Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER II: PHYSIOLOGICAL DETERMINATION OF THE STANDARD RATION - The Comedy of Protection
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CHAPTER II: PHYSIOLOGICAL DETERMINATION OF THE STANDARD RATION - Yves Guyot, The Comedy of Protection 
The Comedy of Protection, trans. M.A. Hamilton (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1906).
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PHYSIOLOGICAL DETERMINATION OF THE STANDARD RATION
I. Physiology of nourishment; Atwater’s standard—II. French soldier’s diet falls below this. Assimilation of animal and vegetable food—III. Necessary standard for the French nation. Lagrange’s formula. Reduction of the population by one-fifth. Correctness of the formula. Reduction to a quarter. Thirty millions of daily rations in France.
Physiology of Nourishment.
Ten years ago the Office of Experiment Stations of the United States Department of Agriculture began, under the direction of Mr. A. E. True, a series of inquiries into the nutritive value of certain foods and their cost. These inquiries were superintended by Mr. W. O. Atwater, Professor of Chemistry at the Wesleyan University of Middletown, assisted by first-rate collaborators. His books on “The Principles of Nutrition and the Nutritive Value of Food” give the conditions of human nourishment which I briefly summarise.
The human body is composed of fifteen to twenty elements, among which the most important are water and mineral elements, e.g., phosphates of lime, the bone-forming substance. Then in the proportion of 18 per cent. to the weight of the average man come proteids, in two groups: (1) albuminous, e.g., such substances as white of egg, lean meat, casein of milk, gluten in wheat; (2) gelatinous, such as form the connecting tissues, the tendons, the skin, the periosteum of the bones. These constitute the human body; they are also fuel, for they are burned to create energy and transformed again into fat. Sugar and starch can both be stored up as fat in the body; fat forms 15 per cent. of the weight of an average man. Carbohydrates comprise sugar, starch, and cellulose, and are found most in milk, cereals, and potatoes, but they only form 1 per cent. of the tissues of the human body. Sugar and starch form a chief constituent of energy; they are readily transformed into fat. There are certain waste products, bones, fish-bones, eggshells, and fruit skins, which are not eatable. Food should (1) form new tissue and repair waste; (2) maintain bodily heat and supply energy for action. Thanks to the calorimeter, it is possible to measure in calories the amount of energy a man gives out. A calorie is the quantity of heat needed to raise the temperature of 2·2 lbs. of water 2·04° F.; transformed into mechanical power it is equivalent to about 930 foot-pounds. An adult man gives out about 2,400 calories in twenty-four hours; that is, 100 per hour. Moreover, he loses in various ways more than 147 cubic inches of water; and he exhales a quantity of carbonic acid containing 61-69 per cent. of oxygen and 23-26 per cent. of carbon: in all he gives off some 3,450 grains of the latter. In urine and fæces he loses some 330 grains of mineral salt, more than half being sea-salt. His food must, then, furnish the equivalent of this loss and, moreover, energy.
The following is Atwater’s table:—
Dr. Dunlop, from experiments made in Scotland, on prisoners employed eight hours a day at stone-breaking, found 3,700 calories to be necessary for an adult in moderately active work, and thus Atwater’s figures, far from being exaggerated, are probably rather below the mark.
Ration of the French Soldier.
In time of peace the actual rations of the French soldier are 26 oz. of bread and 101/2 oz. of meat, without counting vegetables, sugar, and coffee; and over and above the ordinary bread ration pieces of 41/2 oz. are given out with the soup twice a day, thus increasing the ration to 35 ozs. There are certain substitutes, however, for the bread given out with soup. The meat ration of 101/2 oz. is uncooked and includes bones; from the weight one-fifth, or 20 per cent., must be deducted for bones. The account puts the meat, when cooked with the bones, at 46 per cent. The meat book of the Military Academy at Saint Cyr for February, 1905, runs: Paris meat of the best quality (i.e., the lower portions, neck, loin, ribs, and some portions of the cheek without bones, and flank portions), net weight 99 lbs., 75 per cent. being meat and 25 per cent. bones when uncooked. The cooked meat was 57 lb., bone 151/2 lb., 55 per cent. being the average for the high-class fare from which the above example is taken. Thus the average of cooked meat may be taken as 50 per cent.
On an average raw fresh meat contains 15 per cent. of proteids; multiplied by 101/2 oz. this gives us 11/2 oz. of proteids for the meat, and 2 lbs. of bread contain 31/3 oz. of proteids. This is a little above Atwater’s figure, but allowing one-fifth for bones, below it.
Even adding sugar and vegetables and allowing nothing for waste, the total can only be brought up to 3,400, i.e., the French soldier is on minimum ration. Vegetarians, of course, say that the place of meat can be taken by vegetable substitutes, but they forget the old dictum that nourishment does not depend upon what one eats, but on what one digests. Atwater’s final experiments give the coefficients of the different sorts of food as follows:—
These figures prove that vegetable foods consume without supplying fuel. They have the same defects as alcoholic foods.
Necessary Allowance for the French People.
Lagrange, in his “The Internal Needs of France—an Essay in Political Arithmetic,” reduced food to butcher’s meat including pork, and corn, under which he included wheat, rye, and barley. His basis was the military ration—28 oz. of bread and 1/2 lb. of meat. In estimating a family budget, Lagrange assumed that in a family consisting of a man, his wife, and three children under ten, the man would eat as much as the rest taken together. On the hypothesis that one-fifth of the population is under ten, he assumed that the consumption of this fifth, added to that of the women, is equivalent to that of the men; so that, while allowing for the lower consumption of the old, the consumption for the whole of France might be rated as four-fifths of that of a population of soldiers. Following his example in taking the peace ration of the soldier as the standard, I divide the population into general classes according to the Census returns of 1876-1896, so as to be able to work out the reduction involved in the lower consumption per head of children below fifteen, women from fifteen to fifty-nine inclusive, and old people above sixty; and I exaggerate the number in this class by estimating the number of children below one year of age at 20 per cent. instead of 16 per cent.
Physiologists estimate the food of a woman as three-fourths of that of a man, and equal to that of an old person; the food of a child as three-fourths of a woman’s. Leaving out the food of children below one year of age, the table of rations for 1,000 inhabitants is:—
The adults in the table are four-fifths of the population. Modern returns and investigations on the subject confirm Lagrange’s results exactly, and Atwater’s figures correspond very closely to them.
But I reduce to a fourth the proportion of the fifth, and if, to simplify the figures, I raise the population of France to 40 millions instead of 39, I have a total of 30 million rations.
By imposing a 2s. 10d. duty per cwt. on corn, and duties of 8s. per cwt. on live oxen, and 10s. per cwt. on live sheep, which raised the duty on the net weight of butcher’s meat to 14s., the capitalist landowners insured their monopoly of the French bread and meat supply. I now examine the extent to which they were capable of meeting demand.