More and more cooked food, canned or otherwise, is taking its place in the market. When canned goods were first manufactured on a large scale they comprised fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish, but we are now accustomed to a miscellaneous variety, including soups, baked beans, puddings, and pudding sauces, spaghetti, hashed meat, and shellfish. Bakery products have a larger sale than ever, and are found in small towns, and even in country districts carried there by bakers' wagons. In our large cities we find the "delicatessen shop ' very common, where small portions of cooked meats and fowl may be purchased after the custom of Europe, and these stores are open even on Sunday.
How shall we decide what is best for us in our buying? We must not condemn entirely the buying of cooked food without a careful study of the situation. The custom has grown with changes in our mode of living, especially in cities, where the small apartment is common, and where gas is the fuel. Under these conditions it is difficult to prepare foods that need long and slow cooking, and these processes are more expensive when gas is used. The long slow cooking of soup and beans, the even baking of bread, are difficult to accomplish. The odors from these processes fill the small apartment, and scent it for some time, and this is unpleasant at all seasons.
Take another example, the canning and preserving of fruits. The first cost of the fruit is usually high in the city, and this plus the sugar and the gas, and the labor and the lack of storage space make it seem impracticable in these conditions, and many people decide in favor of buying goods already canned. Such housekeeping is simplified by buying cooked products to some extent. The fireless cooker helps here, but not for all processes. Counting in fuel, the cost is not so much greater as we might suppose; and comfort and convenience are increased. Under other conditions, even in the city, a different conclusion is reached. If coal is the fuel, and a steady fire is kept, perhaps in winter for heating purposes, then it is economy to cook most food materials at home.
In the country and small village different conditions prevail. Here the abundance of certain fruits in season makes it economical to can and dry, even counting fuel and labor. In some sections many people can their own vegetables also. However, even in the country in the summer, it is a decided relief to the farmer's wife, probably short of "help," to win a little leisure by buying staple bakery products. Here if strict economy is not necessary, is it not better to save strength rather than money? Each housekeeper must work out these problems for herself.
1. What are the more permanent factors in the cost of food material ?
2. Why is vegetable food usually cheaper than animal food ?
3. Explain the effect of season upon the cost.
4. Why does transportation affect the cost of food ?
5. Why is clean milk more costly than unclean ?
6. How do business conditions affect the cost?
7. Why is wheat bread a truly cheap food?
8. How can we estimate the cost of the actual nutrients in food?
9. Describe the working of the pure food law.
10. Why are such laws necessary ?
11. How may we all aid in the passage and enforcement of pure food laws ?