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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 2, No. 9. June 7, 1939

Food Facts

Food Facts

The Problem Stated

Mankind's fundamental functions, as Professor Murphy has no doubt often advised you, are to feed and breed.

Mankind does both very badly. It resents any suggestion that it shall breed scientifically or control its breeding. It cannot feed itself adequately, and invariably feeds itself badly.

The reason is obvious, and very easy to state. If a great number of the people in a given community depend for their livelihood upon buying food cheap and selling it dear. It is only natural that certain things will happen:
(a)The price of foodstuffs will be as high as possible, limited only by certain economic laws and not by planned control.
(b)Wages will be as low as POSSIBLE. Higher wages generally mean smaller profits.
(c)The price of certain valuable foods will thus be beyond the means of a great proportion of the people.
(d)"Labour insufficiently provided with food and clothing is below its maximum inefficiency point... This evil is cumulative, since under-nourishment, in itself frequently the result of inefficiency, leads to a low wage level, which perpetuates the under nourishment, which perpetuates the in- efficiency, and so round the vicious circle."—(Prof. B. E. Murphy: "Outlines of Economics.")
(e)Manufacturers are not likely to be swayed by ethical considerations. If by adulteration, or dishonest and "intense advertising, inferior products can be substituted for superior foods in the people's diets, the harm thus caused will not influence large companies or combines.
(f)Man's education being almost solely directed to fit hint "to breed money on money," It is inevitable that food values, like all other values, will be debased and distorted under the present system.

One could argue like this for hours. But the palpable effects of underfeeding and malnutrition may be seen on every side. Their course is usually disguised with great ingenuity by manufacturers of inferior foods; great advertising campaigns can inculcate upon the people utterly false ideas concerning food values. And these ideas are almost unshakable.

It's a Racket!

"Salient" endeavored some weeks ago to expose some of the harmful lies contained in advertisements for products used every day. Our printers, acting under legal advice, were unwilling print our article. Their refusal was dictated by sound judgment—the power of the great food companies is too great for their activities to be safely questioned by private persons. The offensive article, however, has now been distributed to University students in a cyclostyled form. In that article, and in this special issue of "Salient," you will discover countless examples of the effects described above.

The problem of nutrition has never been so popular ns it is today. There are more books on food and dietary sold now than at any, time during the past twenty years. But the fear of libel action and the lack of scientific and systematic study of food values makes the majority of these books useless. We are besieged by cranks who mix Christ and orange Juice for our consumption in unpalatable proportions.

There is little disagreement between those attacking the problem scientifically, as is ably shown in our leading article this week.

This special issue is an endeavor to state the problem, give examples, and provide a solution.