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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/322

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

All kinds of fat ("non-nitrogenous" aliments), including butter and cream, are more digestible in winter than in summer time. Cold air is a peptic stimulant, and neutralizes the calorific effect of a non-nitrogenous diet, while fresh tree-fruits and berries counteract an excess of atmospheric heat, and thus, by an admirable provision of Nature, the seasons themselves furnish us the food most adapted to the preservation of the right medium temperature of the system. Preserved fruits (raisins, dried figs and apples, etc) lose much of their acidity, and thus become less refreshing, but not less nutritive, at the very time when the latter property is the more important one. Cow's-milk, on the other hand, grows richer in winter-time, and this self-adaptation of their food to the varying demands of the seasons enables the inhabitants of such countries as Italy and Mexico to subsist all the year round on an almost uniform diet. But in a climate of such thermal extremes as ours it would be the best plan to vary our regimen with the weather, and, above all, to adopt a special summer diet, since the consequences of our present culinary abuses are far less baneful in January than in July, Even in mid-winter our compounds of steaming and greasy viands with hot spices severely strain the tolerance of a youthful stomach; but, when the dog-star adds its fervid influence, the demand for refrigerating food becomes so imperative that no forensic eloquence would persuade me to convict a city lad for hooking watermelons. Where fruit is cheap the paterfamilias should keep a storeroom full of summer apples, and leave the key in the door—it will obviate costiveness and midnight excursions. From May to September fresh fruit ought to form the staple of our diet, and the noonday meal at least should consist of cold dishes, cold apple-pudding with sweet milk and whipped eggs, or strawberries with bread, cream, and sugar. The Romans of the republican age broke their fast with a biscuit and a fig or two, and took their principal meal in the cool of the evening. In their application of the word, a frugal diet meant quite literally a diet of tree-fruits, and that our primogenitor was a frugivorous creature is the one point in which the Darwinian genesis agrees with the Mosaic version.

Dr. Alcott holds that a man might live and thrive on an exclusive diet of well-selected fruits, and I agree with him if he includes olives and oily nuts, for no assumption in dietetics is more gratuitous than the idea that a frequent use of flesh-food is indispensable to the preservation of human health. Meat is certainly not our natural food. The structure of our teeth, our digestive apparatus, and our hands, proves a priori that the physical organization of man is that of a frugivorous animal. So do our instincts. Accustom a child to a diet of milk, bread, and meat; never let him see a fruit, nor mention the existence of such a thing; then take him to an orchard, and see how quick his instinct will tell him what apples are good for. Turn him loose among a herd of lambs and kids: he will play with them as a fellow-vege-