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Advent of Nuts into the Nations List of Staple Foods 
Nut Articles Page
Dr. J. H. Kellogg's Speech in the year 1917 at the Eighth Annual Meeting of the Northern Nut Growers Association

In these days when a condition of food shortage exists in the greater part of the civilized world, any question which concerns a nation's food supply is of public interest.

Food conservation is the great question of the hour. Visions of vanishing steaks and chops alarm the overfed and rising prices of all foodstuffs pinch the bills of fare of the poor.
It may easily be shown that most of all the hardships which the civilized world is suffering as regards food supply is due to lack of understanding and of foresight.
The fundamental error is the popular faith in the high protein ration. The physiologists are at least partly at fault. Liebig's dictum, which made protein the essential food factor in supporting work, has misled the whole civilized world for more than half a century. The dietaries of institutions, armies, whole nations have been based upon a conception which modern science has shown to be utterly false, and the result has been an economic loss which staggers belief, and a destruction of human life and efficiency which overshadows every other malign influence.
To properly appreciate the place of nuts in the national dietary we must have in mind a clear conception of the nature of food as revealed to us in the light of modern laboratory studies of human nutrition and metabolism.
Food is to an animal what soil is to a plant. It is the soil out of which we grew. What we eat today is walking around and talking tomorrow. The most marvelous of miracles is the transmutation of common foodstuffs into men and women, the transfiguration of bread, potatoes and beefsteak into human intelligence, grace, beauty and noble action. We read in holy writ how the wandering Israelites were abundantly fed in the Assyrian desert with manna from the skies and marvel at the Providence which saved a million souls from death, forgetting that every harvest is a repetition of the same miracle, that each morsel of food we eat is a gift of Heaven conveyed to us by a sunbeam. Food is simply sunshine captured by the chlorophyll of plants and served up to us in tiny bundles called molecules, which, when torn apart in our bodies by the processes of digestion and assimilation release the captured energy which warms us with heat brought from the sun and shines out in human thought and action.
It is less than a century since Liebig and Lehmann and their pupils began to unravel the mystery of food. In recent years no subject has received more assiduous attention from scientific men, and none has been made the object of more constant or more profound research than the questions of food and food supply. The feeding of animals and men is without question the most pressing and vital of all economic problems.
The labors of Voit and Pettenkofer, Rubner, Zuntz, Atwater, Benedict, Chittenden, Mendel, Lusk and Hindhede have demonstrated that there is the closest relation between food supply or food selection and human efficiency. In fact, it has been clearly shown that the quality of the food intake is just as directly and as closely related to the question of human efficiency as is the quality and quantity of gasoline to the efficiency of an automobile.
In fact it has been established as a fundamental principle in human physiology that food is fuel. Life is a combustion process.
The human body is a machine which may be likened to a locomotive—it is a self-controlling, self-supporting, self-repairing mechanism. As the locomotive rushes along the iron road, pulling after it a thousand-ton cargo of produce or manufactured wares or human freight sufficient to start a town or stock a political convention its enormous expenditure of energy is maintained by the burning of coal from the tender which is replenished at every stopping place. The snorting-monster at the head of the rushing procession gets hungry and has to have a lunch every few miles along the way. After a run of a hundred miles or so the engine leaves the train and goes into a roundhouse for repairs; an iron belt has dropped out or a brass nut has been shaken off. Every lost or damaged part of the metal leviathan is replaced, and then it is ready for another century run.
The human body is wonderfully like the locomotive. It pulls or carries loads, it expends energy, it consumes fuel and has to stop at meal stations to coal up; it has to go off duty periodically for repairs. The body needs just what the locomotive needs—fuel to furnish energy and material for repair of the machinery.
Food differs from fuel chiefly in the one particular, that in each little packet of food done up by Mother Nature there is placed along with the fuel for burning a tiny bit of material to be used for repair of the machine. In other words, food represents in its composition both the coal and the metal repair materials of the locomotive. The starch, sugar and fat of foods are the coal and the protein or albumin is the metal repair stuff. Here we see at once the reason why starch and sugar and fat are so abundant in our foodstuffs, while protein or albumin is in quantity a minor element.
But there are other differences between food and common fuel which are worthy of mention. The water and the salts are essential to meet the body's needs, especially the various mineral elements, lime, soda, potash and iron. All these we must have—lime for the bones and nerves, soda and potash to neutralize the harmful acid products of combustion processes, and iron for the blood.
All these are found in normal foodstuffs, but in greatly varying proportions, so that a pretty large variety of foods must be eaten to make sure that each of the different food principles required for perfect nutrition are supplied in ample quantity.
In recent years science has discovered another and most surprising property of food in which it transcends all other fuel substances as a diamond from the Transvaal outshines a lump of coal. Natural food contains vitamines. It has long been known that an exclusive rice diet sometimes causes beri-beri, a form of general neuritis, and that a diet of dry cereals and preserved food in time gives rise to scurvy, but the reason was a profound mystery. In very recent years it has been learned that the real cause of beri-beri and scurvy is the lack of vitamines which are associated with the bran of cereals and so are removed in the process of polishing rice and in the bolting of wheat and other grains.
Vitamines do not enter into the composition of the body as do other food principles, but they are somehow necessary to activate or render active the various subtle elements which are essential to good nutrition.
There are several kinds of vitamines. Some are associated with the bran of cereals, other with the juices of fruits. Some are easily destroyed by heat, while others survive a boiling temperature. The discovery of vitamines must stand as one of the most masterly achievements of modern science, even outshining in brilliancy the discovery of radium. It was only by the most persevering efforts and the application of all the refinements of modern chemical technic that the chemist, Funk, was able to capture and identify this most subtle but marvelously potent element of the food. This discovery has cleared up a long category of medical mysteries. We now know not only the cause of beri-beri and scurvy and the simple method of cure by supplying vitamine-containing foods, but within a very short time it has been shown that rickets and pellagra are likewise deficiency diseases, probably due to lack of vitamines, and in a recent discussion before the New York Academy of Medicine by Funk, Holt, Jacobi and others, it was maintained that vast multitudes of people are suffering from disorders of nutrition due to the same cause.
Osborne a few years ago conducted experiments which demonstrated that something more than pure food elements and salts is essential for growth and development. They found that rats fed on starch and fat lived only four to eight weeks. When protein was added they sometimes lived and grew and sometimes remained stunted or died. It was thus evident that proteins differ. Their observations proved very clearly that there are perfect and imperfect proteins. The protein of corn, zein, for example, was shown to be incapable of supporting life. With the addition of a chemical fraction, tryptophan, obtained from another protein, the rats lived, but did not grow. By adding another fractional protein, lysin, the rats were made to thrive.
A minute study of the subject by Osborne, Mendel and numerous other physiologic chemists have shown that a perfect protein is composed of more than a dozen different bodies called amino-acids, each of which must be present in the right proportion to enable the body to use the protein in body building. Each plant produces its one peculiar kind of protein. The protein of milk, caseine, is a perfect protein. Eggs and meat, of course, supply complete proteins, but among plants there are many imperfect proteins.
McCollum has demonstrated that grains, either singly or in combination will not maintain life and growth. The same is true of a mixture of grains with peas or navy beans. Another element is lacking which must be supplied to support life and growth.

With these facts before us we are prepared to inquire what place in the dietary are nuts prepared to fill? With few exceptions nuts contain little carbohydrate (starch or sugar). They are, however, rich in fat and protein. On account of their high fat content they are the most highly concentrated of all natural foods. A pound of nuts contains on an average more than 3,000 calories or food units, double the amount supplied by grains, four times as much as average meats and ten times as much as average fruits or vegetables.
For example, according to Jaffi's table, ten of our common nuts contain on an average 20.7 per cent. of protein, 53 per cent. of fat and 18 per cent. of carbohydrate, as shown in the following table:

Pine nut


Meat (round steaks) gives 19.8 per cent. of protein and 15.6 per cent. of fat, with no carbohydrate. A pound of average nuts contains the equivalent of a pound of beefsteak, and in addition, nearly half a pound of butter and a third of a loaf of bread. 

A nut is, in fact, a sort of vegetable meat. Its composition is much the same as that of fat meat, only it is in much more concentrated form.

There can be no doubt that the nut is a highly concentrated food. The next question naturally is, can the body utilize the energy stored in nuts as readily as that supplied by meat products, for example.
The notion that nuts are difficult of digestion has really no foundation in fact. The idea is probably the natural outgrowth of the custom of eating nuts at the close of a meal when an abundance, more likely a super-abundance, of highly nutritious foods has already been eaten, and the equally injurious custom of eating nuts between meals. Neglect of thorough mastication must also be mentioned as a possible cause of indigestion following the use of nuts. Nuts are generally eaten dry and have a firm hard flesh which requires thorough use of the organs of mastication to prepare them for the action of the several digestive juices. Experiments made in Germany showed that nuts are not digested at all, but pass through the alimentary canal like foreign bodies unless reduced to a smooth paste before swallowing. Particles of nuts the size of small seeds wholly escaped digestion.
Having been for more than fifty years actively interested in promoting the use of nuts as a staple food, I have given considerable thought and study to their dietetic value and have made many experiments. About twenty-five years ago it occurred to me that one of the above objections to the extensive dietetic use of nuts might be overcome by mechanical preparation of the nut before serving so as to reduce it to a smooth paste and thus insure the preparation for digestion which the average eater is prone to neglect. 

My first experiments were with the peanut. The result was a product which I called peanut butter. I was much surprised at the readiness with which the product sprang into public favor. Several years ago I was informed by a wholesale grocer of Chicago that the firm's sales of peanut butter amounted on an average to a carload a week. I think it is safe to estimate that not less than one thousand carloads of this product are annually consumed in this country. The increased demand for peanuts for making peanut butter led to the development of "corners" in the peanut market, and more than doubled the price of the shelled nuts and to a marked degree influenced the annual production. The nut butter idea also caught on in England.

I am citing my experience with the peanut not for the purpose of recommending this product, for I am obliged to confess that I was soon compelled to abandon the use of peanut butter prepared from roasted nuts for the reason that the process of roasting renders the nut indigestible to such a degree that it was not adapted to the use of invalids. I only mention the circumstance as an illustration of the readiness with which the public accepts a new dietetic idea when it happens to strike the popular fancy.
Ways may be found to render the use of nuts practical by adapting them to our culinary and dietetic customs and to overcome the popular objections to their use by a widespread and efficient campaign of education. Other nuts, when crushed, made most delicious "butters," as easily digestible as cream, since they did not require roasting. I later found ways for preparing the peanut without roasting.

The fats of nuts, their chief food principle, are the most digestible of all forms of fat. Having a low melting point they are far more digestible than most animal fats. Hippocrates noted that the stearin of eels was difficult of digestion. The indigestibility of beef and mutton fat has long been recognized. The fat of nuts much more closely resembles human fat than do fats of the sort mentioned. The importance of this will be appreciated when attention is called to the fact that fats entering the body do not undergo the transformation changes which take place in other foodstuffs; for example, protein in the process of digestion is broken into its ultimate molecular units. Starch is transformed into sugar which serves as fuel to the body, but fats are so slightly modified in the process of digestion and absorption that after reaching the blood and the tissues they are reconstructed into the original form in which they are eaten, that is, beef fat is deposited in the tissues as beef fat without undergoing any chemical change whatever; mutton fat is deposited as mutton fat; lard as pig fat, etc. When the body makes its own fat from starch or sugar, the natural source of this tissue element, the product formed is sui generis and must be better adapted to the body uses than the animal fat which was sui generis to a pig, a sheep or a goat. It is certainly a pleasant thought that one who rounds out his figure with the luscious fatness of nuts may felicitate himself upon the fact that his tissues are participating in the sweetness of the nut rather than the relic of the sty and the shambles.

It is also worthy of note that the fat of nuts exists in a finely divided state, and that in the chewing of nuts a fine emulsion is produced so that nut fats enter the stomach in a form best adapted for prompt digestion.
Another question which will naturally arise is this: if nuts are to be granted the place of a staple in our list of food supplies will it be safe to accept them as a substitute for flesh foods?
Beef steak has become almost a fetish with many people, but the experiments of Chittenden and others have demonstrated that the amount of protein needed by the body daily is so small that it is scarcely possible to arrange a bill of fare to include flesh foods without making the protein intake excessive. This is because the ordinary foodstuffs other than meat contain a sufficient amount of protein to meet the needs of the body. Nuts present their protein in combination with so large a proportion of easily digestible fat that there is comparatively little danger of getting an excess.

It is also worthy of note that the protein of nuts is superior in quality to that of grains and vegetables. The critically careful analyses made in recent years have shown that the proteins of nuts, at least of a number of them, contain all the elements needed for building up complete body proteins, in other words, nuts furnish perfect proteins, which are not supplied so abundantly by any other vegetable product.

This fact places the nut in an exceedingly important position as a foodstuff. In face of vanishing meat supplies it is most comforting to know that meats of all sorts may be safely replaced by nuts not only without loss, but with a decided gain. 

Nuts have several advantages over flesh foods which are well worth considering.
1. Nuts are free from waste products, uric acid, urea, carmine and other tissue wastes.
2. Nuts are aseptic, free from putrefactive bacteria and do not readily undergo decay either in the body or outside of it. Meats, on the other hand, are practically always in an advanced stage of putrefaction, as found in the meat markets. Ordinarily meats contain from three million to ten times that number of bacteria per ounce, and such meats as hamburger steak often contain more than a billion putrefactive organisms to the ounce. Nuts are clean and sweet.
3. Nuts are free from trichinae, tapeworm and other parasites, as well as the infections due to specific disease. Nuts are in good health when gathered and remain so until eaten. 

The contrast between the delectable product of the beautiful walnut, chestnut or pecan tree and the abattoir recalls the story of the Tennessee school teacher who was told when she made inquiry about a certain shoulder of pork which had been promised in part payment of services, but had not arrived: "Dad didn't kill the pig." "And why not," said the teacher. "Because," replied the observing youngster, "he got well." Nearly all the cows slaughtered are tuberculous. They are killed to be eaten because too sick to longer serve as community wet nurses.
That nuts are competent to serve as staple foods might be inferred from a fact to which Professor Matthews, of the New York Museum of Natural History, calls attention to, to wit, that our remote ancestors, the first mammals, were all nut and fruit eaters. They may have gobbled an insect now and then, but their staple food was fruits and nuts, with tender shoots and succulent roots, which is still true of those old fashioned forest folks, the primates of which the orang outang, the chimpanzee and the gorilla are consistent representatives, while their near relative, also a primate, civilized man, has departed from his original bill of fare and has exploited the bills of fare of the whole animal kingdom.
The keeper of the famous big apes of the London Zoo informed me that they were never given meat. Even the small monkeys generally regarded as insectivorous, were confined to a rigid vegetarian fare and were thriving.
Whole races of men, comprising many millions, live their entire lives without meats of any sort, and when fed a sufficient amount are wonderfully vigorous, prolific, enduring and intelligent. Witness the Brahmins of India, the Buddists of China and Japan and the teeming millions of Central Africa.
Carl Mann, the winner of the great walking match between Berlin and Dresden, performed his great feat on a diet of nuts with lettuce and fruits. The Finn Kilmamen, the world's greatest runner, eats no meat. Weston, the long-distance champion, never eats meat when taking a long walk. The Faramahara Indians, the fleetest and most enduring runners in the world are strict vegetarians. The gorilla, the king of the Congo forests, is a nut feeder.Milo, the mighty Greek, was a flesh abstainer, as was also Pythagoras, the first of the Greek philosophers, Seneca, the noble Roman Senator, and Plutarch, the famous biographer. The writer has excluded meat from his diet for more than fifty years, and has within the last forty years, supervised the treatment of more than a hundred thousand sick people at the Battle Creek Sanitarium on a meatless diet.
Even carnivorous animals nourish on a diet of nuts with other vegetable foods and cooked cereals. The Turks mix nuts with their pilaff of rice and the Armenians add nuts to their baalghoor, a dish prepared from wheat which has been cooked and dried.
That nuts are not only competent to serve as a staple food, but that they may fill a very important place as accessory foods in supplementing the imperfect proteins of the grains and vegetables is shown in a very conclusive way by an extended research by Dr. Hoobler, of Detroit.
Before describing Dr. Hoobler's experiment I may be allowed to explain that some years ago, in 1899, I was asked by the then United States Secretary of Agriculture to undertake experiments for the purpose of providing a vegetable substitute for meat. Dr. Dabney said there was no doubt that the time would come when such substitutes would be needed on account of the scarcity of meat. I succeeded in developing several products which have come to be quite widely known and used more or less extensively in this country and Europe. Among these were Protose (resembling potted meat) and malted nuts, a soluble product somewhat resembling malted milk. It was noted that the malted nuts when used by nursing mothers greatly increased the flow of milk and promoted the health of the infant. Recently Dr. Hoobler undertook an extensive feeding experiment with nursing mothers and wet nurses as subjects. He made use of these nut preparations as well as of ordinary nuts and compared the results with various combinations into which meat and milk entered in various proportions. He found that a diet of fruits, grains and vegetables alone gave a very poor quality of milk, but when nuts were added the result was a milk supply superior in quantity and quality to any other combination of foodstuffs, not excepting those which included liberal quantities of milk, meat and eggs. From this it appears that nuts possess such superior qualities as supplementary or accessory foods that they are able to replace not only meats, but even eggs and milk in the dietary. The full account of Dr. Hoobler's interesting observations will be found in the Journal of the American Medical Association for August 11, 1917.
Extensive feeding experiments are now being conducted at the research laboratory of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, which it is hoped will develop still other points of interest respecting the superior nutritive properties of the choicest and most remarkable of all the food products which are handed to us from the fertile laboratory of the vegetable world.
Another and most interesting phase of my subject is the relation of nut feeding to anaphylaxis. This newly coined word perhaps needs explanation for the benefit of my lay hearers. For many years it has been known that some persons were astonishingly sensitive to certain foods which indeed appeared to act as violent poisons. Oysters, shellfish, mutton, fish and other animal products, as well as a few vegetable products, especially honey, strawberries and buckwheat, were most likely to be the cause of these violent disturbances. More recently it has been found that cow's milk very often shows the same peculiarity. It is now known that this remarkable phenomenon is due to the fact that the body sometimes becomes sensitized to certain proteins which thereafter act as most violent poisons and may cause death. Sensitization to animal proteins is much the more frequent. In such cases nut products become a very precious resource. This is especially true with reference to cow's milk.

Liquid nut preparations have saved the lives of hundreds of infants within the last twenty years. I have had the pleasure of meeting several fine looking young people who owed their lives to nut-feeding when other resources had failed. One case was particularly interesting. A telegram from a well-known Senator at Washington announced the fact that his infant daughter and only child was dying from mal-nutrition, as cow's milk and all the known infant foods had been found to disagree. I advised nut-feeding, and fortunately the prescription suited the case and the little one began to improve at once. When the physician in attendance learned that the child was eating nuts he vigorously protested, declaring that such a diet was preposterous and would certainly kill the infant, but the child flourished wonderfully on the liquid nut diet, eating almost nothing else for the first three years of her life, and today is a splendidly developed young woman, a brilliant witness to the food value of nuts.
I have by no means exhausted the physiologic phases of my subject, but will now turn a moment in concluding my paper, to its economic aspects.
The high price of nuts is constantly urged as an objection to their use as a staple. It is probable that a largely increased demand would lead to so great an increase in the supply that the cost of production, and hence the cost to the consumer, would be decreased. But even at the present prices the choicest varieties of nuts are cheaper than meats if equivalent food values are compared. 

This is clearly shown by the following table which indicates the amounts of various flesh foods which are equivalent to one pound of walnut meats.

Beef loin, lean
Beef ribs, lean
Beef neck, lean
Mutton leg, lean
Ham, lean
Chicken, broilers
Red bass
Frogs' legs
Evaporated cream

But the great economic importance of the encouragement of nut culture in every civilized land is best shown by comparing the amount of food which may be annually produced by an acre of land planted to nut trees and the same area devoted to the production of beef. I am credibly informed that two acres of land and two years are required to produce a steer weighing 600 pounds. The product of one acre for one year would be one-fourth as much, or 150 pounds of steer. The same land planted to walnut trees would produce, if I am correctly informed, an average of at least 100 pounds per tree per annum for the first twenty years. Forty trees to the acre would aggregate 4,000 pounds of nuts, or 1,000 pounds of walnut meats. The highest food value which could be ascribed to the 150 pounds of beef would be 150,000 calories or food units. The food value of the nut meats would be 3,000,000 calories, or twenty times as much food from the nut trees as from the fattened steer, and food of the same general character, protein and fat, but of superior quality.

One acre of walnut trees will produce every year food equal to:
14,000 lbs. red bass (a ship load).
3,000 lbs. beef (five steers).
7,500 lbs. chicken broilers.
15,000 lbs. lobsters.
10,000 lbs. oysters.
60,000 eggs (5,000 dozen).
4,000 qts. milk.
A ton of mutton (13 sheep).
250,000 frogs.

And when one acre will do so much, think of the product of a million acres.
Ten times the product of all the fisheries of the country.
Half as much as all the poultry of the country.
One seventh as much as all the beef produced.
More than twice the value of all the sheep.
Half as much as all the pork.

And many millions of acres may be thus utilized in nut culture.
And the walnut is not the only promising food tree. The hickory,
the pecan, the butternut, the filbert and the piñon
are all capable of producing equal or greater results.
A single acre of nut trees will produce protein enough to feed four persons a year and fat enough for twice that number of average persons. So 25,000,000 acres of nut trees would more than supply the whole people of the United States with their two most expensive food stuffs. Cereals and fresh vegetables, our cheapest foods, would be needed for the carbohydrate portion of the dietary. Just think of it. A little nut orchard 200 miles square supplying one-third enough food to feed one hundred million of citizens. The trouble is the frogs and cattle are eating up our food supplies. We feed a steer 100 pounds of food and get back only 2.8 pounds. If we plant 10 pounds of corn we get back 500 pounds. If we plant one walnut we get back in twenty harvests a ton of choicest food. In nut culture there is a treasury of wealth and health and national prosperity and safety that is at present little appreciated.

Here is a veritable treasury of wealth, a potential food supply which may save the world from any suggestion of hunger for centuries to come if properly utilized. Every man who cuts down a timber tree should be required to plant a nut tree. A nut tree has a double value. It produces valuable timber and yields every year a rich harvest of food while it is growing.
Every highway should be lined with nut trees. Nut trees will grow on land on which no other crop will grow and which is even worthless for grazing. The piñon flourishes in the bleak and barren peaks of the rockies.
The nut should no longer be considered a table luxury. It should become a staple article of food and may most profitably replace the pork and meats of various sorts which are inferior foods and are recognized as prolific sources of disease.

Ten nut trees planted for each inhabitant will insure the country against any possibility of food shortage. A row of nut trees on each side of our 5,000,000 miles of country roads will provide for a population of 160,000,000. With a vanishing animal industry, nut culture offers the only practical solution of the question of food supply. As the late Prof. Virchow said, "The future is with the vegetarians."
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