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The Food Section of the National Conservation Congress met in the Palm Room of the Claypool Hotel on the afternoon of October 1st. Dr. II. W. Wiley, late Chief of the Bureau of Chemistry, as Chairman, discussed the cold storage industry and pointed out that cold storage is a great blessing to the country, in that goods are placed in cold storage that they may be more evenly distributed throughout the year. He showed that there is still room for the investigation of the principles of storage and improvement of the industry. The condition of food entering cold storage is most important. Frank A. Horne, Chairman of the Commission of Legislation of the American Association of Refrigeration, said there has been a remarkable reversal of public opinion in the last three or four years regarding the place cold storage and refrigerating has occupied with regard to the high cost of living. He declared the cold storage business has been unjustly assailed, and that a series of investigations and hearings had demonstrated beyond doubt that the popular notion and sensational newspaper attacks were entirely unfounded and erroneous. IIe said these investigations showed that the cold storage warehousemen performed a useful public function in conserving perishable foods, preventing deterioration and waste by means of a scientific method by which the great surplus production could be wholesomely preserved for later consumption. Before cold storage came into use a period of flush production meant a glut in the market, and large quanities of spoiled and utterly wasted foods. With cold storage at hand the contrary conditions prevail. At the general discussion on the subject afterward, Dr. Wiley said the attacks made on the cold storage business five years ago were justified by conditions. He said as a result of an investigation of the business, the cold storage men themselves have joined with the Government to improve conditions. Charles II. Utley, President of the Quincy Market, Cold Storage and Warehouse Company, Boston, said there would be no occasion for cold storage or the use of any other means for preserving food if human food was not to a greater or less extent perishable. If it were not perishable it would be the practice of every individual to conserve a sufficient amount of food as might be required. No better means of preventing waste of food is known at the present time than by the use of cold storage, and the use accomplishes most desirable results, advantageous to both consumer and producer, by the conservation of food, which is just as desirable as the conservation of our natural resources. Dr. William A. Evans of Chicago, discussed the capacity of milk for doing harm even when it looks, tastes and smells right. He said milk is a great carrier of disease germs, and that for this reason it should be
produced close to the point of distribution. The nearer the baby gets to the cow the more natural it is. Certified milk is all right when it is really certified by a noninterested person, but properly pasteurized milk is probably the safest for babies. Dr. H. E. Barnard, Food and Drug Commissioner of Indiana, referred to the fact that Indiana was the first State to pass a cold storage law. He introduced resolutions pertaining to the conservation of food, which were unanimously adopted. The resolution follows: Whereas, The Conservation of the food products of our country is of the greatest importance to our people, in order that they may have available the maximum supplies of wholesone food ; and Whereas, The subject is deserving of serious consideration, so that production may be encouraged and waste decreased ; and Whereas, The important function of the process of refrigeration is enlarging and diversifying the supply of perishable foodstuffs, as applied in the prepa ration, transportation and distribution of these goods, thereby giving con. sumers a larger and more wholesome supply, preventing deterioration and waste, is recognized as being desirable and necessary; therefore, be it Itesolved. That any legislation or administration restrictions or regulations that may be required to properly control the business and protect the public health should be uniform in the several states of the Nation, and be it further Resolved. That the Congress recommends that the succeeding food committee of the National Conservation Congress be specially charged with the duty of studying the questions involved in the production, collection, sanitary preparation, transportation, preservation and marketing of perishable foods, and to report its findings to the succeeding Congress to the end that such report may be made the basis of measures to better conserve the perishable foods of the people, to improve the quality of such foods, increase their production, and to promote such relations between the lyroducer, handler and consumer as will bring about a more nearly uniform price through each year.
The conservation of food may be considered from two points of view —first, the safeguarding and preservation of the food currently produced; second, the maintenance of those elements of fertility upon which continuous production depends, and the improvement of methods of production to the end that maximum yield may be realized from the labor and material expended. Both considerations are of the utmost importance in the present conditions of changing relation between the domestic supply of food and the needs of nonproducers. In both progress toward higher ideals is dependent upon an increase of knowledge, and worthy of such educational forces as can be brought to bear by a wise government. In both directions the United States Government, through the Department of Agriculture and otherwise, is endeavoring, by investigation, study and the dissemination of ascertained fact, to foster progress for the common good.
In the United States the development of food production to keep pace with the needs of a population increasing at a rate beyond all precedent, has been crude and wasteful. Beginning with virgin soils the stores of primitive fertility have been drawn upon with little regard for their steady depletion. Methods of careful and conservative agriculture that have been forced upon older communities have been largely ignored until comparatively recent years, when an appreciation of the near approach of the inevitable results of waste has turned forceful educational efforts toward a reformation—efforts which, however, have been handicapped by the necessity of overcoming the prejudice of ignorance and long established habit of carelessness. Considered broadly, the question of conservation of food is farreaching and extends to innumerable details. It is the purpose in this paper to discuss simply some of the general principles underlying the subject from the first mentioned viewpoint—the safeguarding and preservation of the food produced—particularly in respect to preservation by cold storage. It is hardly necessary to enlarge upon the general requirement of food preservation. In northern latitudes, where months of production are, in respect to a large part of the food supply, followed by months of nonproduction, this necessity is evident not only to maintain a satisfac. tory variety of food but to secure a sufficient quantity. In the United States differences of climatic conditions, although giving an almost continuous production of certain vegetable foods, do not serve to furnish an uninterrupted supply of fresh products of many staple kinds, nor are they sufficient to remove the necessity for utilizing the productive power of the colder regions far beyond the consumptive needs during the comparatively brief seasons of harvest. The practice of food storage from the season of natural production through the season of nonproduction is, of course, to some extent, as old as life itself; but the methods of preservation have shared in the improvements that have characterized a modern civilization. And the development of these advanced methods has brought into the question of food preservation new problems, some of which it is the purpose in this paper to discuss. Methods of food preservation may be broadly divided into two classes —first, those which accomplish their purpose by changing the physical condition of the food, as by drying, or cooking and hermetical sealing; and second, those which preserve the articles in such manner that, when used, they shall be practically in their original condition. The latter methods depend for their effectiveness upon the provision of such environment as will check or retard the forces of deterioration or decay, and it is in the ability to provide such conditions by an artificial control of temperature and humidity that the preservation of food in apparently unchanged physical condition has been greatly extended.
So long as food products were chiefly preserved from the seasons of production, or maximum production, to the season of nonproduction by the use of somewhat primitive means, and largely by producers themselves, or by methods familiar to the household, the food so held was accepted by the people as a matter of course and recognized necessity. Canned and dried foods were, and are, used with general satisfaction as such ; and such staple fruits and vegetables as could be carried in their original condition through the winter months were consumed with a general knowledge of their age, but with a full appreciation of the necessity for such holding and of the comparative excellence of the held goods. Butter and eggs also, when held by producers themselves, even by primitive and inefficient means, were accepted by consumers in seasons of natural scarcity with resignation as to their comparatively poor quality under a general knowledge that nothing better could be expected at prices within common reach. These conditions remain unchanged today in respect to those forms of preserved food whose character is evident either because of their change of form or because of a popular knowledge that the articles, though indistinguishable from fresh products, must have been held from a crop harvested long ago. But the development of preservation by effective artificial control of temperature has brought some new elements into the situation. Cold storage has enlarged the number of food products preservable in their original condition and created a new industry; it has largely removed the function of this class of food preservation from the scattered individual producers to large central establishments and thrown the business of accumulating and conserving surplus more fully into the hands of tradesmen. It has permitted the preservation of flesh foods in a raw state which were never before so preservable; and it has so improved the quality of stored products whose current production never ceases entirely that in many cases the held goods cannot be distinguished from the fresh production. These facts have led to a popular apprehension that cold storage, being utilized largely by nonproducers and necessarily upon a speculative basis, is made a tool for extortion or unjust profits; also that deception is practiced, in respect to foods whose production never ceases entirely, by the substitution of stored food for fresh; and exaggerated statements as to the length of time foods are held in storage have brought in question their wholesomeness and created a popular prejudice. It is important to know the facts in these particulars so that the true function of cold storage in the preservation of food may be understood. especially because legislative restriction of the industry has been effected in some States and is under consideration in others, as well as in the Federal Congress, in the enactment of which mistaken views have resulted and may further result in public injury.
COLD STORAGE ECONOMICS.
It is a self-evident proposition that, in respect to foods the production of which is seasonal, the ability to preserve a part of the yield to the period of nonproduction lessens waste and permits a material increase of production, thus increasing the available food supply. It is also evident that, supposing all the food produced to be marketed and consumed, an increase in the supply of food tends to a lowering of its average price. Apart from inevitable variations due to climatic conditions the production of particular foods increases or diminishes according to the relative profit realized from that production; and it is evident that a profit sufficient to induce production can be realized upon a much greater output if the period during which consumption is possible can be extended. A maximum production of any food can be realized only when the period of its availability for consumption is constant; and it follows that the maximum production of foods whose yield or greatest yield is seasonal, can be realized only by preservation of a part of the production for use during the season of natural dearth or deficiency which ends only with the beginning of the following period of maximum production.
Upon these simple truths rests the economic utility of cold storage preservation. Practically its benefits in the conservation of food, and in the encouragement of maximum production, are to be gained only through the opportunity for profit, and while the business of carrying foods from seasons of abundance to natural scarcity is open to all it is naturally conducted chiefly by the tradesmen who are permanently engaged in food distribution, and who are most familiar with trade conditions and the varying relations of supply and demand.
An important fact bearing upon the practical use of cold storage preservation as a feature of the distributing business is that no profit can be expected by holding products beyond the succeeding period of maximum production, when prices naturally fall to the lowest point. The variations in selling prices at that period are never sufficient to cover the cost of carriage of goods from a previous season and the lessened välue of long stored products in comparison with fresh. There are occasional market conditions which have induced the holding of perishable foods in cold storage beyond twelve months in the effort to lessen a loss, but they are rare and exceptional, so much so that a legal restriction of the period of permissible holding to twelve months would have very little effect upon the inducement to utilize cold storage from a commercial standpoint. But so far as the purely economic interests of consumers are concerned it would appear that no restriction of the period of per.