THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY
|WHEN DOES A FOOD BECOME A LUXURY?|
By Professor E. H. S. BAILEY
UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS
IN the rapid expansion which is taking place in this country, and in attempting to adjust ourselves to these changed conditions, and to the higher price of foodstuffs, there is danger that we forget to differentiate as carefully as we formerly did, between a nutritious food, which is purchased for its food value, and other products, also good enough as foods, but which are sold at prices which bring them within the domain of luxuries.
In buying delicately flavored candies or chocolates at from 40 to 80 cents per pound, although it is recognized, by those who think about it, that the chocolate and sugar are excellent food material, no one buys such things as food. They are purchased as luxuries pure and simple, because their flavor pleases the palate. Chocolate and sugar are also sold as food, or to be used as a constituent of foods, at a price so low that they can properly be used in the preparation of foods and beverages. In this case their food value is more closely proportionate to their cost.
Although a definition is in some cases a stumbling block, we venture to say that, in case of foods, a luxury is a substance that may have some nutritive value, but which has a low food value in proportion to the cost while, on the other hand, a food has, or should have, a comparatively high food value in proportion to its cost.
Some foods are expensive on account of their rarity or because they are out of season, some because of the cost of the original material from which they are made, some because they are brought from such a distance that the transportation charges are high, and others on account of the expense attending the manufacture.
In general, manufactured foods cost more than those upon which but little labor has been bestowed to prepare them for market. This is well illustrated in the case of ordinary granulated 'sugar which frequently retails at five cents per pound r while (although often made from the same "stock") "cube" sugar, which has been sawn into blocks, and "powdered" sugar, which has been ground and perhaps bolted, sells at ten cents per pound. The original materials in a five-cent loaf of bread would probably not cost three cents, yet we recognize that to make the bread and bake it and deliver it to the consumer costs some-