Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/229

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

he himself evidently regarded them as the most important of all his varied achievements.

His faith in cookery is well expressed in the following, where he is speaking of his experiments in feeding the Bavarian army and the poor of Munich. He says: "I constantly found that the richness or quality of a soup depended more upon the proper choice of the ingredients, and a proper management of the fire in the combination of these ingredients, than upon the quantity of solid nutritious matter employed; much more upon the art and skill of the cook than upon the sums laid out in the market."

A great many fallacies are continually perpetrated, not only by ignorant people, but even by eminent chemists and physiologists, by inattention to what is indicated in this passage. In many chemical and physiological works may be found elaborately minute tables of the chemical composition of certain articles of food, and with these the assumption (either directly stated, or implied, as a matter of course) that such tables represent the practical nutritive value of the food. The illusory character of such assumption is easily understood. In the first place, the analysis is usually that of the article of food in its raw state, and thus all the chemical changes involved in the process of cookery are ignored.

Secondly, the difficulty or facility of assimilation is too often unheeded. This depends both upon the original condition of the food and the changes which the cookery has produced—changes which may double its nutritive value without effecting more than a small percentage of alteration in its chemical composition, as revealed by laboratory analysis.

In the recent discussion on whole-meal bread, for example, chemical analyses of the bran, etc., are quoted, and it is commonly assumed that, if these can be shown to contain more of the theoretical bone making or brain-making elements, they are, therefore, in reference to these requirements, more nutritious than the fine flour. But, before we are justified in asserting this, it must be made clear that these ordinarily rejected portions of the grain are as easily digested and assimilated as the finer inner flour.

I think I shall be able to show that the practical failure of this whole-meal bread movement (which is not a novelty, but only a revival) is mainly due to the disregard of the cookery question; that whole-meal prepared as bread by simple baking is less nutritious than fine flour similarly prepared; but that whole-meal otherwise prepared may be, and has been, made more nutritious than fine white bread.

Count Rumford supplies us with important data toward the solution of this difficulty.

Another preliminary example. A pound of bread or biscuit contains more solid nutritive matter than a pound of beefsteak, but does