Popular Science Monthly/Volume 48/December 1895/Correspondence



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. Beans should not be eaten unless one is really hungry—the appetite sharp.

Of course, there are many other articles of food which are good muscle, brain, and nerve feeders, and as a people we ought to consume more of them. I do not say that all people can eat baked beans as I do, they act as a tonic and strengthen the digestive powers in my case. I think most people can eat more of them than they do, and if properly cooked would soon find them almost indispensable. Baked peas stand next in value as a muscle and nerve food.

Before closing I wish to allude to apples again. I like them raw, but sauce is delicious made in the following way, by which method the apple loses less of its valuable qualities than in any other method of cooking them:

First, pare thin and quarter the apples, place in a stewpan over a hot fire, put in a few spoonfuls of water, just to keep from burning on the bottom—more than that injures the flavor; cook as quickly as possible; cover over when cooking, so that steam will cook the top. I have found that with a hot fire from eight to twelve minutes will cook them. Add a quantity of sugar before quite done and eat warm. When done; the apple will remain in quarters, and hardly have changed color. A fine red Baldwin apple cooked in this way and eaten before cold is delicious and very healthy.C. A. Hoppin.

Worcester, Mass., September 2, 1895.


Editor Popular Science Monthly:

Sir: One of the great factors in natural selection is individual variation. The English sparrow in its struggle for existence has to contend with cats, boys with blowguns, and the hostility of a large class of people who believe it to be a nuisance. The strength and stability of a nest in which the young are to be reared are important features in the life of the brood, and it is interesting to note the variations in the form, style, and material of the nests, in this connection. Mr. John Robinson, of Salem, has communicated to me the following observations he has made concerning this subject:

"In June, 1893, a sparrow's nest was removed from the vine (Ampelopsis virginica) growing on the southern end of East India Marine Hall, Salem, composed exclusively of the twigs of Tamarix chinensis, a tree of which species was growing in the yard below the nest. The twigs were about five inches long, and, being young and tender, were easily bitten off by the birds. Over three hundred shoots were thus used in this one nest. A little hay was used as a foundation in this nest and in each of the others to be described.

"In May, 1894, all the nests in the vine, of which there were perhaps twenty, were taken down about the 1st of the month. About the 15th of the month four nests, all made after the cleaning at the 1st of the month, were taken down. Each had a slight foundation of hay. One was composed of feathers, no doubt collected in a neighboring yard where hens were kept. About a quart of these feathers were in the nest. A second was composed entirely of twine, picked up in the streets and yards near by. A third was made exclusively of strippings of fine bark from cedar posts, and very likely obtained from the lumber dealer's storage yards on Derby Street, not far away, or perhaps from some newly set fence nearer at hand. Another nest was filled with fluffy cotton wool, such as is used in bed puffs. In each case there was nothing else used except the hay foundation and the materials named."

Edward S. Morse.
Salem, Mass., October 36, 1895.