Food

Food

PUBLIC FOOD. THE FOOD V A L U E OF V E G E T A B L E ALBUMEN. AN important contribution to the scientific literature of food, and one that bears dir...

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PUBLIC FOOD. THE

FOOD V A L U E OF V E G E T A B L E ALBUMEN.

AN important contribution to the scientific literature of food, and one that bears directly on the question of "vegetarianism," has been contributed by Dr. J. Rutgers, of Rotterdam, to Voit's Zeitschrift f. Biologic (XXIV, Bd. 3 hft.). The question which Dr. Rutgers essayed to solve was, whether equal weights of vegetable and animal albumen were mutually replaceable as foods. The experiments extended for a period of ten weeks, the subjects being himself and wife ; the former, for tabular conciseness, is designated P, the latter M. The method of experiment was to select a mixed diet of meat and vegetables of known composition, and having obtained nitrogenous equilibrium to replace it by a wholly vegetable diet. Both subjects were carefully weighed daily, the weights were also taken of each of the food constituents, and of the urine and f~eces. The nitrogen of the urine was estimated by Kjeldahls' process, a modified form of which was also found to answer well for the solid excreta. The first or mixed experimental diet of P and N[ consisted of meat, milk, butter, white bread, biscuits, potatoes, rice, sugar, oranges, with a little tea, red wine, and tokay. The different daily amounts reduced to English grains of food equivalents contained in this diet are as follows : Daily quantities consumed by P and M of food equivalents in the mixed diet. e. 4. Grains.

Grains.

Nitrogen of extractive matters ...... I7.o 95 Nitrogen of true digestible albumen 243"6 I66"o Non-dlgestible nitrogen............... x9"6 15 6 Fat ...................................... 1o89"o ~o38 o Starchy nitrogen free matters ...... 436z'o 343° o Sugar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I799"o 1799"o Alcohol ................................ I28 o 128 o After the experimentalists had consumed this diet for five weeks, it was replaced by experimental diet No. 2. Here much difficulty was experienced in so arranging matters as to make the diets, so far as vegetable albumen and general characters were concerned, comparative. After several attempts a daily food of the following ingredients was chosen : Grey and green peas, small white beans (phaseolus vulgaris), butter, Liebig's extract of meat, white bread, biscuits, potatoes, oranges, a little tea, tokay, and red wine. The daily quantities expressed in food equivalents were as follows : - ~. M. Grains.

Grains.

Nitrogen of extractive matters...... 17"o 9.5 Nitrogen of true digestible albumen 2~8'6 169'7 Non-digestiblenitrogen ............... 58"o 34"5 Fat .......................................... xo89"o 1o4°.0 Starchy nitrogen-freematters......... 59o6o 4491"o Sugar....................................... 273 "6 275"0 Alcohol .................................... Io8"o x28"o The total daily cost of the mixed diet for the two persons was 2"6 x marks, for the vegetable diet 2"22 marks ; but in the case of the latter the oven

HEALTH.

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required to be heated daily for nine hours, while with the mixed diet of meat and vegetables" the oven was heated for one hour and a half daily. The results of the whole experiment may be summed up in a very few words. Vegetable albumen weight for weight is equivalent to animal albumen, the nitrogenous balance between income and output being equal with either and health maintained. There was some discomfort experienced from flatulence and constipation from the ingestion of the peas and beans which leads Dr. Rutgers to condemn an exclusively vegetable diet. It is to be noted that the acidity of the stomach and urine was found to be less on the vegetable than on the mixed diet. The question of relative cost is chiefly to be determined by the expense of the fuel used in the different duration of cooking the two diets. FISH V. M E A T .

The great advantage in the point of cost of fish in comparison with meat has frequently been shown ; for instance it has been calculated that the amount of water-free butchers' meat which can be bought for id. expressed in food equivalents is a~ follows :--~ Grains. Albuminoids . . . . . . . . . . . . 76"o Fat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2o4"o Salts . . . . . . . . . . . . 4"o 284"0 While xd. of cod fish will usually purchase-Grains.

Albuminoids . . . . . . . . . . . . . Fat .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Salts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

429"o 7o o 22"o ,52I "O

A statement which gives 353 grains more of albuminoids for the same money. Nevertheless it had still to be shown that the albuminoids of meat and fish were equally available for nutriment, a recent research of W. O. Atwater, published in the Zeitschrift f. Biologie (XXIV. Bd. i hft.) gives the necessary data for settling this point. I n experiments on men he found the amount digested and excreted, or wasted as follows : BUTCHERS' i~[EAT. Digested per cent.

Dry Substance Albuminoids Fat ... Saline Matters

......... ......... ......... "" t't~n~'f-'. "'"

95'7 97 "5 94'8 78"5

Digested per cent.

Excreted per cent.

4"3 2"5 5TM 2x'5 Excreted per cent.

Dry Substance . . . . . . . . . 95"I 49 Albuminoids ......... 98"o 2"o Fat ......... 91"o 90 Saline Matiers . . . . . . . . . 77"5 zz'5 The difference is then a little in favour of fish. These facts are useful to bear in mind in arranging cheap diets for public institutions, such as workhouses and prisons. * Diet in relation to I t e a i t h and W o r k , b y Alex. W y n t e r

Blyth, London, 1884.