Cornhill Magazine,  3 (1861), 460–72.

Food—What it is

[James Hinton]




Darwinism, Human Species, Evolution, Organicism, Nutrition, Physiological Chemistry, Physiology, Force, Heat, Creation, Design, Chemistry, Narcotics

People mentioned:

Justus von Liebig , George Wilson , Henry Letheby , William B Carpenter

Publications cited:

Wilkinson 1851 , Carpenter 1855

    Begins by avowing that 'Whatever part Mr. Darwin's Struggle for Existence may have played in the development of the animal creation, it has certainly had no mean place in the development of man', whose 'energetic efforts' to 'advance from ignorance to knowledge' have been prompted by the 'unfailing stimulus which the stomach supplies'. By proffering various food stuffs, 'Nature lends us her forces to expend' and 'folds us in her arms'. (460) Our food, which is primarily made up of albuminous material, consists of two distinct but equally necessary elements, 'one designed to furnish the materials of the body, the other designed to furnish force' (462). In the compatibility of the chemical make up of most foods with the needs of the body, Hinton suggests, 'we have glimpses of a profound harmony and a far-reaching adaptation, the full recognition of which might raise to a worthier level our conception of creative wisdom' (463). In the processes of 'the casting forth of nitrogen, and uniting with oxygen [...] consists emphatically the animal life' (463), and plant life, which performs the exactly opposite operation, 'provides a store of force-containing materials for the animal's use' (464). It is by this 'appropriation' of the 'store of force' held in plants that 'the main current of our life flows on' (464–65). The article has been written, Hinton comments, in order to dispel the 'truly unscientific' notions concerning diet that are commonly held (470), and he suggests that the key to 'healthy nutrition' is through the judicious 'combination' of different sorts of food (472).


Hinton 1871

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