Editor Popular Science Monthly;
SIR: I have just read Dr. Benjafield's lecture, in the September number, on Fruit as a Food and Medicine. I have read the Popular Science Monthly for twenty-five years, or rather from the very first number, and have always found it filled with very valuable and intensely interesting matter; but the above article I consider, from a hygienic standpoint, rather superior to anything I have read anywhere for a long time.
I am well aware of the great value of fruits as food and medicine. I prefer a ripe Baldwin apple to any other fruit grown or sold in this country. A deep-red Baldwin is the finest. Its color indicates that it is grown in the sunlight, which makes it chemically superior to one grown in the shade, which is more apt to be of green color. As the doctor says, lemon juice is of great value. My spring medicine for many years has been the juice of one lemon in as much, or a little more, water—no sugar—taken every morning for a week or ten days. I usually take it fifteen or twenty minutes before breakfast. It corrects biliary tendencies, and acts as a fine tonic and appetizer.
I have found apples to have a fine tonic effect on the stomach; one good apple will usually give me a fine appetite in ten minutes. I usually eat two or three good-sized apples at every meal; they constitute a large part of the meal, not an embellishment at the end of it.
I have found, since using apples largely, that the physical power of endurance under labor, either mental or physical, is very much increased; also a gain in flesh. This I attribute largely to the fact that apples assist the digestion and assimilation of food of other kinds. Chemists record that apples contain a larger percentage of nitrates and phosphates (food for brain and muscle) than any other fruit.
Care should be taken in the selection of the fruit to be used. Most of the fruits sold in the market in the early fall are not well ripened. Apples, peaches, pears, and other fruits grown in southern latitudes are gathered before they are ripe and shipped north, where they bring a high price before the northern crop is ripe. This green fruit is ripened on the cars and boats, and in cellars, warehouses, and stores, where it is shut out from the sunlight, and where the air oftentimes is not of the purest. Fruit ripened in such places is very inferior to that ripened on the tree where it grew. Fruit grown in northern sections is often gathered quite unripe, and, marketed early in the season, it brings a high price. This green fruit has not been chemically elaborated in the sunlight and fresh air on the parent stem, the only way it can obtain the proper elements in proper combination.
Of course, this green fruit is better than none, but fruit can not be perfect unless ripened as Nature intends it should be.
I was lately reading the reports of apples exported from this country to England and other countries. If my memory is not at fault, I think the number of barrels exported in 1894 and 1895 was in the vicinity of half a million. We ought not to export a barrel; the people of this country are suffering because they have not consumed them all.
There is another article of food of which we do not consume enough—namely, baked beans. Many people complain that they can not eat them. Well, cooked as they are in many families, they can not and ought not. Our physiological text-books have for a good many years taught that persons of sedentary habits do not require a diet that feeds and strengthens the muscles so much as those who perform muscular work. Well, perhaps not quite as much, but a great fault with the majority of people in this country is, that they do not consume enough food which feeds the muscles, brain, and nerves—i. e., nitrates and phosphates. In the first place, food can not be well chewed without muscular action; secondly, the stomach is required to exercise muscular activity as a part of the digestive process; thirdly, the peristaltic action of the bowels is indispensable; fourthly, the heart is one of the most if not the most powerful muscle in the human body; it never ceases working from the moment life begins until it ends. How can we expect this most important organ to go on year after year performing hard muscular work without being nourished by such food as muscles require? In my opinion, the many cases we hear of nowadays of heart failure are simply cases of heart starvation. We consume too much fat forming food, and the result is a shrinking and weakening of the muscles of the heart and other important organs. The muscles of the heart shrink away and fat is substituted in place (fatty degeneration). Whatever a person's occupation may be, a good supply of muscle-making, brain and nerve-making food should be daily eaten. Baked beans—properly baked—contain over twenty-five per cent of nitrates for muscles, and fully four per cent of food for brain and bones; but they must be thoroughly cooked. I would not care to eat them cooked less than twelve hours.