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Calories. We may take a Calorie as the unit of nutrition, and a very convenient one it will be found, as I will presently attempt to show you. A working man occupied in moderate work must have four thousand Calories a day, of which he must assimilate about nine-tenths. These Calories
. must be derived from food which will yield starch in the proportion of three, nitrogen in the proportion of one, and fat in the proportion of one; say twenty-four hundred Calories derived from starchy material, eight hundred derived from nitrogenous material, eight hundred derived from fat.
These elements being established, it becomes a perfectly simple matter to compile a table of one hundred pounds of food, — meat, grain and vegetables, – to sort it chemically in the right proportions, in such a way that each pound will yield twelve hundred Calories. It follows that if a man buys three and one-half pounds of such food in due proportion every day, and cooks it in a proper manner, he will be fully nourished, and will waste very little.
I am engaged in compiling these tables. I have employed different people to get the prices at retail of grains, - oat
meal, corn meal, etc., - of bread, vegetables, roots, sugar, fish and meats, in different parts of Boston. I shall presently have these tables in form so that any one can make use of them. The man who can afford to buy the cheapest kinds of meat to be eaten with the best kinds of bread, grain and vegetables will be able to buy at the rate of one hundred pounds of food per month at three and one-half cents a pound, each pound yielding twelve hundred Calories. That comes to fourteen cents a day, ninety-eight cents a week. He will be fully and adequately nourished if that food is properly cooked. It can be properly cooked in the square oven, of which an example is before you. It can be properly cooked in these cooking pails of different kinds, from which I shall presently give you a taste of what I call “the gloritied hash,” made of the cheapest and toughest parts of meat.
There may, however, be very few persons who can afford to give the time to the selection of food which may be necessary in order to live at a dollar a week. Then one may take the medium qualities of meat combined with the best qualities of fish, grain and vegetables, and without any amount of trouble, care or attention one dollar and a half will cover the bill. If, however, you buy the best kinds in their season, of course without luxurious extravagance, like canvas-back ducks and tenderloin beef, two dollars a week covers the bill. Anything beyond two dollars a week spent in the nutrition of a man at active work is either spent for absolute luxury, or, what is the common practice, for absolute waste. The tables which I have prepared have not yet been completely and scientifically analyzed. By the time this address goes to press I shall be able to put them into this address.
Now I ask you a plain question. If the food of your operatives is badly selected and badly cooked, can you expect it to yield the potential energy, either mental or manual, which your work calls for? Will not your work of carding, spinning and weaving suffer from bad nutrition of your operatives? Have I any evidence that it does suffer? Not much; but there are some indications that have lately come under my observation which certainly squint in that direction. What is called industrial insurance — not these bogus assessment companies, but genuine life insurance, granted in small amounts on weekly or monthly payments,
is comparatively a new feature in this country. It has been taken up by one or more of the safest and most reputable life insurance companies.
There is an insurance company called the Prudential of London, doing a business of which the figures are almost incomprehensible. Now it has lately been stated to me by the medical adviser of one of these companies that they already have reason to regret that they placed agents to solicit insurance on the lives of some of the factory operatives in some of the cities of New England. They are poor lives, and if they are poor lives it is due to poor living; and if due to poor living, will not those who live poorly do poor work?
If the average of life and health is lower than in other occupations and other places, lower in some factory cities than it is in others, what is the reason? Is not the modern factory one of the best lighted, best ventilated and most wholesome places in which men or women can work? Has not the "devil's dust," as it used to be called, been almost wholly removed from almost every department ? Is it not true that in the greater part of your work, in order that the cotton may spin properly, you require fresh air, a relative humidity of about seventy-five, and about seventy degrees of heat? Is it not true that the best atmosphere for the spinning of cotton is that in which plants thrive best?
If human beings do not thrive under these conditions, when the work is not such as to impose any excessive strain upon the human body, what other fault can be found than fault with the mode of living? In other words may not the “poor lives” be due to bad food and bad feeding? This is one of my theories, a somewhat hasty generalization based on a statement which I have not yet verified, but it goes without saying that such may be the facts. Whether it is worth while for you to take up this question, or whether you will pass it by as a fad and not a fact, rests with you.
If there is a remedy within your reach it must be one that you can justify, not only as a matter of humanity but as a matter of profit. Will it pay to deal with the nutrition of your operatives, and to show them the way by which they may learn to nourish themselves adequately, completely, and in a most appetizing manner, at less cost than they do now? I think you can do this if you will, and I think you can make it pay, if not in one way, then in another.
In a rough-and-ready way I have made the following computations : If you can set apart a suitable room, one hundred feet long by fifteen feet wide, with a long table, which ought really to have a marble top or a slate top that can be kept
clean without any difficulty, one hundred persons can be seated comfortably at such a table, fifty on each side. Next to this you may provide an apartment one hundred feet long and ten feet wide, furnished with washing apparatus, one end set off for a smoking-room. Of course all this must be outside of your main factory building, where smoking cannot be permitted, — the rest of this room to be devoted to cooking. That would make twenty-five hundred feet of floor surface. If it were in the mill it would cost seventy-five cents a foot. In a separate building it might cost one dollar a foot, twenty-five hundred dollars.
Either in the dining-room or in the side room a range of Aladdin oven boxes can be set upon brackets, each with a very small gas jet burning not over one foot of gas per hour, perhaps less, underneath the box. Each man or woman who applies for the right to make use of this room may then bring two boxes of food material prepared to be cooked and one box of coffee or cocoa. These boxes may be brought in a wire frame which can be set into the Aladdin cooking box on reaching the mill; turn on the gas, light it, and at twelve o'clock a hot dinner will be ready, - appetizing and nutritious.
A capital of three thousand dollars will cover the entire cost of a plant that would accommodate one hundred men and women. Will it pay? Are there not enough men and women among your best and most intelligent people who would pay three dollars a year, twenty-five cents a month, for the privileges of using the premises? If so, that would yield a gross income of ten per cent. on your investment. Whether or not that man or that woman would earn higher wages and make goods at lower cost, I leave to the future to determine, if any of you adopt this theory and put it into practice.
You can begin with ten as well as with a hundred. Will it pay?
ADDENDA, TAKEN FROM AN ADDRESS LATELY
GIVEN IN NEW YORK.
As a rule the food of men and women is served without the slightest attention to proportions or to waste, following only under the pressure of necessity a sort of blind instinct. I do not propose to bring each man or each woman to a measured quantity every day; that would be very foolish to undertake; but may there not be certain broad and general rules, which when once laid down may serve to give direction to the purchase of food material, thereby assuring full nutrition with the saving of that vast waste which is almost a disgrace to this nation?
The chemical standards of nutrition which have been established by Professor Voit and others in Germany, by Sir Lyon Playfair, by Dr. Pavey and other competent authorities in England, vary in some measure from the American standard. What I name the American standard is that which has been elaborated mainly through the investigations of Prof. William 0. Atwater, Mrs. Ellen H. Richards and others. It contains a somewhat larger proportion of fat than the European dietaries; perhaps thereby becoming more suitable to the colder and more changeable conditions of the climate of the northern section of the United States.
Professor Atwater has converted the chemical units of nutrition in all the various dietaries of Europe and of the United States into units of heat or Calories. At this standard they are all substantially alike, even though they vary in some measure in their chemical elements. It is possible that the professor has builded better than he knew.
We may adopt the Calorie as the unit of nutrition. It may then become a very simple matter to prepare rules and tables that shall be a true guide to intelligent persons in the pur