The Potato

Among the vegetables, the potato, in this country at least, is the most generally used. It has of late been decried as having no food value. This is far from true. It has, of course, a small amount of pro-teid, some of which is lost in the process of cooking. Its mineral salts are less in amount than in many vegetables, and are partially lost in the cooking. Its chief value as food lies in the starch it contains, and in the fact that its very absence of strong flavor makes it acceptable day after day.

Salts Of Vegetables

Vegetables should be in our diet not only for their food value but for their mineral salts as well. The bad effect of the failure to use a certain proportion of vegetables and fruits, has long been known. Scurvy has usually been attributed to this error in diet, while it is quite possible that some minor disorders of the digestion are attributable to the same cause. Cabbage, lettuce, celery, onion, spinach and the different leaves used as greens find their value almost wholly in the presence of mineral salts.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms have often been considered of great value, from the proteid they contain, but it seems certain now that this value has been much exaggerated, and that the reason for using them as articles of food lies in their pleasant flavor and the variety they give, rather than in the amount of nutriment they furnish the system.

SECTION OF A POTATO.

SECTION OF A POTATO.

a - Outer Skin, b - Inner Skin or Fibro-vascular Layer, c - Flesh. d - Inner Flesh.

Digestibility Of Vegetables

The digestibility of different vegetables must always be difficult to ascertain, so far as any one individual is concerned. Not only the presence of cellulose, but of acids, as in the tomato, of nitrogeneous substances, such as asparagin found in asparagus, and of volatile flavors, as in the onion, all affect this question. There has been within a few years a great gain in the abundance and variety of vegetables available. Formerly in winter choice was confined to cabbage, turnip, squash, onions and a few others. Now a visit to the market of a large city, even at the least promising time of year, shows an overwhelming variety of fresh vegetables. If we add to these the numerous canned vegetables of excellent quality available (and these are increasing in variety constantly) and the dried vegetables, like the peas, beans and mushrooms even, that are obtainable, we have no excuse for limiting our diet so far as vegetables are concerned.

COMPOSITION OF THE CUCUMBER.

COMPOSITION OF THE CUCUMBER.

True economy will consist not in cutting down the supply but in choosing fresh vegetables at the time when each is most abundant and therefore cheapest, and presumably at its best, and in supplementing these by the judicious use of the canned or dried product, not forgetting the ordinary winter vegetables.

Average Composition Of Vegetables

Name

Refuse

Water

Percentage Composition of Edible Portion

*Carbohydrates

Fiber

Nitrogenous

Fats

Ash

†Calories, per lb.

Beans dried...

...

12.6

55.2

4.4

22.5

1.8

3.5

1,605

Beans,string...

7.0

89.2

5.5

1.9

2.3

.3

.8

195

Peas,dried...

9.5

57.5

4.5

24.6

1.0

2.9

1,655

Peas,green...

45.0

74.6

15.2

1.7

7.0

.5

1.0

465

Potatoes...

20.0

78.3

18.0

.4

2.2

.1

1.0

385

Sweet Potatoes.........

20.0

69.0

26.1

1.3

1.8

.7

1.1

570

Sweet corn...

61.0

75.4

19.2

.5

3.1

1.1

.7

470

Parsnips...

20.0

83.0

11.0

2.5

1.6

.5

1.4

300

Carrots...

20.0

88.2

8.2

1.1

1.1

.4

1.0

210

Beets...

20.0

87.5

8.8

.9

1.6

.1

1.1

215

Turnips...

30.0

89.6

6.8

1.3

1.3

.2

.8

185

Onions...

10.0

87.6

9.1

.8

1.6

.3

.6

225

Cabbage...

15.0

91.5

4.5

1.1

1.6

.3

1.0

145

Spinach...

...

92.3

2.3

.9

2.1

.3

2.1

110

Squach...

50.0

88.3

8.2

.8

1.4

.5

.8

215

Tomatoes...

...

94.3

3.3

.8

.9

.4

.5

105

Lettuce...

15.0

94.7

2 2

.9

1.2

.3

.7

90

Celery...

20.0

94.5

2.3

1.0

1.1

.1

1.0

85

Cucumbers...

15.0

95.4

2.4

.5

.8

.2

.7

80

*Not including fiber.

†Including fiber and thus higher than fuel value available in the body.

The substances grouped under carbohydrates in the above table are chiefly starch, sugar and pectose bodies. Church states that turnips contain no starch or sugar, only pectose, but one of the analyses of the Department of Agriculture showed one sample to contain over 4% of sugar. The carrot contains sugar and pectose, but no starch; parsnips, sugar, starch and pectose. The nitrogenous matter is only in part proteid; in potatoes about 57%; in carrots, onions, cabbage, cucumbers, lettuce, about one-half.