Now, although I am strongly of opinion that a more widespread use of fish, vegetables, and salads in Australia would be attended by the happiest results (both by benefiting the national health and by developing Australia's food-industries), yet it must not be understood that I countenance vegetarianism. So far from being a vegetarian, I am one of those who firmly believe in the advantages derived from a mixed diet. But my assertion is that we in Australia habitually consume an injurious amount of meat to the exclusion of far more needed nourishment. The golden rule as far as the Australian dietary is concerned is a minimum of meat, and a relatively maximum amount of the other classes of food.
The influence which food exercises upon health is a matter of far-reaching importance, in that it affects the daily life of the whole population. Amongst others, the following medical writers - Sir James Risdon Bennett, Dr. J. Milner Fothergill, Dr. T. King Chambers, and Dr. J. H. Bennett - have in the past contributed much to this subject. In the present day, Sir Henry Thompson, Sir William Roberts, Dr. T. Lauder Brunton, Dr. F. W. Pavy, Dr. Burney Yeo, and many more have given their advocacy to the same purpose. It is urged by all these authorities that there is a needless consumption of animal food even in the old country, and they all agree that an exaggerated value is attached to butcher's meat on the part of the public. If representative medical opinion thus protests against the use of an unnecessary amount of animal diet in the climatic conditions obtaining in the United Kingdom, how much more would the misuse of the same food in a semi-tropical climate like Australia be disapproved of! Indeed, I am perfectly certain, that were those who have given attention to food and dietetics in possession of the facts, they would unhesitatingly condemn the grotesque inversion of food-habits at present in vogue throughout Australia.
There is one very important matter which unquestionably requires to have special attention drawn to it. I refer to the customary Australian mid-day meal Strange to say, all through the hot season, as well as the rest of the year, this consists in most cases of a heavy repast always comprising meat. Why, even in the cooler months, a ponderous meal of this kind is not required! My own views are that meat in the middle of the day is quite unnecessary, and, indeed, during the hot months actually prejudicial. Most people in Australia, after a fair trial, will find that a lunch of some warm soup, with a course perhaps of some fish, and vegetables, or salad, or whatever it may be to follow, will not only be ample, but will give them a sensation of buoyancy in the afternoon they never before experienced. Among the recipes will be found many which' may help to bring about a reform in this respect. The heavier meal should certainly be towards the evening after the sun-heat of the day is over, at which time it is more enjoyed and better digested.
Having thus far referred to our totally inadequate supply of fish food, of vegetables, and of salad plants and herbs, there is still the great Australian wine industry to consider. At present only in its swaddling clothes, it is destined before very long to enter upon its vigorous life. There was an eminent French naturalist, M. F. Peron, sent out to Australia by the Emperor Napoleon during the years 1801 to 1804 inclusive. A shrewd observer, he saw even at that early period of Australian history that there were unequalled possibilities for her wine. In the course of his interesting narrations he remarks: - " By one "of those chances which are inconceivable, Great "Britain is the only one of the great maritime powers "which does not cultivate the vine, either in its own "territories or its colonies; notwithstanding, the con-"sumption of wine on board its fleets and throughout "its vast regions is immense."
In the whole of Australia the annual production of wine is only a little over three million gallons; but in France, as well as in Italy, it is nearly 800 million gallons. These two countries together, therefore, every year produce about 1,596 million gallons more wine than Australia. These stupendous figures reveal very plainly what an enormous expansion awaits our wine industry.
The colossal growth of the wool trade is in striking contrast to the puny dimensions of the wine industry.
In 1805 the exportation of wool from Australia was "nil." In 1811 it reached to the modest amount of 167 lbs., while Spain exported 6,895,525 lbs. In 1861 the exportation of wool from Australia increased to 68,428,000 lbs., whilst from Spain it fell to 1,268,617 lbs. And lastly, in 1891 the amount of wool exported from Australia reached the majestic figures of 593,830,153 lbs., representing a value of £20,569,093. If New Zealand be included, the total export attains to 710,392,909 lbs., having a value of £24,698,779. It must be borne in mind that these figures represent only the wool actually exported, and do not include that kept back for Australian requirements. As I have pointed out in the beginning of the chapter on Australian wine, if the latter industry had increased in similar proportion, Australia's prosperity would be second to none in the world.
There are some other striking figures which are well worth referring to. The city of Paris alone requires nearly 300,000 gallons of wine daily. Now, the total yearly wine production of the whole of Australia is but a little over three million gallons. It will follow from the preceding, then, that the single city of Paris itself would consume in 12 days all the wine which the whole of Australia takes 12 months to make.
The future prosperity of Australia, at least to a very great extent, is wrapped up in her wine industry; for its development means much more than a large export trade to other countries. It means, in fact, the use of Australian wine as a national and every-day wholesome beverage; it means the covering of the land with smiling vineyards; it means employment and a healthy calling literally to thousands upon thousands; and, lastly, it means settlement upon the land, and a more diffused distribution of the population throughout Australia.