Food Fear

Philadelphia Press

"There is a new disease," said a bright woman yesterday, as several of us sat over the teacups. "The scientific name of the malady is a big mouthful, of course. But in simple Anglo-Saxon it is just the 'fear of food' or 'food fear.' "

It sounds like a paragraph from one of Frank Stockton's delightful nonsense stories,—but it isn't. It is a sober, serious problem and doctors are diagnosing it as such. If you doubt the existence of this fear go into some high-grade grocer shop and ask to see the health foods. You will be astounded. The list of these would take up columns in a newspaper. New ones are coming to market every year. Healthy men and women are calling for "predigested nutrition" and "sanitary foods." Hundreds of otherwise reasoning and reasonable people sit down to a table in doubt and leave it in dread. Dyspeptic food faddists are responsible for the malady. Food fear is said to be a direct result of the mania for diet questions which has been raging over the country during the past few years.

The interest taken in food topics has been abnormal. Everywhere—city and country, land and sea, at home and abroad—diet has become the question. Housewives throw out at the doors the simple staple articles which their mothers cooked and devote themselves to strange gods in nutrition. Systems and symptoms are more engrossing as subjects than politics or art, books, operas, athletics. Studied with judgment and common sense the same questions would be profitable in the extreme. But they are not studied in a common-sense way two-thirds of the time. "Meat is poison. It is all diseased. It will fill you full of disease," A advises you. "Vegetables are all water. There is no nourishment in them," theorist B will tell you. C wonders at your temerity in eating a piece of winter fruit when there is so much appendicitis around.

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An Appreciative Letter
October 5, 1899

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