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When Professor Smillie of the Medical School gave the causes for the outbreak of gastric-intestinal ailments, he supplied an acceptable excuse for the universities and hotels, but provided a serious indictment of the regulation of food supplies by the federal and state governments. Admittedly, the blame does not lie with the producer, who finds he is able to save certain of his crops from insects and other pests by the use of poisonous and semi-poisonous chemicals, or with the universities and hotels who must buy such impure supplies; the blame lies with the governmental agencies, who, ignoring their duty to protect the public health, allow tainted food supplies to reach the ultimate consumer.
While it is true that a certain amount of natural decomposition is hard to prevent, it is a well-known fact that such poisonous chemicals as lead arsenate and sulphur dioxide are widely used to preserve fruits, the former to protect apples from the ravages of insects, and the latter in the drying of certain fruits such as apricots and plums. Meat is also treated chemically to preserve its red color. Many may applaud these modern methods of saving money employed by producers and middlemen, and may marvel at the wonders of modern science, but no one would think of deliberately and knowingly placing these preservative poisons into his digestive system. Nevertheless, this is what is done every day by persons who cat hamburgers, apples, dried fruits, and many other foods. Bichloride of mercury may be a fine antiseptic, but it is hardly a nourishing food.
Those, then, who blame the University for their stomach disorders, and criticize the quality of food served in the Union and in the Houses, would do well to divert their critical energies to the state and federal governments. Upon these, who are really the guilty parties in a never-ending crime, much spleen may well be vented, in the hope that eventually, the diet of Americans may not consist of a balanced intake of arsenic and other assorted poisons.
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