" Bad Cookery diminishes happiness, and shortens life." - Wisdom of Ages.
In all probability there are but few who have ever had their attention called to certain figures duly set forth within the pages of that mine of information, namely, Mr. T. A. Coghlan's Wealth and Progress of New South Wales. Nevertheless, the facts associated with these statistics so directly concern our Australian daily life that they deserve to be widely known. That portion of the work in which our food supply is considered, therefore, is well worth referring to. It will be found that the consumption of butcher's meat by each inhabitant is greater than in any other country in the world. Thus the amount of meat required for each member of the community every year in New South Wales is 291 lbs.; in Victoria 275 lbs.; whilst in Queensland 370 lbs. are called for. On the other hand, in the United Kingdom only 109 lbs. are similarly needed; in the United States of America 150 lbs.; while the figures for the different European countries show an average of no more than 70 lbs.
Another article of commerce which is consumed to excess in all parts is tea. As I have previously stated, it is estimated by Coghlan that the four million people in Australasia use more of thi3 beverage than all the millions who inhabit continental Europe, that is, if Russia be excluded; but he further points out that in Australia itself the use of tea is universal. The tables show that for each inhabitant New South Wales requires annually 7.8 lbs.; Victoria, 7.7 lbs.; South Australia, 6.5 lbs.; and Queensland 8.4 lbs.; and moreover, that "West Australia attains a maximum with 10.6 lbs. Now, according to Mulhall, in his Dictionary of Statistics, the amount of tea consumed annually for each inhabitant in the United Kingdom is only 5 lbs.; and for the United States of America the proportion is but 1.5 lbs.
A survey of these figures consequently must compel us to admit that Australia is inhabited by a people largely carnivorous and addicted to tea. Surely not one person in a thousand would advocate such a diet under any circumstances. Is it not astonishing, therefore, that in-nutritious fare of this kind is still tolerated in Australia ? Facts such as these call for the most serious consideration, since they must irresistibly affect the national life; but though it may seem strange, these matters have never received the notice they stand in need of, if, indeed, they have ever received any notice at all.
There are worlds of interest, however, centred in the notable circumstance that Australia, a new and a semi-tropical country, is now being peopled by the descendants of those who belonged to an entirely different climate. At the present time the old racial instincts are actively powerful, and exert an influence diametrically opposed to climatic surroundings; and, as a matter of fact, we are witnessing a struggle between our Anglo-Saxon heredities and our Australian environment. But such a conflict against our destiny is one in which the odds are overwhelmingly on one side. For of all forces, that of climate is the most powerful. It is true that man is able almost to remove mountains, and that he can create rivers in an arid land : but to endeavour to resist the dominating influence of climate is to attempt the impossible.
Yet there is something more than all this which should induce us to follow the promptings of nature; this is the fact that Australia will only reach the zenith of her possibilities when her people conform to her climatic requirements. For what would the latter mean ? Market gardens innumerable, and a healthy and lucrative life for all concerned; the development of her deep-sea fisheries, and employment, direct as well as indirect, to thousands; the cultivation of the vine, with all the wealth pertaining to smiling vineyards; the growth of the olive and other fruits, and all the other industries which only await their creation; and instead of this, at present, all we possess is the knowledge that we are the greatest meat-eating and tea-drinking race on earth.