A large raw vegetable salad with each dinner is one of the most important elements of the diet. As a preventive of disease, it is far superior to all the vaccines and serums ever devised. Salad eating, at least in this country, is a recent innovation and had its origin among those who have been dubbed food faddists. The addition of a suitable salad to a meal always improves the nutritional value of the meal.
At the turn of the century cooking was much worse than now and the diet more gross-flesh, bread and potatoes or beans three times a day, with an assortment of side dishes, cakes, pies, etc., that would have made a meal for a 600-pound boar, all jumbled together in the most abominable combinations. It was an era when a flesh, bread and potato diet with such accessory foods as butter, cream, mayonnaise, sugar and sweet desserts were the most common reliance of the people. Fresh fruits and vegetables were scarce in the diet.
At that time the medical profession was horrified at the thought of eating uncooked fruits and vegetables. There were germs on them! “There are typhoid germs on all uncooked vegetables.” But under the leadership of the “cranks,” “faddists” and “quacks” the people took to eating these raw foods, and as the fresh foods entered the diet the germs vanished. No typhoid resulted from eating these germ-laden foods. Today, even the most bacteriophobic physicians eat these foods uncooked, the only food they refuse to eat without first heat-sterilizing is milk. (It also supposedly contains typhoid and tubercular germs.)
Although popular eating is less gross than formerly, people still overeat. They have relieved their stomachs and bowels to some extent but have thrown the burden on the liver, pancreas and ductless glands. Today the people are eating far more raw (uncooked) fruits and vegetables. Lettuce, cucumbers, celery, apples, strawberries, citrus fruits, etc., are raised in enormous quantities and shipped by trainloads to all parts of the country. Trainloads of lettuce are now raised where wheelbarrow-loads were formerly raised.
Until well within the lifetime of the author the medical profession advised never to eat “raw” fruits and vegetables because of the germs they carried. Not until it was discovered that raw fruits and vegetables were the best sources of vitamins did they cease to warn against the germ-laden uncooked fruits and vegetables. (And this discovery came only after the profession was forced to recognize that people were getting well on diets of uncooked fruits and vegetables.) Indeed, they are still issuing the old warning when one goes into Mexico, India, China and elsewhere.
For physicians to have told their patients to accompany their beefsteak with a large combination salad of uncooked, non-starchy vegetables would have subjected them to ridicule. It would have been too easy for the people to trace the advice to its source in the hated diets of the faddists. So, they retired to their laboratories and came up with the discovery (the faddists had beaten them to the discovery) that the virtues of such a meal are due to the vitamin content of uncooked foods.
At those mutual admiration gatherings of physicians, called conventions, much is said, between smoking and drinking bouts, about diet, but in practice, the subject is avoided like the plague. It is a safe estimate that no less than 90% of the medical profession is giving no attention to diet, other than to ape popular sentiment on the subject. Many of them “believe in diet,” but, as with the weather, they “do nothing about it.” Every day the sick tell me that their physicians have advised them to eat what they please—that food has nothing to do with sickness.
One can listen to a physician talk loud and learnedly about vitamins, amino acids, food blends, calories, etc., and easily become persuaded that he knows what he is talking about. This is a mistake. The garrulousness of the profession is an acquired habit in the effort to see how much they can say about a subject of which they know nothing. Whole libraries of technical literature bear witness to their success.
The present-day hospital is a chuck-house, overfeeding its inmates on the same kinds of “good nourishing foods” that filled the hospitals in our grandfather’s day. In these institutions there is no “newer knowledge of nutrition.” Feeding a person who is said to be starving on such things as gelatin, alcohol, beef, tea, puddings, white bread, canned fruits and vegetables, pasteurized milk and such is a sure way of guaranteeing that the starvation shall be continued and accentuated.
To supplement a diet of this kind with vitamin pills and expect the patient to be well-nourished is the height of the ridiculous. Sooner or later the misled people are going to discover that vitamin pills are not satisfactory substitutes for uncooked fruits and vegetables. The medical profession resisted the effort to popularize the uncooked diet and science came forth with vitamin pills as a substitute, but the results of the pills have not been satisfactory. Vitamins should come from the orchard and garden, not from the drug store.
Nature turns out her products in a state of physiological balance and when we eat our foods as she produces them, they are not sources of trouble. But when we extract portions of her products, as when sugar is extracted from cane or beet or white flour is extracted from wheat, we eat an artificial product that is out of balance, lacking in many of the essentials of nutrition. The remedy for such a state of affairs is to eat whole, that is, unprocessed, unrefined and uncooked foods grown on fertile soil.
Vegetarianism comes in for much criticism and condemnation from the medical profession, which knows nothing about the subject of diet. When vegetarianism is defined as a system of diet that excludes flesh and the matter is allowed to rest there, with no well-defined rational or scientific adjustments of foods to the needs of the well and the sick, it can and will turn in many dietetic failures. When commercialism is permitted to force upon vegetarians a decided cereal bias, so that grains are prepared in many different ways to appeal to the palates of vegetarians, the vegetarian diet becomes decidedly unwholesome. Fortunately, in more recent years vegetarians have taken more avidly to uncooked nonstarchy vegetables and to fresh fruits. Among the health-conscious vegetarians, at least, better eating practices are in vogue.
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A salad of uncooked, non-starchy vegetables should accompany every protein and every starch meal. The common practice of eating shrimp salad, potato salad and similar salads will not suffice. Indeed, such dishes hardly merit the name salad. The salad should consist of such foods as lettuce, celery, cucumbers, green and red peppers (the nonpungent varieties), cabbage, tomatoes and other non-starchy vegetables. These foods should be served fresh and without salt, vinegar, olive oil, mayonnaise or dressings of any kind. Such “foods” are not recommended for salads nor to be eaten in any other way. Tomatoes should form part of the salad only when starches are not part of the meal.
To assure a plentiful supply of minerals and vitamins, a large salad, as suggested above, should accompany each protein and each carbohydrate meal. The customary salad consisting of two leaves of wilted lettuce and a slice of half-ripe tomato, topped off with a radish or pickled olive and a spoonful of greasy foul-tasting salad dressing, is not only unwholesome but does not meet the vitamin and mineral needs of a canary. A salad should be part of the most enjoyable food of a meal and will be if proper choices of salad materials are made.
Reprinted from the Hygienic Review