Raw Foods: A Nut For Our Housemothers to Crack

This is the first article in July of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on July 4, 1909, and is an article on the benefits of raw foods like nuts.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

Raw Foods: A Nut For Our Housemothers to Crack

I HAD written out the caption of another paper for this week’s discussion when the mail was brought in. A thick letter, bearing a California postmark, dropped from the bag when it was opened. After reading all the shorter epistles, as is my wont, I “tackled” the bulky missive and did not lay it down until the last word was read. Then I turned back to the first page and went over it a second time.

It is well written, and with honesty so evident and earnestness so unfeigned that I cannot cavil at the sentiments therein expressed. A long half hour of musing—a veritable brown study—resulted in the determination to substitute the California woman’s dissertation upon raw foods for the talk I had planned.

Before yielding the floor to her, let me remark that here is no new theory, although the application of it to this particular matter, the reduction of obesity, may be novel. Ten years and more ago the papers teemed with arguments for and against raw foods as the exclusive diet of the human species. We received samples of sun-baked bread and flour ground from desiccated vegetables, and circulars setting forth the superiority of dried fruits and nut pastes to cooked desserts. We were invited to lectures illustrated by the exhibition of robust boys, and men with sinews of steel, who had been fed from the cradle upon raw carrots, potatoes and turnips and who could not abide the thought of spoiling the kindly foods of the earth by killing the natural juices with fire, and thus changing the chemical properties designed by nature for the sustenance and upbuilding of her favorite child—man as the Creator meant him to be.

An Open Question.

As a rule of wide application, we have remained unconverted. The kitchen range, condemned by the teachers of the new school—which they tell us is the old—as an altar where-upon reek unholf sacrifices to the depraved tastes of an artificial civilization, burns steadily, and odors more fragrant than incense, to the senses of degenerate flesh-eaters, titillate our nostrils with the incoming and the outgoing of each day.

Thus stands the case I shall submit to our enlightened constituency—candid and broadminded as I have ever found it to be.

How much of practical truth is there in theory that uncooked foods are—or should be—the natural diet of the men, women and children of our age? Would the practice strenuously defended by the apostles of the school I have spoken of, banish disease and make athletes of our race? Or is the new school but one of the hundred fads that have their little day, and die, leaving gastronomic and culinary lore as they have been form the beginning of all the time we have known and read of?

I ask a free expression of opinion from our intelligent members. Can we live upon the provender that contents graminivorous animals? Are we sinning against our bodies and minds and controverting God’s designs in and for us?

A Peculiar Diet.

Now for our California letter, for which I bespeak a respectful perusal:

“I have read the appeal of ‘A Frightened Woman,’ and, having been at one time in the same trouble, I feel that I must tell her of my experience.”

“I am five feet three inches in height, and from 130 to 135 pounds in weight is as much as I could carry gracefully. So when I began to take on flesh, and kept up the habit, I was much annoyed, and when I reached 170 pounds I also was ‘frightened,’ and finally consulted our family physician. He said, ‘It’s nothing! You are taking on flesh and you should take more exercise.’”

“Now, I dislike to ‘take exercise,’ and, as the effect lasts only as long as the exercises are continued I didn’t try his prescription.”

“I was, likewise, very much troubled with rheumatism, and longed for help just as this correspondent from Columbus, O., wishes to get relief.”

“Just about this time some acquaintances from Pasadena called. They believe thoroughly in ‘raw foods,’ and live according to their belief. I had no faith whatever in the theory. They were enthusiastic about it and were confident that it would help me. I was glad enough, by that time, to try something.”

“The consequences were far beyond my highest expectations. In six weeks I lost 30 pounds, and that without taking a daily walk or any kind of exercise. And after I had arrived at normal weight I never lost another pound in a year. Besides this great benefit I was entirely cured of rheumatism.”

“It is now two years since I started with this system. I have not had a twinge of rheumatism, and our baby, who is nine months old, is the healthiest and best child I ever saw, while the older children suffered in infancy from poor digestion and other ailments resulting from malnutrition.”

“I shall be happy to confer with any one who wishes to know the particulars of the system, and who is willing to try it. One thing is sure; one doesn’t have to starve one’s self. I have found numbers of people who are so fond of ‘good things to eat’ that they won’t try anything which restricts them in that respect.”

“I send you an account of how I used the raw foods. I can’t say enough in praise of the results, but after being accustomed to eat cooked foods for a lifetime it takes ‘lots’ of determination to continue a long time in the new way.”

“The raw food method, as I took it, was to eat nothing that had been cooked—no meat, eggs, butter or milk—and to drink nothing but water, but plenty of that.”

“One meal a day is sufficient. In two or three days one gets used to this. About 4 P.M., or later, eat some fruit—as much or as little as you like. After this, some raw vegetables, with neither pepper, salt, sugar nor other helps to taste. I ate tomatoes, peas, lettuce, onions and cucumbers—one or more kinds, and as much or as little as I cared for—and always nuts. These were English walnuts and almonds, they being my favorites. They seem to supply all the fats I needed. Finally, I ate two teaspoonfuls of wheat, whole. One may grind it if one likes it better that way. I also took two spoonfuls of dried peas, ground, and sometimes I ate a spoonful of whole flaxseed.”

“All these must be eaten dry and, of course, very slowly, the wheat especially, as it is the foundation of the diet. After this meal one may easily go 24 hours and feel better for not eating more. In all of this food one should swallow only what is thoroughly dissolved in the mouth. The rest, fiber and skins, must be rejected, and never taken into the stomach.”

“Mrs. F.M.G. (Hollywood, Cal.).”

Lest some skeptical meat-eater may suspect me of palming off a burlesque upon a credulous audience, let me remind him that the address in a full of our enthusiastic vegetarian who finds one meal per diem all she requires to keep her well and strong and contented awaits the call of any one who would like to consult her further with regard to the extraordinary system she exploits. The practical and sensible housemother should look at all sides of the question (and of all questions) before discarding it in toto. And let us confess on some hot day in early summer that there are alluring features in a system which involves neither fire nor other preparation for feeding the body than the exertion of champing a handful of wheat and peas into a digestible paste, winding up the solitary meal of the 24 hours with a spoonful or two of nuts as a dessert. No heat in kitchen or dining room—in fact, no kitchen! And, to parody the blissful anticipation of the “old lady who lived where help wasn’t hired—“

Everything there will be quite to our wishes,
For where there’s no cooking there’ll be no washing of dishes.

Seriously, will our doctors and dietitians favor us with a professional verdict in the case? Were carnivorous teeth lacking in the dental outfit of the original human being? Are they one of the many “inventions” which the depraved descendants have “sought out?” Or a blunder in the making which the latter-day reformer is bent upon setting right?

How far may vegetarianism be carried with advantage to the race?

Marion Harland

Meals for a Week
The Housemothers’ Exchange

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