Another standard blunder at home is the idea that no fat should be eaten in the tropics. It is also falsely stated that tropical natives do not use fats to any great extent. Doctor Semeleder, of Cordoba, Vera Cruz, writes that under the effect of this false idea, foreign visitors to the tropics "are always shocked by the quantity of fats these people take." An army surgeon, who has seen much of the lower classes in Cuba, informs me that they have an intense desire for fats. In the Philippines fat pork is one of their necessities. In the Mediter anean all the nations fairly grovel in grease - all their foods swim in oil of which they consume large quantities. Maj. P. R. Egan, Surgeon, United States Army,* also calls attention to the great taste for fats shown by the native Porto Ricans, who consume large quantities whenever they can get it. He scouts at the idea that there is any distaste for fats in any quantity in the tropics. He also called attention to the blunder of reducing our ration to the standard of starved savages unable to get food. Dr. H. E. Banatvala, Major, Indian Medical Staff,* mentions the great necessity of fats in the tropics. He also talks of the necessity for a liberal ration in campaign, though less is needed in garrison in tropics. In the Philippines we tried reducing the bacon and the soldiers at once bought lard, and the commissary officers reported that there is a demand for more fat bacon than the allowance. It is a natural normal thirst, and all of us find ourselves eating fat things with relish, even more so than at home. Practical experience is unanimous that our idea of reducing fats in the tropics was another of those ignorant ideas coming from men who never lived south of Boston.
* "Ideal Ration for the Tropics," Journal Military Service Institution, 1900. * Boston, Medical and Surgical Journal, March 21, 1901.
Maj. Jas. N. Austin, Chief Commissary Department Northern Philippines reports July 1, 1902:
"Continual experiences confirm the conviction that the theory of a special ration for the tropics is untenable. The demand for fats and sweets among the troops doing duty in the Islands is quite equal to that found among those in Alaska. As shown by invoices, between 60,000 and 70,000 pounds of candy have been shipped since August 24, 1901, to different posts in the department. And in all the accumulation of components of the ration reported in excess of needs of stations following the departure of the volunteers last summer, and consequent heavy reduction of garrisons amounting to many thousands of pounds, not a pound of sugar was reported in excess of needs. And this in face of the fact that the authorized allowance of this component has been increased by one-third. It is only a few days since a letter was received from the commissary at a station nearer the equator by some degrees than this, asking if the seven-tenths allowance of fresh beef his men were receiving might not be reduced and the allowance of bacon correspondingly increased, there being a general appeal to that effect. While no fault was found with the beef which was uniformly excellent, the men wanted more bacon".
Sawyer, previously quoted, also says:
"Employers seem to forget that the ordinary food of a native, rice and fish, is not sufficiently nourishing to enable him to do hard and continuous work, such as is required in mining. A higher rate of pay than the current wages is essential to allow the miner to supply himself with an ample ration of beef or pork, coffee and sugar. The Roman Catholic Church has had the wisdom to recognize and make allowance for the liability of residents and natives of the Philippines to this serious disorder (neurasthenia), and has relaxed the usual rules of fasting, as being dangerous to health. In the tropics a good table is a necessity, for the appetite needs tempting. Such a diet as I have mentioned (plenty of meats and other nitrogenous foods), will keep you in health, especially if you are careful not to eat too much, but to eat of the best".
* New York Medical Journal, May 26, 1900.
The diet he recommends, eggs, chickens, plenty of ripe fruit, diversified with oysters, prawns, crabs, wild duck, snipe and quail, would be wholly impossible in a ration, for not a thousandth part of amounts needed could be obtained. The soldier must have easily supplied staple articles. In other words, residence in the tropics is impossible unless we import appropriate foods, and even if acclimatization were possible the "colonists" would be fed from home.