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Learning from History

Published November 28th, 2019 in Eat for Health, Editorial, HN4U Blog, Traditional Cookery

by Tammera J. Karr, PhD  

This past month I have added two rare books from the late 1800s to my collection. One, of course, is a cookbook; the other is an original copy of Dr. John H. Kellogg’s “Plain Facts for Old and Young: Embracing the Natural History and Hygiene of Organic Life,” circ 1892. When we see a box of Kelloggs Cereal,  we don’t think about how it got started and what would become the historical background for some of today’s ultra-processed foods and diet movements.

As I carefully thumbed through Mrs. E. E. Kelloggs’ cookery book called “Science in the Kitchen” circ 1892, I was impressed with the content. The food was not what I had expected to find – it contains a wide variety of fresh and prepared foods, both animal and plant….but wait didn’t the Kelloggs’ believe meat was the root of ill health? Yes, over time, they did, and the writings of Dr. Kellogg are disturbing, just as reading a 1901 – NAZI Eugenics book is frightening. These books easily swayed the views of individuals in their day, just as modern “experts” can flood the shelves with books and diet food products or the internet with facebook posts or blogs today.

“No one thing over which we have control exerts so marked an influence upon our physical prosperity as the food we eat….”  “The brain and other organs of the body are affected by the quality of the blood which nourishes them, and since the blood is made of the food eaten, it follows that the use of poor food will result in poor blood, poor muscle, poor brains and poor bodies, incapable of first-class work in any capacity.”

Science in the Kitchen

Mrs. E.E. Kellogg, A.M

 page 21

Mrs. Kelloggs’ writing resonates with my beliefs about food; however, this is just the introduction, the beginning, and as history played out many influential “health experts” of the day introduced some dangerous, unhealthy practices and sold “snake oil” to gullible or unsuspecting customers. Just because someone has a white coat or stethoscope – does not mean they are an expert, knowledgeable, or trustworthy.  As with everything we should sift the chaff from the wheat, history provides us with valuable insight as long as we do not look at it through rose-colored glasses.  These works were written in a different time, ideas were not as scientific as the authors may have believed. Our modern formation of science was still in its fledgling days in 1892.

This was the height of the Victorian era, and there were a lot of odd ideas about health. While history has relegated Dr. John Kellogg’s medical status to that of “bowel-obsessed” quack, in his day, he was considered a very skilled surgeon and voice of authority on health.

We are at a crossroads in health. Today we have five generations of individuals taught the “Doctor Knows Best,” “Science is Good,” and “Better Living Through Chemistry.” Just as science was in its fledgling stage in 1892, our modern understanding of how foods affect DNA and disease occurrence is a babe in the crib. Our reliance on science to tell us what to eat can lead to disaster – mega-food corporations have billions to spend to convince you that Beef cattle are causing irreparable damage to our planet. These companies’ use of proven marketing and psychological campaigns sway politicians, healthcare providers, and the public to buy-off on unpublicized agendas driven by economics resulting in industrial-man-made food. Synthesized lab created-food doesn’t mean the end of global hunger. What it means is the stock shareholders get more money as this fake “beyond meat” products become patented. These lab-created foods are a pandora’s box, it takes four generations to damage our DNA – we are today seeing the unintended consequence of ultra-processed foods on global health. Do we have four more generations to play out the next great food experiment of lab-created meat? We have benefited from countless advances in medicine and science over the last fifty years, we have also paid the price for speed and convenience with our health.

There are currently famous doctors with huge facebook and publication followings saying beans and tomato seeds are dangerous sources of Lectins and cause inflammatory health issues. Guess what, no matter how many books Dr. G has sold to consumers, it doesn’t make it accurate. Yes, lectins can increase inflammation, so does sugar and canola oil, ultra-processed flour and fats.

So before you buy that book or program, or believe what you have been told – do your homework, check it out, and read reviews. Make today’s “modern” science and technology help you make grounded decisions about your food and health.

To Traditional Foods Prepared in Traditional Ways.


© 2019 Holistic Nutrition for the Whole you