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Several egg substitutes have appeared on the market. One of considerable food value is said to be made from skim milk and flour, probably slightly colored. Others seem to be chiefly starch highly colored. These cannot replace eggs in the diet, since they contain little nitrogen and almost no fat.
One “remarkable substitute for fresh eggs has recently been put upon the market with the claim that “the contents of this can is equal to and will do the work of thirty-six fresh eggs.” Examination shows it to consist almost wholly of artificially colored corn meal. The most astonishing thing about such frauds is that intelligent women can be found to buy them. The German immigrant woman would know better.
CEREAL FOODS - BARLEY, RICE, OATS, MAIZE,
RYE, AND WHEAT
HE term cereals has come to have a limited
significance since the universal introduction of breakfast foods.
The public needs to be reminded that there are only six or seven grains in common use and that the 365 brands of cereals must be made from these, and therefore that the same thing must be sold under many names.
Cereals all belong to the family of grasses, and some member of the group flourishes in every latitude. Barley grows even within the arctic circle, and thence southward are found, in the following order, oats, rye, wheat, maize, while within the tropics rice is found. The seeds of these plants have been used for the food of man from time immemorial. They are the most abundant of all food substances. The Egyptians have a tradition that barley was the first to be so used.
A general description will serve for all the seeds or kernels. The shape is from round to oval or oblong, with a groove on one side running the length of the kernel. This indentation serves to protect the germ which it incloses. Outside the germ are usually recognized three layers. The outer layer, which serves to hold the inner ones compactly together and to keep them dry, is made up chiefly of woody fiber, or cellulose, and is comparatively worthless for the purpose of nutrition. Next there are in most grains one or more layers of cells which contain nitrogenous and phosphatic compounds; while within, forming the body of the seed, is found the mass of starch granules, larger and smaller, with intermingled cells of the glutinous or albuminoid constituents. All these are supported in a loose framework of cellular tissue. The proportion of these constituents varies greatly in the different grains and in varieties of the same grain. Rice has the largest proportion of starch, and oats contain the most oily and phosphatic material.
The term flour is often used to designate the meal or powder obtained by the grinding of any species of grain or seed. But the use of the word in the United States is for the most part limited to the finely ground portion, the more starchy portion; while by the term meal — a Saxon word meaning finely ground, soft to the touch — is understood the product of the grinding of the whole grain. Both terms are generic, and are qualified by a descriptive adjective, as wheat flour, corn meal, etc.
Barley and rice are for the most part cooked whole ; oats and maize are coarsely crushed; while wheat and rye are finely ground and separated into the flour, or white sifted starch and gluten, and the husk or bran which is left after the bolting, as the sifting is technically called.
The greatest change in the habits of food consumption which the last twenty years has developed is in the greatly increased use of prepared cereals — both cereals which may be cooked quickly and those which may be eaten uncooked.
There are several causes contributing to this result. Chief of these is the money to be made by the quick marketing of a popular food. When a particular name begins to pall, the same material, or that combination with a slight variation in appearance, is put on the market under a new name. Prizes are offered for a name which will sell the packages most quickly. Much ingenuity has been spent on this manufacture of cereals into new shapes, and more on the advertising description of them. The constant demand for something new, as if Burbank could indeed use the wizard's wand on the grain fields, has flooded the market with prepared foods — a brand for every day in the year made from the varieties of grains known for thousands of years.
The introduction of gas stoves and the habit of a continental or meatless breakfast, often eaten in the living room, have created a demand for a tasty cereal to be served without the trouble of cooking. A morbid craving for variety and the too often poor quality of the cooked cereal served in boarding houses and hotels has also favored the use of the various “flakes," which make such admirable conveyors of cream and which crackle so delightfully.
There is little cause for alarm as to the introduction of poisonous substances înto these products. It may be possible that in some cases impure chemicals have been used, but it is very doubtful if direct addition of poison has occurred. The chief danger is to be found in the ignorance of the public as to food values and the needs of the body.
In order to furnish the heat and energy for a day's work or pleasure at least eight or ten ounces of carbohydrates and three ounces of fats are needed. These fluffy, Aaky materials occupy space, but have little weight compared with more solid food. Therefore the consumer is apt to be deceived as to the quantity. Again, these foods are partly transformed or predigested, so that they pass quickly into circulation, giving a satisfied feeling, which soon passes, leaving a hunger liable to be quieted by nibbling at candy, chocolate, or crackers between meals.
If deluged with rich cream and sugar the food value of the dish is greatly enhanced. The addition of the sugar, however, for a breakfast dish is not to be recommended. Fermentations inimical to the best assimilation of food are likely to arise.
It is interesting to note that in the recent discussion of pure food legislation the clause requiring the weight to be put on the package failed of enactment. That would have affected the cereal foods, for when many housewives realize that they pay twenty-five cents a pound for some fancy name, but for no more food value than they can obtain for two and a half or three cents, then they will count the cost of gas and time to see if they can afford the difference.
Full analyses and descriptions of the important brands have been made by the states of Wyoming, Maine, and Connecticut, for instance. From the published facts the following comparison is compiled :