Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/162

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150
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
Oatmeal:
 
Water 7.7
Protein 15.1
Fats 7.1
Carbohydrates 68.1
Mineral matters 2.0
 Total nutrients 92.3
 Potential energy in one pound 1,845 calories.

Rye flour:
 
Water 13.1
Protein 6.7
Fats 0.8
Carbohydrates 78.7
Mineral matters 0.7
 Total nutrients 86.9
 Potential energy in one pound 1,620 calories.
 

It will be remarked that the difference between maize meal and wheat flour consists only in a slightly larger proportion of fats and a slightly less proportion of protein, a matter very easily balanced by giving consideration to the other kinds of food which may be used by the bread-eater. Again, it is hardly to be supposed that the Scotchmen who listened to Sir William Crookes admitted in their minds that wheat flour possessed any greater potential energy in the development either of muscle or of mind than the oatmeal to which they have been habituated for so many generations. I doubt if any New England Yankee who had been brought up on the diet of corn (maize) bread and baked beans, the latter supplying the protein element in abundance, would admit any greater development of the muscle or brain by exclusive dependence on wheat for the bread of life. It is not, however, my purpose to deal with the relative food values of wheat and other grains; it is simply to take up this extraordinary delusion of Sir William Crookes in respect to the potential of the wheat-producing area of this country. His theory is salvation by chemistry, and he rightfully calls attention to the necessity for obtaining a cheap and abundant supply of nitrogen. All the other elements for fertilizing the soil are relatively abundant at low cost, especially in this country. Our enormous supply of the phosphates of lime and potash gives assurance on this matter, and our one deficiency, or rather the one element heretofore of high cost, has been the necessary proportion of nitrogen required to maintain an even balance in the soil.

I am surprised that Sir William Crookes should attribute so little importance to the recent discovery of the influence of bacteria, which living and dying in nodules attached to the stalks of the