THE BEST FOOD
by: Dr. J. H. Kellogg

I am not sure that I know what the people want to hear about.

Voice: Talk about something good to eat.

That is the great cry, Give us something good to eat.  It is the great cry of the world, and it is right.  The Lord says, "Eat that which is good." Now I believe that the Lord has put everything that is good and wholesome, and every satisfying gustatory flavor, in the food that he gave man in the first place, - fruits, grains and nuts.

Now I called your attention the other day to the fact that there was in vegetables one principle, simply, living matter, or food.  We might say that there is living matter and food, but we can state it more simply, that there is living matter only, for the food is converted into living matter. We have in the animal two things, living matter and dead matter.  In the vegetable we have simply stored life, or stored energy.  We do not have stored life in water.  It would not do to say that water is life, although it is necessary to life.  And we can not say that there is life in air, or that air is life, although it is necessary to life. We have energy in water, but it is dead, so to speak. Take hydrogen and burn it, and it combines with oxygen, and there is an active living process, but when the hydrogen and the oxygen are combined, there is water, and if you have a fire which is an active living process, and you put water on it, it will extinguish the fire.  A live human body is like a burning fire, and in this case as well water will put the fire out if there is enough of it, as for instance, when a man falls into the water; but the water is at the same time a necessary means of keeping the fire burning, for it dissolves and carries out the ashes or dead matter of the body. I want to make this thing clear; how the body is like a furnace.  When you have a fire, you must have two things, air - oxygen and fuel, and you must have something else, you must have a means of getting rid of the dead matter. Now as the fire burns, there is a living process.  The material upon which the fire feeds, the food, in which there is energy, the fuel in which there is energy, is largely transformed into heat.  The energy becomes mobile, so to speak, is set in operation, or in motion so that it may be utilized. So eating, digestion, breathing are simply processes by which oxygen comes in contact with the food and burns it and sets the energy which it contains in motion, just as the warmth spreads out and radiates from the stove, and as the light shines out from the lamp. This is life in motion, in activity. It is the energy which has come from the sun in the sunshine, and is now resuscitated and shining out again. It has been in a stored up, or latent state, in the fuel.  This same thing is true of the food.

The chimney of the stove carries off the smoke, and how do we get rid of the ashes?  It is usually by means of a grate. But suppose you have no such means of getting rid of the ashes?  The stove will gradually fill up with ashes until finally the fire will be extinguished by the ashes.  Now in the body we use the water for the purpose of carrying off the ashes. It circulates the food-fuel through the body, and carries off the ashes; and just as long as the lungs carry off the smoke, and the kidneys, etc., carry off the ashes, the fires of life burn brightly.

We have in the vegetable one thing, living matter. We have no ashes in the vegetable, there is no ashes in the fuel, but when the oxygen combines with the fuel then there are ashes left. There are no ashes in the bread, there is no poison in bread, there is no uric acid in bread, there is no bile in bread, - but when that bread has come into the body and passed through the various vital processes, the oxygen comes in contact with it and it becomes uric acid, and bile, etc.  Every particle of food we eat becomes poison, so that we have in the animal just the same thing that we have in the stove. We have living matter, energy, stored in the food, and when this energy is exhausted we have dead matter, or death, as we might say, left behind from the fuel or food. Here again you have the same thing as in the ashes or smoke which is thrown off.  In the vegetable we have living matter, in the animal living and dead matter.  So if one animal feeds upon the body of another animal, he adds to the poison of his own body the poison of the other body, just the same as though you put one stove in another stove, adding the ashes of the one to the other, or instead of putting the whole stove in, you just put the fire in, emptying the whole thing in, you get the ashes along with the fire; or it is the same as if you were attempting to feed a fire on cinders, going to the ash-heap for your fuel, instead of to the coal bin.  If you used no other fuel than that, although there is some fuel in the cinders, you would soon get ashes enough to put out the fire.

Now the question whether the animal is a sick, diseased animal, is of minor importance.  A dead animal is a corpse, any way, and it doesn't matter whether it is a sick corpse or a healthy corpse, it is a dead corpse just the same.

I can not see why or how it is that human beings ever came to be willing under any circumstances to make a cemetery of their stomachs.

One of the greatest preachers in the country was visiting me some time ago in Battle Creek.  He was giving a lecture in the city, and after the lecture he came up to see me.  He said to me, "Doctor, I have been wanting to see you for some time.  You work hard, and I want to see what you eat.  I have been working very hard, and I find that my work tells on me, and I find that I have got to take care of my eating.  Three years ago I used to laugh at your ideas about eating, but recently I have begun to think that it might be well for me to think more about my eating.  What did you eat this morning?"

"Well," I said, "this isn't my day to eat" - I had been too busy to stop to eat.

"Well, what did you eat yesterday?"

"Well," I remarked, "yesterday was an `off' day also, and if I remember rightly I had four apples and half a dozen figs."

"But you don't mean to say that you live on that all the while, do you?  Do you not eat beefsteak?"

"I have not eaten beefsteak for thirty-five years."

"Is that possible! And yet you are working hard all the time?"

"Yes, I am working just as hard as I possibly can. I get out of myself every day every possible bit of energy, and I do not stop working until I fall asleep, and I take work to bed with me, for it wakes me up to go to bed, and when I fall asleep it is with work, proof sheets, etc., Bible and books scattered on the bed about me. I always take my Bible to bed with me."

"Well," he said, "I wish you would give me your objection to eating beefsteak."

"Well," I said, "I will tell you a story.  A lady wrote me the other day from Marietta, O., - it was just before Christmas - that her husband was driving into town and he passed a butcher shop, where there was hung out a lot of ripe rabbits, that were green and blue and yellow and all sorts of colors with putrefaction, and as he looked at them an old farmer came along and said, as he stopped his horse, `If I ever get low enough down to eat such stuff as that I will shave my head and paint it red like a turkey-buzzard.' And I have often wondered where people got such a turkey-buzzard appetite that they wanted to eat dead carcasses.  Why should a man want to make a Potter's field of his stomach anyway, to put into it the dead carcasses of beasts? Now if a lady should find a dead hen on her front porch, she would immediately call a scavenger to carry it away and bury it with the garbage.  But if the lady finds a dead hen on her back porch, she takes it, cooks it, and the family bury it in their stomachs."

I noticed his jaw began to drop, and his face got long; just then he sprang to his feet, clinched his fist and brought it down on the table, and said, "Doctor excuse me, but I am a darned fool."

That was a rather strong statement for a clergyman to make.  I do not approve of the use of such language; but I am repeating the conversation just as it was.  I am not sure whether I excused him or not; but I thought he was excusable for being disgusted with himself under the circumstances. He said:-

"I have been a fool all my life. I never thought of these things, and I have been burying dead things in myself all these years. I will never eat another bit of flesh as long as I live. And I am going to preach these things in my pulpit."

People are waking up all through the country to see that there is a difference between live food and dead food; that God never made these dead things to be eaten.  Now life must necessarily be shortened by the use of food that has death in it. God gave us food that had nothing but life in it.  That is what we have in fruits, grains, nuts.  They have the life that God sends to us in the sunbeam, stored up there in those beautiful little packets. Take an apple, and it has life in it, hermetically sealed up. That skin around that apple is absolutely impervious to germs. The apple contains bottled up sunshine, hermetically sealed.  See how the apple is made.  You know how it started in the blossom, a little cell inside that blossom, the very center of it, has been expanding, and God has been packing the life away inside, and spreading it out all the time.  It has never been opened to the air; it has always been growing from within; and the thing has been done so deftly and so beautifully that when it is all complete, there it is, with all that energy which God has stored there, and in perfect condition. Now when you open an apple and get to the inside of it, there are no germs there, not a particle of death in it; there is no instrument of death there, no infection and no disease.  And that is true of every fruit and grain, and of every nut, and of all the good things that God has given us to eat. Of course I am now speaking of wholesome fruit, the fruit that you would call perfect, - sound fruit.

On the other hand, here is an animal.  Now in every cell and fiber of the soundest animal you can find there is death, because the animal is a consuming fire. And there are cinders and ashes, and smoke, and poisons, and all sorts of most deadly poisons are in the animal's body. When the Indians of South America go out to fight how do they poison their arrows?  They dip the points of their arrows in putrefying human flesh.  That is the way the arrow is poisoned.  A putrefying animal body is just as poisonous as a putrefying human body.

Did you ever know of a butcher getting blood-poisoning?  [Yes.]  The butcher runs the risk of his life if, while he is cutting off some putrefying beef, ripe beef, he happens to cut his finger.  He is in danger of blood-poisoning, - septicemia, - just as a doctor is in danger of blood-poisoning when making a post mortem examination of a dead human body. The butcher gets blood-poisoning from the same cause. He is cutting up corpses, the very same thing that the doctor is doing.  A dead ox is just as much a corpse as a dead man; a dead sheep is just as much a cadaver as a dead boy.

The Lord told Noah he might eat flesh, and there is a very interesting circumstance in connection with that fact.  In Gen.9:5 we find something I would like to have you all think about, because some of you will be trying to justify yourselves in the use of flesh food, by the suggestion that since the Lord told Noah he might eat meat, you may do the same. Third verse: "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things."  The Lord it seems gave Noah permission to eat two things he had not given to eat before. One thing was to eat animal flesh, and the other green herbs. In Gen.1:29 we read: "And God said, behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat."  Now in the ninth chapter the Lord says, "Every living thing that moveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb," etc.

So you see the Lord extended man's bill of fare, and gave him vegetables.  If man is going to eat the ox, he might as well eat the ox in the first place, as second-hand.  In other words, the Lord at that time removed all restrictions, and said to man, through Noah, that he could eat everything he had a mind to eat; but he told him in the first place the things best for him to eat, and in this chapter he told Noah, Now you may eat anything you please, anything you want to.

One of the early Catholic fathers, more than fifteen hundred years ago, gave a good reason for this, the best reason I have ever heard. It was that all restrictions being removed, man might by his own volition choose the best, not because other things were forbidden; in order that he might develop a higher character, a better character, by choosing the best things, by choosing God's way, because God simply pointed it out as being his way, without any compulsion about it. God said, Here are these things, you may eat flesh meats and green herbs if you want to do so; but here is the original plan, the perfect way. God holds out before us the same opportunity for choice. There is no compulsion.

"Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you."  Fifth verse (new version): "Your blood of your lives will I require [seek], at the hand of every beast will I require [seek] it."  The word used for require in the original Hebrew is "seek"; that is the meaning which the lexicon gives. "Your blood will I seek: at the hand of every beast will I seek it."

Now God has said to man, You may kill and eat these animals if you want to; you may take their lives; but if you do, they will take your life; if you destroy them, they will destroy you.  Before that time all these beasts had been in dominion to man; so Adam could say to the lion, Go on this errand, and the lion would go and bring anything to him; or he could say to the bird, Go and do this, and the bird would fly away and do as he bid, and come back to him again.  This was a time when all these creatures sang for joy. Think of it, a time when everything could sing.  The carnivorous birds do not sing any more; they caw, and croak, and shriek. It is the birds that still live on heaven's diet that can sing. Florence Nightingale knew that.  Some of our greatest singers are vegetarians. Some of our greatest musicians are the strictest kind of vegetarians.  One of the greatest violinists in this country is a vegetarian, and he sticks to it because of the great benefit it is to him.

A great musician was once asked why he did not eat meat. He picked up his violin and played one of his greatest melodies.  After playing it through, he said, "That tells you why; if I ate meat I could not do that."  He recognized that he had not that quality of mind and nerve and of vitality when he ate meat that he had at other times.

This question is a practical question. It is a question that ought to come to every single one of us. What is the best food that will make us the best men and the best women, that will give us the greatest strength and vigor, the purest blood, the greatest clearness of mind, and the greatest activity of the nerves?

At the beginning, God gave to man food that had only life in it; but after the flood, he gave him food that had both life and death in it. Then when man began to take animal food, his life was very much shortened.  I want to call your attention to a table, that I have in a little book, here, entitled "Shall we Slay to Eat?"  It tells how rapidly the race ran down, and lost life, and vigor, and vitality. You will find it on page 114.  I will just read the figures to you.  For instance, Noah, 950 years; Shem, his son, 600 years; you see his life was shortened three hundred years.  Shem's great grandson, Salah, 455 years, and his great grandson, Rue, 239 years.  His great grandson, 114 years. At the time of David, the average length of life had been reduced to 70 years. The average length of a man's life to-day is only 42 years; that is, only one twentieth of the average length of life before the flood.

The best food will be that that has the most life in it, won't it? How can we find what food has the most life in it? We can easily find that out from the analysis of the food. The best food will be the food that has the highest total nutritive value, provided it is vegetable food.  For instance, wheat flour contains 85 per cent. of nutritive value; barley meal, 85 per cent.; oatmeal, 85 per cent.; rye meal, 85 per cent.; and Indian meal, rice, peas, beans, and lentils all have about 86 per cent. of nutritive value. So you see all the grains and all the legumes have 85 or 86 per cent. of nutritive value. They contain only about 15 per cent. of waste matter.  All the rest is living matter, capable of being converted into living water in our bodies, and being used in the human body.  The potato has only about 25 per cent. of nutritive matter. Which food is best worth eating, then, the potato, or such foods as Indian meal, rice, and cornmeal?  Which is the best eating? Why, the Indian meal, or rice, or oatmeal is better than potatoes.

Mushes are not good. I frequently talk to the patients at the sanitarium about the miseries of mush.  I believe they are more responsible for indigestion than anything else.  It is a great deal better to live on an ordinary diet, as far as digestion is concerned, than to live on mush and milk and sugar. That is one of the worst combinations you can make.

Voice: How about soups made from peas, beans, and the like?

Dr. J. H. Kellogg: I don't approve of them very much, because you swallow the starch without mastication. To-morrow we will have some experiments here to illustrate the question of starch digestion, and I want to show you something about starch.

Voice: Is milk a good food?

Dr. J. H. Kellogg: I suppose you mean cow's milk, and not vegetable milks of any kind. Cow's milk is good, excellent, - for calves. (Laughter) That is right. I can not recommend cow's milk for anything but calves. God made cow's milk for calves.  One day I had a whole lot of children around me, at our house. I wanted to make some impression upon them, so that when they went out they would go out different from what they were when they came in. I think it is our duty to try to change everybody that comes in contact with us so that they go away a little different, better than they were before. We must be sure, however, to change them on the right side.

We were talking about diet, and I said we are like what we eat, and if we want to be beautiful, we must eat beautiful things. There are the apples, pears, peaches, plums and cherries.  Are not they beautiful? How many of you would like to be beautiful?  We are made of what we eat, you know. The Germans say, "As a man eateth, so is he."  That is a fact. We are made of what we eat.  So if we want to be beautiful, we must eat beautiful things, mustn't we? There are the plums, cherries, apples, apricots, and the other beautiful things.  Then there are the grains, - how beautiful they are.  When we come to flesh foods, it is another thing.

The better the animal, the better he is to eat, of course. If you are going to eat anything, you want the best diet that you can get.  That is the idea of the cannibal. The cannibal eats his enemy. Why? Not because he has a hankering for the taste of human flesh. That is not the reason.  But he eats his enemy because he is strong, and he thinks that when he eats him, he becomes possessed of his strength, and of his courage.  The eating of human flesh by cannibals is with that idea, that by the consuming of his enemy, or eating his enemy, swallowing him, he swallows his qualities, mental and physical, - and not only that, but his property, too.  The cannibal believes that the kingdom is within him. He eats the man, and he eats his whole kingdom.  Not very many years ago, in the Sandwich Islands, in the courts, one of the natives brought in as a proof that he owned a certain piece of property, the fact that he ate the former owner of that property, and the proof was accepted as conclusive.

Men have a sort of cannibalistic idea in eating the ox.  A man says, "I eat beef to be strong," as though we are going to be strong if we eat a strong animal.  Now a certain clergyman came up to me one time, and wanted to know what made me so strong.  He did not ask me whether I ate strong men, or not, to be strong; but he wanted to find out what he should eat in order that he might be strong. He did not want to eat me because he thought I was pretty strong, - he didn't have any idea of eating me; but he wanted to find out what I ate.  If you want to be strong like a strong animal, you must not eat the animal, but you must eat the same things that the strong animal eats.  If the animal is strong because he eats the proper natural diet, let us eat the proper diet also, - the diet God gave us.

A Talk by Dr. J. H. Kellogg - March 2, 1899

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