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Comment By the Author
The Physiological Side, by Eugene F. Du Bois, M.D
The Anthropological Side, by Earnest A. Hooton, Ph.D., ScD
- 1. Preliminaries and Speculation
- 2. The Home Life of Stone-Age Man
- 3. The Field Experience
- 4. The Laboratory Check
- 5. And Visit Your Dentist Twice a Year
- 6. Living on the Fat of the Land
- 7. The Blackleg in Shakespeare's Time
- 8. The Blackleg in Our Time
- 9. The Nature and Early History of Pemmican
- 10. The First Pemmican War
- 11. The Romance of Pemmican
- 12. Pemmican in Transition
- 13. The Second Pemmican War
Not by bread alone
Eating meat and fat for stay Lean and Healthy
original edition by THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 1946 - 1st digital edition 2016 by
David De Angelis
Comment BY THE AUTHOR
"Contoversial" was the label pinned on this first book's first edition. And why shouldn't it be? The main allegations it set out to controvert were live issues in 1946. The belief that man cannot be healthy on meat alone to a high age had by then perhaps already disappeared from the medical schools; but it was still widely held by the public, who for the most part still clung to the opinion that a high meat percentage in the diet was harmful, and that meat, or its effect, had to be "diluted" with things like carbohydrates. The last belief really meant that our forebears must have lived on a food pernicious to them through the aeons, the million or so years which preceded agriculture. For it is the consensus of the applicable sciences, and of history, that before agriculture most men lived most of the time by hunting and fishing, and by gathering things like eggs, shellfish, grubs, berries in season, and a few roots and salad-type vegetables all of which would bulk large but would not yield many calories. As to how things were before and after the coming of agriculture in the usual views of historians and scientists, which are background to our book and especially to this new edition, we quote from a recent and fascinating article by Johannes Iversen, anthropologist-botanist, in the magazine Scientific American of March, 1956, "Forest Clearance in the Stone Age." The article begins: "Perhaps the greatest single step forward in the history of mankind was the transition from hunting to agriculture. In the Mesolithic Age men lived by the spear, the bow and the fishing net. The change came independently at different times in different parts of the world." Historians and archaeologists believe generally that the shift from the hunter diet, mainly of meat, to the gradually increasing carbohydrate blend of the agriculturist came less than 15,000 years ago in China and the Near East; 5,000 years ago in Greece and Italy; 2,000 years ago in England (Julius Caesar saw agriculture being introduced there by Belgic settlers); and only 1,500 years ago in Scotland. If meat needs carbohydrate and other vegetable additives to make it wholesome, then the poor Eskimos were not eating healthfully till the last few decades. They should have been in wretched state along the north coast of Canada, particularly at Coronation Gulf, when I began to live among them in 1910 as the first white man most of them had ever seen. But, to the contrary, they seemed to me the healthiest people I had ever lived with. To spread abroad the news of how healthy and happy they and I were on meat alone was a large pan of the motive for writing this book. We do not disagree with Iversen's "perhaps the greatest single step forward in the history of mankind was the transition from hunting to agriculture," but we think an interpretation is needed. Carbohydrate, gift of the fanner to us, makes civilization possible; for now we produce many times more food on a unit of land; we have large families and leisure, we have built cities. But to make this a clear gain to man, it is necessary for him to turn a great pan of the carbohydrate into meat and milk by feeding it to stock. Otherwise he suffers in individual health; and in happiness, for the unhealthy are unhappy. And carbohydrates, as this book helps to explain, are not conducive to optimum health, at least not if taken as a high percentage of the meal. A distinguished orthodontist has said, in a passage we quote more at length hereafter, that the Eskimos "are paying for civilization with their teeth." And, as this book means to show, the decay of teeth is only one of several important losses in health we suffer as a price of that food abundance which enables us to dwell in large cities and have "a high standard of living." Because of limited space we confine ourselves from here on to comment on those two of our original thirteen chapters that have proved most controversial. These chapters we attempt to bring up to date, within the space allowed. They are the fifth, "And Visit Your Dentist Twice a Year," which, although no longer so controversial, needs some amplification; and the sixth, "Living on the Fat of the Land," which needs both addition of material and consideration of strong attacks against some of its contentions. In Chapter Five we consider only two points: what the first edition says about lack of tooth decay among Eskimos as long as they were on a hunter diet, exclusively of meat; and what it says about the Icelanders having been without dental caries during that part of their history, about 600 years, when they were on a herdsman diet, that is, on meat plus milk. We take Iceland first, because the new evidence there is more readily condensed. There never were aborigines in Iceland; and the blood of the present population stems mainly from Ireland and Norway, with a total of probably less than 10 per cent from Denmark, England, Scotland, and Sweden. From the beginning of the firmly historical period, around 870, till after 1100, Iceland had matenal commerce with Europe, and imported some carbohydrates. Recent excavations of churchyards and other burial places reveal traces of a little tooth decay. But after isoo, when commerce is considered to have ceased, there was no tooth decay; nor does any appear until after 1800, the approximate renewal date, by Iceland, of modern commerce with Europe. This information came to me in a letter from Kristjan Eldjar, Director of the National Museum, Reykjavik. He says it is now (1955) considered definitely established that there was no dental caries during those 600 years, anywhere in Iceland. Today's dietary there is about that of England, or of New England, and the caries rate is similar, with the regulation dentistry, toothbrushing, hard chewing of food for the good of the teeth, and the like—all, of course, with little result. During the decay-free period, 1200 to 1800, the foods of the Icelanders were, in descending caloric importance: milk and milk products, mutton, beef, fish. There were, as we said, no imported carbohydrates; the only local non-animal food of any importance was, and then only in some places, soups made of Iceland moss. The "moss," really a lichen, had to be secured by long journeys to the mountains, which journeys, the literature shows, were summer picnics—made more for fun than for food. It is Pelion upon Ossa, and carrying coals to Newcastle, to harp on it with an anthropologist that the tooth of a meat eater never decays. But the medical and related professions have seemed little impressed. Recently, however, signs of a new trend have come from the dentists, more especially perhaps from the orthodontists. For honors are descending on heretics who claim that, for healthy teeth, diet is more important than the toothbrush. An example is the belated recognition of Dr. Leuman M. Waugh, of the School of Dental and Oral Medicine, Columbia University, whose heresies, like many of my own, were derived from seeing what the European way of life is doing to the Eskimos. During his early days. Dr. Waugh made trips for five summers to Labrador, and discovered about tooth decay what Dr. William A. Thomas of Chicago was then discovering there about rickets: caries, like rickets, was worst where European foods were most eaten. Both troubles were nearly or quite absent where European goods were unknown or negligible. Later, through a number of seasons, Dr. Waugh had similar opportunities for study in Alaska, where he found like evidence and drew like conclusions. Through the expedient of living to a high age, Dr. Waugh has managed to be honored in his time and even by his own profession; as witness the Boston Daily Globe of i May 1956: "Dr. Waugh received the Albert H. Ketcham Memorial Award, highest honor of the American Association of Orthodontists, now holding their 52nd annual session at the Statler." Among the points of Dr. Waugh's address to the "more than 1200 members and guests" were these, according to the Globe: "Eskimos who'd never been exposed to civilization had the best teeth in the world. But [they] have been paying for civilization with their teeth. 'No Eskimo ever had decayed teeth until he got the white man's diet. . . . Eskimos have filthy mouths, too. Not much evidence there that keeping the mouth clean has anything to do with lack of cavities.' " But while these honors were in preparation, and the month before they were awarded, Columbia University more or less placed itself on record as still safely in the camp of the avoidcaries- by-hard-chewing school. For under date of April 1956, the Columbia Reporter had a paragraph on its "Morningside Mention" page: "Clues to dental caries were hunted recently among the Amazon Indians by Drs. Harts H. Neumann and Nicholas A. Di Salvo of the Faculty of Medicine. Their findings corroborate their theory that resistance to decay is related primarily to the pressure load placed on the teeth, i.e., that chewing with great pressure on hard foods results in 'work hardening' which causes teeth to become more resistant." In the 1946 edition our chapter "Living on the Fat of the Land" made a point of the high favor in which the Bible holds fat meats. We recited from the first book of Moses the account of the first recorded offering to Jehovah, where Cain brought vegetables and Abel "the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof"; and how "the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect." The Cain-Abel story reports the Lord of hosts direct, in the fourth chapter of Genesis. In Genesis 45:17-18 we learn by inference that both Jews and Egyptians thought well of a high fat diet: "And Pharaoh said unto Joseph . . . 'Take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.' " Our chapter tells also how we consulted eminent Bible scholars, in particular Dr. Edgar J. Goodspeed and his colleagues in Chicago, and learned their conviction that in this and similar passages the Old Testament Hebrews were thinking of fat mutton, or of mutton suet, when they spoke of "the fat of the land." ' Pursuing the topic, we quoted Isaiah 25:6: "And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things . . . of fat things full of marrow." And, not disagreeing with the scholars that usually such biblical quotations have in mind the fat meats and suets of mutton, we went on to show that beef fat was also held in high esteem. For, in the New Testament, when a father welcomed home his prodigal son, he did not butcher an ordinary calf; he slew "a fatted calf." In view of developments retailed hereafter, we have since gone a bit further into biblical matters. We were able to do it more easily because fortunately a colleague here at Dartmouth College has assumed the task of writing articles on food for The Interpreter's Bible, dealing with foods both in their everyday and in their ritual aspects. The first problem on which we consulted Dr. James F. Ross was interpreting the currently much cited Leviticus yrjs-sj: "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying: 'Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Ye shall eat no manner of fat, of ox, or of sheep, or of goat.' '* We questioned: Is the Bible here saying for all men and for all circumstances that no one should ever eat these fats? Or is it the meaning to prohibit these fats to certain people under certain circumstances? Dr. Ross said that he would like to study the case afresh, in view both of our interest and of his new work as a kind of food editor of a religious work for scholarly reference. But his preliminary view, based on the usual approach of Bible scholars to such problems, was: It is here being directed that when these fats have once been offered in sacrifice, or when it is intended that they be so offered, then those concerned in the offering should not themselves partake. So we asked whether Leviticus 7:23 was then saying, in effect: "Don't be an Indian giver. When you have offered up in sacrifice delicious things like the fats of the ox, sheep and goat, don't try any such double-crossing trick as eating them yourself." Yes, said Dr. Ross, that was approximately his offhand opinion, pending further study of the special case. Some weeks later we had a second talk with Dr. Ross. Though other matters had preoccupied him, he had a suggestion: to look in the Interpreter's Bible and take its verdict as his own, pending his further study. And these are among the things we found, written by Nathaniel Micklem (the context shows that Micklem is speaking of sacrificial meats): "The fat is that which maintains life, and since life is God's gift and prerogative, man has no right over it" This commentary on Leviticus says also that the fat that was interlarded with the lean might be eaten (even of a sacrificial meat?). The commentator's emphasis is here on the much higher sacrificial rating of the clear suet, as distinguished from the fats that are streaked with the lean. This would be the importance of the words we now italicize from the fourth chapter of the first book of Moses: "Abel . . . brought the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof," meaning that he brought not only fat meat but also separate fat, or suet. Our chapter about living on the fat of the land makes a good deal out of the contradiction between the fashion of 1946 to warn against high-fat diets, as overheating in hot weather, and the uniformly opposed nature of anthropological and historical evidence. For the hottest countries are, in their lore and literature, the greatest praisers of fat. The Homeric poems are from relatively warm lands of long summers, and resemble our Scripture in having not a kind word for lean meat; but Homer, like the Bible, is larded with praise of fat meats. An example is the Iliad's description of a repast spread for the demigod Achilles (Book IX): "Patroklos . . . cast down a great fleshing block in the firelight, and laid thereon a sheep's back, and a fat goat's, and a great hog's chine rich with fat." In contrast with Homer's account from Greece, and the Bible's from still hotter Palestine and Egypt, are the religious and profane classics of northern European peoples, preserved to us most extensively by the Scandinavian Eddas and sagas. Our reading of these from childhood in the original fails to supply us with quotations in praise of fat to match those we find so easily in the subtropical books. As to current relish of fat, the tastes of the colder and the wanner lands vary now about as they used to do. Within the relatively small geographic compass of the United States, it is apparent when New Englanders visit the Deep South and complain that the food there is greasy; we notice it still more when North Americans visit Latin America, for the complaints are louder. When the fat-meats chapter appeared in 1946 we received mail from the tropics plaintively asking why northerners fail to grasp the principle that for the hottest weather the fattest foods are best. So, except perhaps in the Deep -South, our newspaper readers and radio listeners were no doubt generally bewildered in the summer of 1955 by the news that a professor in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had recommended high-fat diets for hot weather. This was Dr. Robert S. Harris, Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry, Department of Food Technology. In a letter to us he disclaims credit by saying he merely stated in his lecture "a fact, now well established, that fats in foods lower the 'specific dynamic action' during digestion and metabolism." Technical science may not owe Dr. Harris a great deal in this particular regard. But the public owes him much, and so do scientists of other disciplines. For today a specialist knows no jargon except his own, and in the gamut from astronomy to zoology there is many a professor vague on the meaning of "specific dynamic action" in relation to foods and hot weather; but everybody knows what you mean when you say, "In hot weather fat foods are good for you." According to Thorstein Veblen, a function of each special jargon among scientists is to keep other disciplines from butting into your field. If they don't quite get what it is you are writing and talking about to criticize you and compete with you effectively. Meanwhile, for a greater reason, the layman also remains in the dark. Now the public, at least, is heavily in debt to Professor Harris, and to newspapers and radio, for getting specific dynamic action translated into the vernacular. In disclaiming credit, Harris cited Henry Clapp Sherman's eighth edition of Chemistry of Food and Nutrition (Macmillan Company). Then he cites Holman-Lundberg-Malkin, Progress in the Chemistry of Fats and other Lipids (Academic Press, 1954, II, i i6ff.): "Less energy is wasted as the fat content of the diet is increased. It goes on and I quote: 'Forbes et al. . . . suggest that it is not necessary to diminish the protein contents of the diet during hot weather in order to insure a low heat increment; rather one need only substitute fat for some of the carbohydrate.'" That is the significance of the Arab practice when at 110° and hotter in the shade they eat fat mutton and use for a tidbit a hunk of the specially fat tails of their sheep. They are then taking advantage of the principle that fats in foods lower specific dynamic action. Precept of Arab and principle of chemist did not mean much to most of us until someone like Dr. Harris translates for us into everyday speech, and best of all into a slogan, to give us: "Fat Foods for Hot Weather." "Fat Foods for the Fat" should be another of the slogans, and is on the way toward becoming so through a series of tests in high-fat diets performed at the instance of two of our largest corporations, the Du Pont Company of Wilmington and the Lever Brothers Company of New York. Du Pont tried their tests on vice presidents and other costly executives, desiring to prolong their lives at a health level of increased efficiency, which sounds practical; Lever Brothers may have been still more practical when they managed to enlist 122 students of the Texas State College for Women—instead of using corporation dignitaries such as my classmate, and friend since the Gay Nineties, John M. Hancock, Chairman of their Board, who was a bit overweight the last time we saw him and who may have a number of still fleshier associates among his presidents, vice presidents, and managers. We consider first the less sensational but to date more famous Du Pont executives test. Our outline is drawn from three semi-accredited articles in Holiday magazine, for many think of this as the Holiday Diet. Called on the magazine's cover "The-Eat-AH-You-Want Reducing Diet," the presentation was by Elizabeth Woody, based on information from those at Du Pont who were both on and in charge of the routine. Beside the nearly all-meat diet, the regimen was essentially a brisk half-hour walk in the morning, then ordinary duties the rest of the day, and a normal evening such as presumably is usual with corporation executives. The calories were apparently derived something over 20 per cent from lean meat, something over 50 per cent from fat, and something less than 30 per cent from other things permitted, such as a small helping of baked potato, fresh fruit, or salad-type vegetables. According to Miss Woody, the reducing of the corpulent proved painless, even pleasant; some said they were going to stick to the diet permanently. One of the many things that seem beyond doubt is that this proved the most successful magazine article Holiday had published to that date. According to one story, they reprinted and sold, at ten cents a copy, more of Miss Woody's separates than there had been copies of the original June issue. After a year the magazine ran a history, that far, of "The Eat-All-You-Want Reducing Diet," by Miss Woody. The cover of the magazine read, "All About the Holiday Diet," and it was a tale of triumph. Perhaps because lean meat had at the time a better press than fat meat, this was played up as a highprotein diet; and indeed it appeared high protein, as we are aware from having spent a year, in 1928-1929, on its near equivalent, the Russell Sage diet, which served per day 28 to 30 ounces of lean, which, though they yielded only so per cent of our energy, still appeared to be a huge pile alongside the 8 or 9 ounces of the fat from the edges of our sirloins, which gave us 80 per cent of the calories. Actually, the main energy sources of the Du Pont-Holiday diet are similar to what ours were at Bellevue, between lean and fat, with the mentioned token Holiday servings of other things like salads, fruits, and baked potato. The greens and the fruits bulk even more than the lean, so that the fat meat in the Holiday diet would not strike the naked eye. And fond as you are sure to become of the fat edges of the sirloin of your Holiday diet, you eat them first, begin your meal with them, like a boy who begins by eating the butter off his bread, and scarce notice they are gone, unless you hanker for more. Historically speaking, the "lowdown" on the Holiday diet did not come until the magazine's issue for September 1951, in an article entitled "Footnotes on the Eat-All-You-Want Diet." Subtitled "More about the exciting 'Never feel hungry' way to reduce," the article was by Earl Parker Hanson, warmly introduced by Elizabeth Woody, "Holiday's Consulting Food Editor." From it appear the outlines of a story which we tell, with a few variations and additions from other sources. Analyzing the Hanson presentation, we find the sequence of names might have been, chronologically: the Eskimo Diet, the Friendly Arctic Diet, the Blake Donaldson Diet, the Alfred W. Pennington Diet, the Du Pont Diet, the Holiday Diet. Expanding a bit: While there were in pre-white times many Eskimos who used no vegetables, there were some, especially in Labrador and Alaska, who got as many calories from vegetables as the Holiday Diet does; so, even with a few things like lettuce and potato, we may well name this regimen for the Eskimos. The same diet is described in my 1921 book Friendly Arctic, as used and enjoyed by whites who, like the Eskimos, found it nonfattening, and thus a good reducing menu. Then Dr. Blake Donaldson, successful New York physician, read the book, and concluded that with a few things to make the regimen more "acceptable," such as salad, fruit, and token potato, it would be a good reducing diet, and so it proved. A young disciple of Donaldson's was Alfred Pennington, and by the time the need arose for reducing Du Font's corpulent executives painlessly he was already high in the corporation's medical setup and got a chance to try out what to him was the Blake Donaldson diet—as indeed it is, for the Du Pont and Holiday menus are substantially those developed in his obesity practice by Donaldson. All this is to us a friendly story. Blake Donaldson introduced himself, somewhere back in the early twenties, as we were going up in a New York skyscraper elevator, and credited us, as he always has done since, for giving his thinking a spur through the Friendly Arctic book and thus to an extent influencing his obesity tactics and strategy. Nor has Pennington been less generous—nor has anyone else been insufficiently generous, to our view. The Du Pont Company's triumph in health-preserving and painless weight-reducing of its executives with a high-fat diet, was reached through animal fats, chiefly with fat beef sirloins and roasts; the company is not in the business of selling food and had no commercial bias in the choice of fats. But Lever Brothers are merchants in vegetable oils, and naturally it was their (presumably vegetable-derived) margarine which supplied the high-fat element of the tests they organized. So far as we know, the chief of those tests was on co-eds and the aim was broader: Du Pont wanted improved health with slimmer figures and got both; Lever Brothers wanted improved health, slimmer figures, and better complexions, and they got all three. So theirs was a greater triumph than Du Font's; but it came later, to which extent only is the Lever firm behind. Physically, the success at Wilmington, Delaware, came in 1949-1950, and the large-scale publicity began with Holiday of June 1950; physically, the success at Denton, Texas, came in the period before December of 1955 and the sensational publicity was at its height in December of 1955 and January of 1956. The low-, medium-, and moderately high-fat nutrition tests of the Texas State College for Women were conducted by Dr. Pauline Beery Mack, who, before she became Dean at Denton, won her nutritionist spurs in the East, notably at Pennsylvania State University. Instead of writing a whole chapter, as we should like to do, we oversimplify in stating the Texas case: The girls in the Texas State College for Women, at Demon, mostly teen-agers, were given the chance to volunteer to live for an extended period on one of three varieties of what is essentially the Basic Seven diet, the variation, as near as could be managed, being only in the percentage of calories derived from fat. Because many of the girl candidates thought the high-fat diet would be fattening, those inclined to stoutness tried to get into the low-fat group; a number were troubled with acne or other complexion difficulties, and many of these had been told to avoid fat. Still, it appears, there were obesityprone and complexion-troubled volunteers for all groups. So far as we know, the Denton test publicity has not been specialized in by any magazine, such as Holiday; their publicity seems to have been thus far chiefly straight news stories —on the radio and in the press, and on women's pages and in beauty and in food columns. Dean Mack summarized the results of the study for us in a letter of July 26, 1956: "In the tests made at the Texas State College for Women, three controlled diets, involving one of a moderately high-fat content, one of an intermediate content of fat, and one of a very low content of fat, showed that weight status was more easily retained, skin condition was superior, and fatigue resistance was better on the highest of the three fat levels—which involved between 30 and 35 per cent of the total intake as fat. When margarine was one of the components of the total fat in the controlled diet, hemoglobin concentration, dark adaptation and bone density—undoubtedly related to the Vitamin A content—were superior." Perhaps we should not write up the teen-ager triumph at Denton along the line we are using. Dean Mack sent us voluminous and strikingly scientific material. But nothing new was demonstrated in her tests, except the one thing that counts: Denton gained for moderately high-fat diets the publicity which the truth seems to require nowadays, perhaps more than in any previous age. Dean Mack got the attention of teen-age college girls who suffer acne; and the men's colleges are not going to be far behind, for boys have acne too. Boys don't worry so much over their figures in college, but they are going to when they get to be Lever or Du Pont executives, and they too will bless Drs. Pennington and Mack. While teen-agers were profiting by moderately high fat, the blessings of the same tactics were spreading farther south and to lower ages in the University of Texas, for instance to their Medical Branch at Galveston where Dr. Arild E. Hansen, Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics, was improving the standard "formulas" by increased fat content, getting thereby less crying, sounder sleep, better results generally, as he wrote to us on May so and June z, 1956. And, lest we forget, Texas was not the only progressive state in moderately high-fat diets. True, their releases were, to our knowledge, the first to point up the high fat in their successful diets; the Delaware announcements hid their fat under the name of meat, which to the general public means lean; only when you scrutinize the Holiday regimen, indeed, only when you get your information from Pennington direct or from his technical publications, do you see the importance of fat in the Du Pont regimen, where its quiet role has like significance to its publicized one in the Lever diet. As for the difference that the Levers use vegetable fat and the Du Fonts animal, no one as yet has an experimental determination of what, if anything, that difference means to the health of the diners—whether those are better off who specialize in fat on their sirloins or those who spread margarine thick on their bread or use it as shortening. True, it is claimed that margarine is cheaper. Not in our town. In Hanover, New Hampshire, we pay for our margarine; but we get our suet without charge, as a kind of premium if we buy a trimmed steak. It seemed, then, a path of garlands for the high-fat regimens. My own skies were particularly rosy, for letters were coming in from the tropics and the Deep South where they liked my books for saying fats are good in warm climates; particularly I was set up when reports told that my works, issued as "popular," were breaking into the technical circles and were being mentioned, seldom with a sneer now, at medical conventions. Particularly I was gratified that the Bellevue Hospital test of 1928 (where Andersen and I lived a year deriving four out of every five energy units from animal fat, mostly of beef and mutton) was being spoken of after three decades as a scientific milestone. High fat was riding high; and so was I with it, proudly. But pride goes before a fall; and what a fall was there, my countrymen! The first cloud in the sky was no bigger than a man's hand, in fact no larger than a brief and friendly personal note from Dr. Ancel Keyes, head of the Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene of the University of Minnesota, in which note he said he was sending me a copy of his latest paper, on dietetic fats. This did not sound ominous, for I remembered vividly the support he had given me in the course of the "Second Pemmican War," which Chapter 13 of this book describes— a dispute with some Army physiologists who said the pemmican I favored as one sort of emergency ration had too much fat in it. Keyes had then written me that if pemmican contained no other ingredients than beef, fat and lean, he thought as high as 86 per cent of calories from fat would probably be all right. He and I seemed pulling together on animal fats then, about 1944. But when I read his paper in 1954, I did not feel so sure any more that in him we still had a potential booster for regimens like the Du Pont and Lever Brothers diets. Doubtless the storm had long been brewing; but I was preoccupied, and despite the Keyes paper I awoke to the changed situation only with the near tragedy of our President's illness in Denver and the Babel of discussion which followed, where now I heard from all sides that we were a nation in terrible straits, that a deadly sequence had been established. Heart disease is our chief cause of death, they said; the United States has more heart trouble than any other country; a high-fat diet is provocative of heart cases; and we are the heaviest fat eaters in the world. Luckily for my peace of mind, I was already past seventy-five, half of that span living on the fat of the land more literally than most, and still sound of heart, according to a recent physical. Except that presumably I should have been dead of heart failure long ago, I might have been frightened to death. Instead I felt rather annoyed, thinking the Russ Sage battle of 1928 might have to be fought over again, The attack on meat in the diet had been backed fifty years .ago, had even been launched, by men as prominent in their day as the viewers-with-alarm were today. In the 1920'$, and before, they had attacked meat because of the lean element it contained, animal protein; now they were attacking meat because of its fat element. Probably the great authorities of today are as wrong, I guessed, as the great were then— everybody now praises the animal protein which was so feared then; very likely within twenty years everyone will be dithyrambic once more about animal fats. That seemed to be a good bet. So, countersuggestible as I am, when the dirges began to penetrate I asked my wife if she thought it practical for me to abandon the Basic Seven diet on which, like nearly everyone, I had been living for years, and revert to the Russell Sage-Bellevue Hospital diet, of four energy units from beef or mutton fat for each unit from lean. She said this would simplify our housekeeping, and she thought save us money too; for the antifat campaign had been so pervasive in Hanover that considerate owners no longer fed scraps of fat to their dogs and cats. Instead they bought for them "rich lean meat," and the butchers are hard put to give away fat. All we'd have to do for a 5,ooo-calorie diet was to buy 1,000 calories of lean and they would joyfully present us with 4,000 in fat. From bewildered meatsellers, and in other ways, the news spread through Hanover that we were courting disaster at our house by gorging on fat meats. At least I was and, of course, my wife was increasingly tempted to follow me. I began to feel somewhat healthier than before, which doubtless would have gone unnoticed at first except for my remembering how well Karsten Andersen and I used to feel in the Bellevue Hospital days. And there were other blessings. The first notable one of these came with my morning newspaper in a dispatch from Boston which quoted Dr. Paul Dudley White, heart specialist to the President, as agreeing both with Ancel Keyes and the Bible on the dangers of high-fat diets, his scriptural agreement being with the Leviticus passage: it seemed as if the time might come when the medical men of our country would pass on to their fellow citizens the kind of message the Lord of hosts directed Moses to give the children of Israel: Ye shall not eat the fat of the ox or the sheep or the goat. The Associated Press story gave such an opening to be flippant that I could not resist writing to Dr. White, then known to me only as a distinguished Harvard medical professor and heart specialist. Because of the university association, I accredited myself to him as an alumnus of the Harvard Divinity School—to warn him and the rest of the medics that if they were to decide to endorse the Lord on this particular diet pronouncement they might find themselves in at least seeming disagreement with the Bible on one or more of its other diet passages, and that they might find a swarm of theologians buzzing around their medical heads. For the Bible often speaks well of fat meats. And then I went on to quote him some fat-appreciative passages, such as those of my "Living on the Fat of the Land" chapter of this book. There came by return mail a charming note implying, as Dr. White later made still clearer, that he was not endorsing the antifat people but merely confirming that for the time being they seemed to be having the best of the argument. He went on to say that we are only at the beginning of our knowledge of what causes various heart and circulatory troubles. Especially was he conscious of our need for more knowledge of dietetic matters. And then Dr. White laid himself open I He spoke of wanting to know more of my views and experiences, and said that he looked forward to one day reading books of mine. So of course I sent him one—this one. Perhaps two weeks passed, and I felt more strongly what I had realized the moment after I sent the book, that there should be limits to forwardness and jocularity, even among fellow alumni of the same university. But then came a fourpage, closely hand-written letter from a resort in New Hampshire. Dr. and Mrs. White were there for a rest and were reading my book to each other (perhaps reading themselves to sleep!). He was writing me on a few points which he had noted so far, and he wanted my comment. Then followed eighteen questions, a few of them with subheads A, B, and occasionally C. I spent two full days pounding out on my typewriter the best answers I could think of to his questions, six or seven pages single spaced. A third letter came: Evidently we had for discussion more points than a correspondence would handle, and we ought to get together. Would I let him know the next time I came to Boston? By return mail I said: that the hotel we usually stay at in Boston is on the same street with his office, that my wife and I were spending three days there soon because of a day's conference at the Harvard Divinity School on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and that perhaps he and I could get together either the day before the conference or the one after. He replied, asking if we would dine at his home the evening before the Scrolls lecture. His wife also was interested in the Scrolls, he said, and was indeed taking a Bible course at Radcliffe with Mary Ellen Chase and (by implication) we could talk before and after dinner of ancient scrolls and of fat meats. We did more than that, as to the fats. For among the cocktail foods were strips of rare bacon enveloping bits of pickled melon rind. And at dinner we had marrowbones 1 What with our Dead Sea Scrolls discussion, the evening reminded us of what the Bible promised unto the chosen: "A feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow," the wines in our feast being replaced by cocktails. These events, which led to an admiring friendship on my part for Dr. White, led also to his writing a comment for this second edition. It led further both to friendship and to what looks like the beginning of a collaboration with Dr. White's friend and collaborator Dr. Fredrick J. Stare, Chairman, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, who has written a more general and longer comment. July, 1956.
The Physiological Side BY EUGENE F. Du Bois, M.D. Medical Director Russell Sage Institute of Pathology, Professor of Physiology, Cornell University Medical College.
Here is a book that should be read by everyone who eats meat. It will relieve unnecessary apprehension regarding the food we most enjoy. Of course it should be read by, or read to, everyone who does not eat meat. The most intensive consideration should come from all those who are working in the fields of nutrition and its allied science, dietetics. Vilhjalmur Stefansson states clearly the fact that men can remain in good health on a diet of meat alone. The evidence is ample and incontrovertible. This message was brought to us by Stefansson a good many years ago but its implications have been neglected. The text books on nutrition are still narrow in their viewpoints. They do not seem to realize the great adaptability of the human organism and the wide extremes in diet that are compatible with health. The modern tendency is to encourage a wide selection of foods and this seems to be sensible and economical for the great bulk of our population. The propaganda is strong and on the whole excellent. Take for example the government pamphlet on the soolled "Basic Seven." FOR HEALTH Eat Some Food From Each Group Every Day Group 1: Green and yellow vegetables: some raw, some cooked, frozen or canned. Group 2: Oranges, tomatoes, grapefruit, or raw cabbage or salad greens. Group 3: Potatoes and other vegetables and fruits: Raw, dried, cooked, frozen or canned. Group 4: Milk and milk products fluid, evaporated, dried milk, or cheese. Group 5: Meat, poultry, fish or eggs or dried beans, peas, nuts, or peanut butter. Group 6: Bread, flour and cereals, natural or whole grain or enriched or restored. Group 7: Butter and fortified margarine (with added Vitamin A). IN ADDITION TO THE BASIC 7 . . . EAT ANY OTHER FOODS YOU WANT. (U. S. Government Chart) It is startling when we learn that large groups of active hunters in many parts of the world subsist on nothing but a small subdivision of Group 5. It is not quite as startling when we consider that the vegetarians live comfortably on all the groups except this very part of No. 5. The strictest vegetarians exclude also Group 4 and butter in Group 7. Physicians will note that those who live on meat alone metabolize a mixture of protein and fat that corresponds exactly to the materials that were metabolized by patients with "moderately severe" diabetes in the days before insulin was available. Evidently the danger lay not in the mixture ordinarily metabolized but in the exacerbations of the disease that changed the "moderately severe" to the "very severe" type. The normal hunters and explorers were entirely without this danger. The student of vitamin deficiencies will find in Not By Bread Alone much food for thought and very little that will conform to his previous ideas. Quite evidently we must revise some of our text book statements. According to the 'woks, Stefansson and his companions should have died of tcurvy. One can think of half a dozen different explanations or their striking lack of symptoms. Each one of the half iozen is merely a possibility, as yet entirely unproved. Some lay someone will find the right answer and it may very well be a combination or a balance of several factors. Those who are interested in the techniques of studies in nutrition will be interested in the combination of field and aboratory investigations. Stefansson's field study had been :ompleted and preliminary reports published several years jefore he requested supplementary work by the Russell Sage Institute of Pathology, a small research laboratory affiliated with Cornell University Medical College and Bellevue Hospital. In 1926 when this pan of the work was planned our country was passing through a phase in nutrition work when there was a concerted effort on the part of a small but very articulate group to prove that meat was harmful. It was supposed to cause high blood pressure, kidney disease, hardening of the arteries, arthritis and other similar ailments. The old bogey of ptomaine poisoning had faded but the newer work on allergy over-emphasized the rare sensitizations to specific meats. In addition there was, as always, the host of vague prejudices of religious, humanitarian or esthetic nature. In the background, subconscious but none the less potent, lurked the old Puritanical certainty that anything we enjoyed was bad for us either physically or morally. All these combined against meat and particularly against a liberal meat ration. It required a good deal of writing on the part of Stefansson and some of the nutritionists before the intelligent citizen was able to consume without fear as much lean and fat meat as he wanted. When Stefansson first came to us with his problems we were concerned regarding the attacks on meat and anxious to secure impartial, reliable information. We were asked to find out what happened if two men in New York lived on nothing but meat for a year. This was a good problem in itself and best of all there were two experimental subjects available. Those who work in the field of nutrition have plenty of problems, but great difficulty in securing good subjects for unusual diets over long periods. The results of the extensive work in the Sage metabolism ward of Bellevue Hospital, the calorimeter room and the chemical laboratories have been published in a dozen scientific articles which are well summarized in this book. The only dramatic part of the study was the surprisingly undramatic nature of the findings. This did not disappoint us. In a long study of orthodox and unorthodox diets in disease we had become accustomed to the undramatic. When observations were carefully planned and most exact technique employed the results on each individual were surprisingly uniform. A great many dire predictions and brilliant theories faded into nothingness. In spite of the fact that there were no striking departures from normal when Stefansson and his companion, Andersen, lived on meat, the scientific results were of considerable value. They furnished data in a long study which will be almost impossible to repeat and various parts of the work supplemented investigations in related fields. Even our errors of judgment in trying extreme diets on Stefansson in the first month were fortunate. They may have been tough on Stefansson and a source of anxiety to those responsible but they added materially to our practical and scientific knowledge of diets. At the time of the Bellevue episode there were not available the modern exact methods of vitamin assay in human subjects. It would be helpful if the experiment were repeated using these modern methods. Clinical observations cannot detect minor deficiencies in vitamins. The work must be done with great care and common sense or it will be misleading. Some of the early enthusiasts in vitamins published surveys implying that the great majority of healthy people in our country were far below the average in their vitamin consumption. Apparently the "average" was confused with a socialled optimal supply purposely made liberal to include a large factor of safety. The reader who is interested in the newer methods of vitamin assay and nutrition surveys will find them well described in the proceedings of a recent meeting of the American Institute of Nutrition.* The various papers at this symposium were prepared by authorities on vitamin research. In the light of this book of Stefansson's the one italicized remark of the Chairman, Dr. Charles Glenn King, is worth quoting: "Perhaps the most seriously needed type of related study in America is to find, through long periods of time, the degree of correlation that exists between the health records of individuals and their dietary habits." March 7, 1946.
The Anthropological Side BY EARNEST A. HOOTON, PH.D., Sc.D. Curator of Somatology of the Peabody Museum, Professor of Physical Anthropology in Harvard University.
About 1912, when I was studying anthropology at Oxford, my teacher, Dr. R. R. Marett, told me that Vilhjalmur Stefansson had written him inquiring for a young anthropologist to accompany him on an expedition to the Arctic. Marett asked me whether I would like to go, but I replied that I was having a hard enough time surviving the English winters. The next year I took a job at Harvard. Among the human skeletons housed in the Peabody Museum of Harvard University, I found a sizeable lot of remains dug up by Stefansson and Hastings in 1905 from certain mediaeval cemeteries in Iceland. I was immediately fascinated by these Icelandic skulls, because of the perfection of their teeth and because they showed certain other features —palatine and mandibular tori, thickened tympanic plates, gable-shaped vaults—that were strongly reminiscent of Eskimo crania. Were these "Eskimoid" features the effect of a meat diet, of the Icelandic environment in general, or of an adulteration of Icelandic blood with that of Eskimo through the colonization of Greenland? I wrote an article on that subject in 1918, but even now I do not know the answer. Soon after this Stefansson returned from his explorations and we began to correspond about the teeth of Eskimos, Icelanders, and Arctic diets. Before I met him, I was slightly wary of Stefansson, because he was the center of controversies that lit up the northern skies like the aurora boreal is, because he was alleged to have discovered "blond Eskimos," and because he said that nothing in the diet of the Eskimo required the development of massive jaws and enormous chewing muscles. Stefansson seemed to me to be an anthropological heretic who denied everything I had been taught about the Eskimo. However, as soon as I met him personally, I was immediately and permanently convinced of his sincerity, his honesty, and of the really tremendous scope of his knowledge of Arctic life and of the habits of the Eskimo. My experience with Stefansson was like his with a boiled fish diet—having at length brought himself to try it, he at once found it superior to all other preparations of fish. Thus began an intermittent professional association and an uninterrupted friendship. I have found Stefansson neither unsound in his ideas nor inaccurate in his statements. I have never met a man who, in both public and private utterance, displays less rancor against those who have attacked him, or who is more willing to give credit to his adversaries for scientific accomplishments and good intentions. He is a severe critic of his own theories— quite ready to change his mind when his views are conclusively refuted. I have gone to the mat with Stefansson about all of his facts and theories that seemed to me questionable. He has always come out on top. What he says in this book about the jaws and teeth of Icelanders and Eskimos, is, to my knowledge, correct. What he says about meat diet is convincing to me. I saw Stefansson at various times during his experiment of living for twelve months exclusively upon that diet and he seemed to me to be in good health (although not perceptibly better than usual). This book is a fair and honest presentation of a powerful case. Stefansson seems to me to have established most of his contentions. I doubt that my judgment is seriously biased because I like meat and have little faith in dietitians. February 14, 1946.
- 1 Preliminaries and Speculation
The saying that a man is what he eats derives an expanded significance from the theory that development from ape-hood to humanity was caused by a change in diet. The school of scientists which believes that food made men of apes pictures a remote age when the climate of the Old World was so rainy that forests were spread over most or all the tropic and sub-tropic lands of Europe, Asia and Africa. In this humid forest lived many anthropoids, among them the gorilla, orang, chimpanzee and that cousin of theirs from whom mankind is descended. They were all vegetarian, about to the extent that the apes are now, meaning that they lived principally on tubers, nuts, fruits, buds and tender shoots. Like the present apes, they would catch and eat a few small animals. Living among the branches, or at least able to climb a tree when in danger or in want of a food which grew aloft, these ancestors of man flourished—as long as the woodland remained damp, hot and substantially unbroken. But, according to the hypothesis, there came a change in Old World climate such that areas here and there became too dry to support a forest, and turned into prairie. This would not matter at first, while the glades were small; the forest population withdrew from or scampered across the patches of grassland. But if the change in climate was progressive and of continental scope it would come to pass that islands of forest were surrounded by wide stretches of meadow and treeless plain. As the drying cycle progressed, through centuries and millenniums, the anthropoid tree dwellers would become more and more crowded into their limited asylums. As the forest islands shrank the prairie grew and the living space of the grazing animals—horse and cow, antelope and sheep—which starve in woodlands but thrive on grasslands, expanded. The anthropoids as we see them today, and as we know them from remote ages through their teeth and other revealing bone formations, are vegetarians but not grazing animals; they cannot manage on timothy and bluegrass, but they can live on the flesh of the grass eaters.* The first men had to learn to hunt, if they wanted to live. Like the anthropoids of today, our remote ancestors doubtless combined rudimentary hunting with gathering—they searched habitually for nests, and ate the birdlings as well as the eggs, and the mother bird, too, if they could catch her. The anthropoid manner of search for rodents and grubs combines hunting and gathering methods. The theory pictures those of the anthropoids which found themselves on the grasslands as facing a new environment •with about the mental equipment of a chimpanzee, equal to that of a four-year-old child. In the service of a childlike brain they had the most marvelous tools that nature ever gave to an animal, a pair of hands. At first the prairie-stranded anthropoids were chiefly gatherers, finding dead fish along a stream as the partly vegetarian grizzly bears do in Alaska, finding a ground-squirrel in its burrow as the chiefly vegetarian grizzlies do in Arctic Canada, finding honey in a bees' nest as the black bears do •The animals that can live on flesh foods, or at least can exist on them for considerable periods, are more numerous than most of us realize. What we think of as strict carnivora, like the eagle, the wolf and the seal, are but a small segment of the actual and potential flesh-eaters. For animals which by choice eat grass will turn to meat when necessity arises. Of these the best known, perhaps, are the horses of Iceland which, in certain districts at certain times, Hve on fish. The lean meat of whales, dried and ground into a flour, is a standard cattle feed in parts of Europe. It is well known that rats and similar rodents can live on the bodies of other animals. Most species of fish live mainly or exclusively on other fish. The carnivorous habits of reptiles are notorious; little snakes swallow mice, a python will swallow a dog. in New England, finding grubs in decaying trees as the native Blackfellows do in Australia, gathering snails as the French do, digging clams as New Englanders do, bird-nesting like youngsters all over the world, sucking eggs like a Huck Finn or a modern chimp. Of these habits there would be gradual and natural expansion among those apes who found themselves unable to discover a forest in which to gather what had been their main food and was still the chief food of their ape cousins in regions of more rain. The prairie ape would have the ingenuity, as many other animals have, to lie motionless in the grass till some small grazing animal, perhaps a lamb or kid, came near enough to be seized. Troops of these pre-humans would work together as troops of baboons still do, for defense and offense. In short, as this theory holds, the apes found it necessary, in the grassland that swarmed with grazing animals, to become ingenious in order to live; while the ancestors of the chimpanzee and gorilla, at home in their accustomed tropical forest, required no more than apish industry and perseverance in the search for roots, shoots and fruits. What had been good enough for their fathers was good enough for them— served them well in a familiar environment and kept them what they were, anthropoids. On the grasslands there was now in play a rigorous process of natural selection. Those apes that kept searching for tubers and fruits, in a region that no longer contained many of them, had less and less chance for survival as the islands of tree growth along rivers or lakes became increasingly scarce with the progressive change from a heavy forest to a uniform prairie. As the grasses spread to replace the trees, there was more and more food to support more and more antelope, sheep, horses and buffalo, and thus more and more survival opportunity for those slowly evolving forebears of man whose brains guided their hands toward the use of clubs, the throw ing of stones and finally to the development of knife, spear and bow. In this transition period the death rate must have been heavy not only among those slower of brain and lacking ingenuity, but surely also throughout the prairie communities. There must have been serious trouble in adapting the old vegetarian digestive functions to the new food—just as it seems clear that the Iceland pony which lives on fish is not quite so well off as his hay-fed brother. There must have been new derangements, producing many an early death; and dietetic lacks, causing deficiency diseases. All these things, if they happened, must have taken place .millions of years, or at least a million years, before the present era. During the eons of time since then the forest-dwelling anthropoids have changed little, so far as can be judged from their preserved bones. In the same space the nearhumans changed to human so effectively that some anthropologists assert that Cro-Magnon man of 20,000 or 30,000 years ago in France was in his physique if anything more ideally human than the present day European, if humanness is measured in terms of difference from the anthropoid. This book, although written by a part-time anthropologist, is not a work of anthropology; although written by a parttime geographer, it is not a geographic treatise. So I do no more in this introductory chapter than touch upon the facts and theorizing that back up the view of man's origin upon which, as a peg, the twelve chapters that follow are hung. The anthropologists through their archaeology, and the geologists through their paleontology, find themselves in agreement that agriculture is a recent development in the evolution of man, for its existence is not provable in any part of the world more than 20,000 years back. Professor Ellsworth Huntington, distinguished authority on man's relation to land and climate, says in his Mainsprings of Civilization,