Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 27.djvu/96

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84
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

more fat than vegetable food. So much the worse for the human being, says Nature, when she prepares food.

But as a matter of practical fact there are no flesh-eaters among us, none who avail themselves of this higher proportion of albuminoids and fat. We all practically admit every day, in eating our ordinary English dinner, that this excess of nitrogenous matter and fat is bad; we do so by mixing the meat with that particular vegetable which contains an excess of the carbo-hydrates (starch) with the smallest available quantity of albuminoids and fat. The slice of meat, diluted with the lump of potato, brings the whole down to about the average composition of a fairly-arranged vegetarian repast. When I speak of a vegetarian repast, I do not mean mere cabbages and potatoes, but properly selected, well-cooked, nutritious vegetable food. As an example, I will take Count Rumford's No. 1 soup, already described, without the bread, and in like manner take beef and potatoes without bread. Taking original weights, and assuming that the lump of potato weighed the same as the slice of meat, we get the following composition, according to the table given by Pavy, page 410:

Water. Albumen. Starch. Sugar. Fat. Salts.
Lean beef 72·00 19·30 . . . . . . . . 3·60 5·10
Potatoes 75·00 2·10 18·80 3·20 0·20 0·70
14·70 21·40 18·80 3·20 3·80 5·80
Mean composition of mixture 73·50 10·70 9·40 1·60 1·90 2·90

Rumford's soup (without the bread afterward added) was composed of equal measures of peas and pearl-barley, or barley-meal, and nearly equal weights. Their percentage composition as stated in above-named table is as follows:

Water. Albumen. Starch. Sugar. Fat. Salts.
Peas 15·00 23·00 55·40 2·00 2·10 2·50
Barley-meal 15·00 6·30 69·40 4·90 2·40 2·00
30·00 22·30 134·80 6·90 4·50 4·50
Mean composition of mixture 15·00 14·65 62·40 3·45 2·25 2·25

Here, then, in one hundred parts of the material of Rumford's half-penny dinner, as compared with the "mixed diet," we have forty per cent more of nitrogenous food, more than six and a half times as much carbo-hydrate in the form of starch, more than double the quantity of sugar, about seventeen per cent more of fat, and only a little less of salts (supplied by the salt which Rumford added). Thus the John Bull materials fall short of all the costly constituents, and only excel by their abundance of very cheap water.

This analysis supplies the explanation of what has puzzled many