewife who purchases these items for her family. She does so mainly on the basis that they appear very attractive, but as she has no way of making a chemical analysis, she does not, therefore, know that these things are not as they are represented. She is, if I can use the good old American slang expression, ‘buying a pig in a poke’. She must choose these foods in a more or less haphazard fashion.
The stalk of bananas which you see hanging there is quite useless for food in a comparative fashion to the natural tree-ripened banana which you might find in the tropical countries where the natives pick them from the tree just as mother nature ripens them in the full tropical sun. Those bananas were picked when they were quite green, and, in the shipping and storing, the fruit could only extract or convert certain types of sugars, the elements of which were actually contained in the small stalk to which they had grown. Therefore, the bananas are of an entirely different texture and taste from those which you would find growing in the same region and which were ripened in the tropical sun.
Usually, in most cases, public opinion is a tremendous and a mighty weapon, yet, the housewife becomes cognizant of the fact that she is paying very good money for something which she does not actually receive. She may be so incited as to raise some sort of a hue and cry, wherein legislation could be enacted so that the fruits and vegetables, as well as other products which are consumed on the table, would have to be packaged and marked with the reasonable assurance that they contained certain vitamins and certain minerals; then the housewife could buy these products from the standpoint and on the basis that this bunch of carrots in a cellophane bag was reasonably protected from oxidation and that it was grown in soil which made it possible to analyze the carrot for a certain percentage of vitamin A or carotene. The same labels and packaging would, of course, be quite effective in all types of fruits and vegetables whether they were canned or purchased in a fresh state.
The packaging and labeling of meats and other types of foods, too, could follow in a rather short and rapid order if the housewife and the purchaser became sufficiently aware of the various and glaring defects in the producing and marketing of the foodstuffs which are eaten upon the table. This legislation and a consequential amount of enacting, and the expense entailed in labeling and producing these packages of food would quite necessarily raise the prices somewhat; however, I do believe that this would be entirely justifiable, inasmuch as the health of the nation, as a whole, would be quickly improved. It is commonly judged among medical circles and life insurance companies that America is, as a whole, the healthiest nation in the world. These statistics very often, are quite likely to be misleading and have been taken or based upon some comparatively recent level where sanitation and various other factors were not relevant in making such statistics available.
There are many races of people living on the earth today who have not had the sanitation or the awareness of the scientific marvels of vitamins and minerals, but they are magnificent specimens of humanity. There are natives living in Africa who have never bathed in their lives; they rub their bodies with a mixture of various fats or oils; and, as any explorer can tell you, if the wind is right, you can tell that they are around as far as a half mile away; yet, these natives very often reach a ripe old age without losing a single tooth and are very rugged, strong individuals even in their nineties and in their hundreds! They usually subsist upon whatever nature is convenient in delivering by way of the spear or the trap or they may even in time of necessity, consume large quantities of caterpillars or insects which abound about the face of the country.
There is one tribe of natives living upon a certain lake in Africa who make cakes of gnats which abound and literally clog the air so that it is impossible to see, to any degree, more than a few feet away; they make these small cakes of gnats and actually consume them. It was the custom of many Indians to make a meal of dried grasshoppers which was considered very delicious; it was made into cakes or into porridge and tasted something like shrimp. I am merely mentioning these things to point out some contrast as to how the average American citizen in your present time and age, prides himself, and justifiably so, on the tremendous resources and the facilities of sanitation, and feeding the mouths of these large cities of America. This is practically the only way in which it could be done. To transport and market food in such large quantities in any other way, except in a rather extremely sanitary way, would be almost prohibitive; however, the elements of processing foods and making them sanitary are, to be sure, quite often very destructive to the numerous vitamins and minerals which nature have usually impounded within these food products. The remedy here, as I have suggested, means that both elements of sanitation and processing, as well as to be fully aware of the innermost nutritional values of food, must be combined with their growing and also the distribution. The American consumer should be made thoroughly aware that he is buying such merchandise, that he is entitled to what he pays for, and that it is useless to eat food unless it does contain the proper nutritional elements.
You would not wear clothing which did not fully protect you or would not meet with the standards of society in the time and place in which you are at present residing; nor, would the average American live in a hut which was fashioned from straw and sticks as do many of the savages and the primitive peoples in the jungles. These things are products of a very highly civilized and a very mechanized world. The borders of such civilization, however, can be pushed to such an extent that they may actually, in a sense, kill off the very race of people who had so instigated and brought about their fullest extent and realization. (The railroad train was passing nearby at this point.) My, you do live in a noisy world, don’t you. Great difficulty is sometimes experienced in talking above the roar of those iron monsters which go past the house. I understand that they, too, produce large quantities of different types of chemical elements in the air which are called smog and are very injurious to the respiratory tract of the average human. This, too, is a problem which will have to be solved in order that large masses of people will not actually be converted into very sick or otherwise incapacitated people. However, I do believe that I have covered the subject of foods and marketing in your cities to some extent. Please bear in mind that I have presented these factors to you so that you can more suitably prepare the various meals of the day to feed the mouths of the loved ones around you, and that you may be better able to nourish yourself.
I have not gone into this subject to point out or to criticize but rather to try to help you prevent what could be very serious and highly repercussive effects in the consumption of the highly processed foods which, in many cases, contain little or no food value in themselves. There are many other elements which enter into the life of the average city dweller, for foods of any kind must be consumed only at times when a person is comparatively relaxed and without nervous tension, so that the blood may fully circulate around the digestive tract, and peristalsis can proceed in a fully energetic manner and pattern. The girl who rushes from the office into the nearby drugstore and consumes some fancy sundae or two slices of very lightly charred white bread, which she calls toast, wherein is placed a little mixture of mayonnaise and tuna, is not doing her body very much good. She is filling her stomach, to a certain degree, with something which will cause the stomach to cease its contractions or hunger pangs, but she will likely begin to suffer from numerous types of malnutrition; and along with the habit of smoking a pack or two of cigarettes, this girl can very quickly be led to the nearest hospital.
I would thoroughly advocate that the working day of the individual begin with a morning shift of about three hours duration and a two-hour intermission at noontime wherein a light lunch of such fresh fruits and vegetables could be suitably eaten, followed by a period of complete relaxation for possibly an hour, with a resuming of the duties for another three or four hours. The hurrying and scurrying, and hustle and bustle of the modern civilized way of life is one which is breaking down the health of many millions of people, and filling the hospitals and asylums with all kinds and types of physically and mentally ill people who have arrived in such a state simply because of the wrong eating and thinking habits. As a former American, I am still very much interested in the welfare of my country and would in a future day, like to see many of the elements which are in full sway at the present time, be displaced by more healthy attitudes and ways of life which would develop the mental and physical health of the country to a comparative degree, which was in keeping with the general trend of the times. However, I must not stay too long at this time.
For the immediate future we will shortly close this section of Shamballa, and you will again be conducted to the opening of a new section; but before this is done, there will be some other sort of a suitable exploration and resume of the final and concluding chapters of this section. May I say in closing that I have been most happy to again come into the presence of some of my fellow countrymen in whatever capacity that I could best serve them, and until such future day when I can again make some sort of an appearance or comment, if this could be possible, I remain yours. — Washington Irving.
Excerpt from The Voice of Muse
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