Cooking utensils only made their appearance a few thousand years ago and for a long time only some foods were cooked. During the Dark Ages the Black Art of Cooking was "improved" and popularized and the custom of cooking spread to such an extent that those who ate uncooked foods came to be looked upon as savages, but little above cattle. Cooking became popular during the thousand year reign of anti-naturalism, which cost the human race so much and yielded so little, and was popularized by the anti-natural dogmas of that time. The germ theory gave an added reason for thoroughly cooking everything we eat, for it taught us to thus kill the "pathogenic microbes" in and on our foods.
Graham declares: "If man subsisted wholly on uncooked food, the undepraved integrity of his appetite, his thorough mastication and slow swallowing, and his simple meal, would greatly serve to prevent over-eating, and thus save him from the mischievous effects of one of the most destructive causes operating in civic life. * * * Whatever may be the kind of food on which man subsists when the artificial preparation is made as far as possible in accordance with the physiological laws of constitution and relation established in his nature, and is of simple character which leaves the proportions of nutritious and innutritious properties as nature combined them, or in the general average conforms in this respect to nature, and effects little change in the nutritious principles, and retains the natural requisition for the function of the teeth, and thus secures the proper chewing of the food, and the mixing of it with the solvent fluid of the mouth, and the swallowing of it slowly, the artificial process of preparation militates very little, if at all, against any of the physiological interests of the body. But if the preparation concentrates the nutriment properties, and destroys the true proportion between the bulk and nourishment, and effects improper changes and combinations in the nutriment elements, and does away with the necessity for mastication, and presents the food in too elevated temperature and enables us to swallow it too rapidly with little or no exercise of the teeth, and without properly mixing it with the saliva, the artificial process of cooking is decidedly and often exceedingly inimical, not only to the physiological interests of the alimentary organs, but the whole human system. And let it ever be remembered, that, as a general rule, the process of cooking, when regulated in the very best manner, cannot so perfectly adapt the substances which it is necessary to cook, to the physiological properties and powers of the human body, as to render them equally conducive to the highest and best conditions of man, with those substances which are naturally adapted to the alimentary wants. And, therefore, as already stated, all processes of cooking, or artificial preparation of food by fire--considered in reference to the very highest capabilities of human nature--must be regarded as in some measure an evil."
Inherent in Graham's views and principles, though in the very nature of things, this could not have been known at that time, was the saving of the minerals and vitamins of foods by eating them as nature produced them without, first, processing, refining and cooking them. No doubt it was this fact that led Prof. Stiles to declare, when the discovery of vitamins was first announced, that it was merely a re-statement of Graham's views.
We do well to remember that chemistry was a young science or hoped-to-be-a-science, and food chemistry was not yet born when Graham penned these lines. He covered all the ground in a general, and in some particulars, a vague way, which we of today, with greater knowledge, are permitted to cover more in detail. But it is a standing monument to the genius of the man that, with all our increased knowledge of foods and their relation to the body, we can only bow to him and say, "Yes, Mr. Graham, you are right." For Graham's book, now nearly a hundred years old, is up to date, and in some respects, he is ahead of us yet. If you want to know nature cure, read Graham. If you want to know natural hygiene, read Graham. If you want the newer knowledge of nutrition, read Graham. His was a master mind. He saw clearly then what the orthodox world is just beginning to see.
Graham said: "If man were to subsist wholly on alimentary substances in their natural state, or without any artificial preparation, by cooking, he would be obliged to use his teeth freely, and by so doing not only preserve his teeth from decay; but at the same time and by the same means, he would thoroughly mix his food with the solvent fluid of his mouth. * * * Again, if man were to subsist wholly on uncooked food, he would never suffer from the improper temperature of his aliment. * * * If man were to subsist entirely on food in a natural state, he would never suffer from concentrated aliment * * * If man subsisted wholly on uncooked food, he would not only be preserved from improper concentrations, but also from pernicious combinations of alimentary substances * * * it is incontrovertible that the alimentary organs of man and of all other animals can digest one kind of food at a time, better than a mixture of different kinds. * * *
If we cut this up we find that:
(1) Uncooked food, requiring more chewing, supply the teeth with much needed exercise.
(2) The necessary chewing insures proper insalivation.
(3) Uncooked food would preserve the teeth and stomach from the injury produced by hot foods.
(4) Uncooked foods would possess the proper proportion of "nutritious and innutritious (bulk) matter" to which "the anatomical construction and physiological powers of the alimentary organs of the human body are constitutionally adapted."
(5) Uncooked foods tend to prevent "pernicious combinations."
(6) Mono-trophic meals are the most easily digested. Today we may add the following other virtues of the uncooked diet:
(8) The necessity for chewing them insures tasting them to the fullest, and this assures proper adaptation of digestive juices to the character of the food.
(9) Chewing and tasting the food tends also to prevent over eating.
(10) Uncooked foods are not so easily adulterated as are the canned, pickled, embalmed foods so largely eaten today.
(11) Uncooked foods do not ferment so rapidly.
(12) Uncooked foods, if spoiled, cannot be "camouflaged" and passed off on us as good food, as cooked foods can be.
(13) The uncooked diet saves time, food and labor in preparation.
Graham and his co-workers had placed great emphasis upon the value of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in their natural, i.e., unprocessed and uncooked, state. The "raw food movement" may rightly be said to have been started by Graham. Though it never made great headway until after the discovery of the value of minerals in food and, later, the discovery of vitamins. There were three thousand "raw fooders" in Chicago alone in 1900.
Uncooked fruits, nuts, vegetables and whole grains were not merely "protective" foods to Graham, Trall, Allcott, Densmore, Page and others; they were nutritive; indeed they represented the best and highest form of nutritive material. Dr. Trall proclaimed (1860) all fruits and vegetables to be protective, by which he did not intend to detract from their nutritive qualities. The world has been a long time discovering what Graham knew--namely, that cooking impairs or destroys the protective and nutritive values of foods.
It is almost axiomatic that fruits, nuts and vegetables are the only foods that can be relished raw. Other foods hardly belong to man's natural diet. Buying fruits and vegetables to provide minerals and vitamins for yourself and your family and then destroying the vitamins and extracting the minerals and throwing these away in the process of preparing them fails of its purpose. Only when you eat your fruit uncooked and consume big salads of uncooked vegetables can you be sure of obtaining a sufficient supply of minerals and vitamins.
The "orthodox" medical world became so frightened over germs a few years after Graham's death that they insisted on thoroughly cooking everything, to destroy germs; while their preoccupation with the calorie value of foods caused them to deny that fruits and vegetables have any food value. No wonder Prof. Stiles saw in the vitamin announcement, a re-statement of Graham's principles.
The nearer their natural and unchanged state our foods are eaten the better for us. The natural "affinity" existing between the needs of our cells and the nutritional elements in natural foods supplies us with an infallible guarantee that we will get the needed salts, vitamins, and other food elements from natural foods. All true foods are more tasty "raw" than cooked. Cooked food, sans seasoning, are flat and insipid, as well as less nutritive.
Eugene Christian says: "We have in this country hundreds of articles of food which can be most advantageously used without cooking; yet the cook intrudes his art, bakes, boils, stews, broils, and heats these things, until their original elements are wholly changed, until many of them are rendered almost totally valueless.
"Thus robbed of their elementary and delicious flavors, the cook endeavors to make them appeal to the sense of taste by mixing, jumbling together, spicing, and using decoctions called extracts, the properties of which he knows absolutely nothing, until the original substance is so disguised that it cannot be recognized in taste, color and flavor."
In one of his splendid Health and Diet Bulletins, Ralph E. Sunderland says: "These are true foods because their original organic nature has not been changed, by oxidation, to inorganic status. Only organic substance is food. No inorganic substance is food because it is not assimilable in the body. This is a law. Every cooking process which involves exposure of the original organic food substance to the oxygen of the air fosters oxidation. This is true whether the cooking is done at home or in some factory. There must be life in food. Life in food is expressed only by its organic nature or condition. There is no life in oxidized (inorganic) substance. Upon this foundation all scientific diet teaching must rest."