This section is from the "The Young Mother. Management of Children in Regard to Health" book, by William A. Alcott. Also available from Amazon: The Young Mother
I have reserved this section for remarks on certain articles used at our fashionable modern tables, of which I could not well find it convenient to speak elsewhere. And first, of SALADS, and HERBS used in cooking; such as asparagus, artichokes, spinage, plantain, cabbage, dock, lettuce, water-cresses, chives, &c.
Several of these substances are often eaten raw, in which state they are exceedingly indigestible, at the best; and they are rendered still more beyond the reach of the powers of the stomach, by the oil or vinegar which is added to them. Boiled, they are more tolerable; especially asparagus. In the midst, however, of such an abundance of excellent food as this country affords, it is most surprising that anybody should ever take it into their heads to eat such crude substances; and above all, that they should fill children's stomachs with them. What child, with an unperverted appetite, would not prefer a good ripe apple, or peach, or pear, to the most approved raw salads?—and a good baked one, to the best boiled asparagus?
NUTS, in general, are probably made for other animals rather than man; though of this we cannot in the present infancy of human knowledge be quite certain. But if any of them were intended, by the Creator, for man, it is the chesnut; and this should be boiled. Boiled chesnuts are used as food, in many parts of southern Europe; and to a very considerable extent.
SPICES, as they are sometimes called, such as nutmeg, mace, pepper, pimento; cubebs, cardamoms, juniper berries, ginger, calamus, cloves, cinnamon, caraway, coriander, fennel, parsley, dill, sage, marjoram, thyme, pennyroyal, lavender, hyssop, peppermint, &c., are unfit for the human stomach—above all in infancy—except as medicines.
There are several other vegetables equally objectionable with the last, though they cannot be classed under the same head. Such are mustard, horseradish, raw onions, garlic, cucumbers, and pickles. No appetite which has not been accustomed to these substances in early infancy, will ever require them. Not that they may not sometimes be useful in enabling the stomach—at every age—to get rid of certain substances with which it has been improperly or unreasonably loaded;—this is undoubtedly the fact; ardent spirits would do the same. And it is with a view to some such effect, generally, that medical writers have spoken in their favor. Some of them stimulate the stomach to get rid of a load of green fruit; others, of a load of fat or salt food; others, again, of too large a quantity of food which is naturally wholesome.
But in all these cases, they should be considered, not as food, but as medicine; and we ought to call them by their right name. And if we withhold the cause of the disease, there will be no need of the medicine.