The current sciences of medicine and hygiene have made no progress toward answering the question, What shall I eat? The contests between the vegetarians and the meat eaters, the cooked food advocates, raw food advocates, and various other “schools” of theorists, seem to be interminable; and from the mountains of evidence and argument piled up for and against each special theory, it is plain that if we depend on these scientists we shall never know what is the natural food of man. Turning away from the whole controversy, then, we will ask the question of nature herself, and we shall find that she has not left us without an answer.
Most of the errors of dietary scientists grow out of a false premise as to the natural state of man. It is assumed that civilization and mental development are unnatural things; that the man who lives in a modern house, in city or country, and who works in modern trade or industry for his living is leading an unnatural life, and is in an unnatural environment; that the only “natural” man is a naked savage, and that the farther we get from the savage the farther we are from nature. This is wrong. The man who has all that art and science can give him is leading the most natural life, because he is living most completely in all his faculties. The dweller in a well-appointed city flat, with modern conveniences and good ventilation, is living a far more naturally human life than the Australian savage who lives in a hollow tree or a hole in the ground.
That Great Intelligence, which is in all and through all, has in reality practically settled the question as to what we shall eat. In ordering the affairs of nature, It has decided that man’s food shall be according to the zone in which he lives. In the frigid regions of the far North, fuel foods are required. The development of brain is not large, nor is the life severe in its labor-tax on muscle; and so the Esquimaux live largely on the blubber and fat of aquatic animals. No other diet is possible to them; they could not get fruits, nuts, or vegetables even if they were disposed to eat them; and they could not live on them in that climate if they could get them. So, notwithstanding the arguments of the vegetarians, the Esquimaux will continue to live on animal fats.
On the other hand, as we come toward the tropics, we find fuel foods less required; and we find the people naturally inclining toward a vegetarian diet. Millions live on rice and fruits; and the food regimen of an Esquimaux village, if followed upon the equator, would result in speedy death. A “natural” diet for the equatorial regions would be very far from being a natural diet near the North Pole; and the people of either zone, if not interfered with by medical or dietary “scientists,” will be guided by the All Intelligence, which seeks the fullest life in all, to feed themselves in the best way for the promotion of perfect health. In general, you can see that God, working in nature and in the evolution of human society and customs, has answered your question as to what you shall eat; and I advise you to take His answer in preference to that of any man.
In the temperate zone the largest demands are made on man in spirit, mind, and body; and here we find the greatest variety of foods provided by nature. And it is really quite useless and superfluous to theorize on the question what the masses shall eat, for they have no choice; they must eat the foods which are staple products of the zone in which they live. It is impossible to supply all the people with a nut-and-fruit or raw food diet;
and the fact that it is impossible is proof positive that these are not the foods intended by nature, for nature, being formed for the advancement of life, has not made the obtaining of the means of life an impossibility. So, I say, the question, What shall I eat? has been answered for you. Eat wheat, corn, rye, oats, barley, buckwheat; eat vegetables; eat meats, eat fruits, eat the things that are eaten by the masses of the people around the world, for in this matter the voice of the people is the voice of God. They have been led, generally, to the selection of certain foods; and they have been led, generally, to prepare these foods in generally similar ways; and you may depend upon it that in general they have the right foods and are preparing them in the right way. In these matters the race has been under the guidance of God. The list of foods in common use is a long one, and youmust select therefrom according to your individual taste; if you do, you will find that you have an infallible guide, as shown in the next two chapters.
If you do not eat until you have an EARNED hunger, you will not find your taste demanding unnatural or unhealthy foods. The woodchopper, who has swung his axe continuously from seven in the morning until noon does not come in clamoring for cream puffs and confectionery; he wants pork and beans, or beefsteak and potatoes, or corn bread and cabbage; he asks for the plain solids. Offer to crack him a few walnuts and give him a plate of lettuce, and you will be met with huge disdain; those things are not natural foods for a workingman. And if they are not natural foods for a workingman, they are not for any other man; for work hunger is the only real hunger, and requires the same materials to satisfy it, whether it be in woodchopper or banker, in man, woman or child.
It is a mistake to suppose that food must be selected with anxious care to fit the vocation of the person who eats. It is not true that the woodchopper requires “heavy” or “solid” foods and the bookkeeper “light” foods. If you are a bookkeeper, or other brain worker, and do not eat until you have an EARNED hunger, you will want exactly the same foods that the woodchopper wants. Your body is made of exactly the same elements as that of the woodchopper, and requires the same materials for cell-building; why, then, feed him on ham and eggs and corn bread and you on crackers and toast? True, most of his waste is of muscle, while most of yours is of brain and nerve tissue; but it is also true that the woodchopper’s diet contains all the requisites for brain and nerve building in far better proportions than they are found in most “light” foods. The world’s best brain work has been done on the fare of the working people. The world’s greatest thinkers have invariably lived on the plain solid foods common among the masses.
Let the bookkeeper wait until he has an earned hunger before he eats; and then, if he wants ham, eggs, and corn bread, by all means let him eat them; but let him remember that he does not need one-twentieth of the amount necessary for the woodchopper. It is not eating “hearty” foods which gives the brain worker indigestion; it is eating as much as would be needed by a muscle worker. Indigestion is never caused by eating to satisfy hunger; it is always caused by eating to gratify appetite. If you eat in the manner prescribed in the next chapter, your taste will soon become so natural that you will never WANT anything that you cannot eat with impunity; and you can drop the whole anxious question of what to eat from your mind forever, and simply eat what you want. Indeed, that is the only way to do if you are to think no thoughts but those of health; for you cannot think health so long as you are in continual doubt and uncertainty as to whether you are getting the right bills of fare.
“Take no thought what ye shall eat,” said Jesus, and he spoke wisely. The foods found on the table of any ordinary middle-class or working class family will nourish your body perfectly if you eat at the right times and in the right way. If you want meat, eat it; and if you do not want it, do not eat it, and do not suppose that you must find some special substitute for it. You can live perfectly well on what is left on any table after the meat has been removed.
It is not necessary to worry about a “varied” diet, so as to get in all the necessary elements. The Chinese and Hindus build very good bodies and excellent brains on a diet of few variations, rice making almost the whole of it. The Scotch are physically and mentally strong on oatmeal cakes; and the Irishman is husky of body and brilliant of mind on potatoes and pork. The wheat berry contains practically all that is necessary for the building of brain and body; and a man can live very well on a monodiet of navy beans.
Form a conception of perfect health for yourself, and do not hold any thought which is not a thought of health.
NEVER eat until you have an EARNED HUNGER. Remember that it will not hurt you in the least to go hungry for a short time; but it will surely hurt you to eat when you are not hungry.
Do not give the least thought to what you should or should not eat; simply eat what is set before you, selecting that which pleases your taste most. In other words, eat what you want. This you can do with perfect results if you eat in the right way; and how to do this will be explained in the next chapter.