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6. When Fanaticism Reigns
Early one morning I happened to be leafing through some of the old Hygienic Reviews and ran across an article which I thought to be especially relevant today as it was when Dr. Shelton wrote it over 50 years ago. I thought it worthy of reprinting for those fortunate few who may run across our website. When this article was written there was a strong Hygienic movement with Chapters of The American Natural Hygiene Society scattered across the United States and into Canada, as well as similar organizations started as spin-offs in Europe. I hope our readers will enjoy this one written and published in the June 1953 issue of Dr. Shelton’s Hygienic Review. Enjoy!
Many vegetarians and raw fooders took up the cry for organic fertilization and against poison sprays. They shouted so long and so loud about the evils of commercial fertilizers and poison sprays that they frightened themselves and their fellow vegetarians and raw fooders. They have gotten themselves into such a state of fright that they are now abandoning their former tenants and turning to foods and imitation foods that they formerly condemned. They are now substituting pills and flesh foods for the vegetables and fruits they once held in such high esteem. They are scared to death of ordinary fruits and vegetables, a state they have gotten into with the able help of the exploiters of organically grown foods, who, unfortunately, cannot supply a small part of the demand they have created.
On March 31, of this year Jack Trop addressed a letter to Symon Gould in which he pointed out that the over-emphasis on organically grown foods which has been going on in the New York Natural Hygiene Society, has had some very bad results. Mr. Trop sent me a copy of the letter and attached a note suggesting that I “hit this overworked organic idea hard at the convention,” in May. I have hit the idea before and it has resulted in more howls than intelligent consideration. For forty years I have been watching the rising and falling of ideas and programs of this kind and I cannot name one of them that was not overworked and that did not lead great numbers of people into fanaticism.
In his letter Mr. Trop says: “Recently I have had occasion to observe at close range the dietary routines of some people who have gone overboard on organically grown foods. They really are whacky. Some of them have not tasted a green salad all winter. Others have as their basic food the Greenlife pills about which we had a discussion a meeting or so ago. Let me give you the daily diet of one of these people. No exaggeration. Breakfast: three quarts of distilled water, 6 Greenlife pills; lunch: 6 organic temple oranges, 6 Greenlife pills; dinner: sesame seed, coconut milk and bananas, mixed in the Waring blender. (Quick! Bring me the vomit pail.) Oh yes, 6 Greenlife pills to top it off.”
This kind of eating, if it can be called such, will quickly bring the whole Hygienic movement into disrepute. These people will tell others that they are eating Hygienically. No man or woman of sound mind will follow their example. But they will decide, and correctly, that such eaters are fanatics. Unfortunately they will not investigate Hygiene and learn to discriminate between true Hygienic eating and fanaticism of this character.
Take a look at that breakfast: three quarts of distilled water. Was Trop watching a human being or a desert camel taking on a water supply? Such drinking of water is certainly unhygienic. To add the pills is equal folly. Lunch: six oranges and six pills. Keep this up and too much acid will be introduced into the system. Dinner: Sesame seed (protein), bananas (carbohydrate), coconut milk (carbohydrate), mixed in a blender. If our people don’t throw ther infernal blenders away and learn to chew foods, they are going to come up sans their no longer useful teeth. To cut foods into small or fine particles in this fashion is to guarantee great loss of food value from oxidation. Then there is the mixing of these foods together in total disregard of sane rules of food combining.
Finally, there are the inevitable pills. Today, we are trying to live on pills and powders. We want to get our vitamins in pellet form our minerals in capsules and our chlorophyll, the importance of which is also being greatly overemphasized for commercial reasons, in pills, tooth paste and chewing gum. It never seems to enter the empty heads of the modern city dwellers that they can derive a superabundance of chlorophyll from green vegetables – spinach, celery, lettuce, kale, chard, green beans, okra, mustard greens, turnip greens, beet greens, and other green foods that we eat. The chlorophyll in these vegetables is not synthetic, does not contain non-usable iron and copper, is not productive of trouble and is ideally associated with other nutritive elements that must accompany the chlorophyll if it is to be utilized by the body.
Fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables are abundant in minerals and vitamins. So are nuts and whole grain cereals. The man or woman who eats a natural diet does not need to supplement his diet with powdered boner, green chewing gum that remains as green after it has been chewed an hour as when it was put into the mouth, green tooth paste that is spit out as soon as the teeth are scoured, capsules containing inorganic salts, and other substitutes for a normal diet.
What has happened to the people of New York (at least to those who are in the New York Natural Hygiene Society) that they (or many of them) have adopted this form of fanaticism? Two things have happened. First, they were cut off from the fountains of Hygienic knowledge when they were organized as a merely local group and were not formally and actually affiliated with the American Natural Hygiene Society. Second, they have been exploited by ever Tom, Dick and Harry who had a product to sell. But, most of all they have been talked into insensibility about organic fertilization and the evils of sprays. My repeated protests against this folly have gone unheeded. Trop, it seems, is the first to awaken from the fever dream.
Back in the years 1925-6-7-8, when I lived in and practiced in New York City, I was publicity director of the International Anti-Vaccination League. We held weekly meetings in the Pennsylvania Hotel at which meetings we discussed the evils of vaccines and serums and mapped our means of opposing compulsory vaccination and inoculation. One day I received a call to go out into Brooklyn and see a sick baby, the niece of a young woman who was a member of the Anti-Vaccination League. I arrived to find a dying baby. It lived but an hour after I saw it. The aunt asked me: “Why should the baby be sick? It has never been vaccinated and inoculated.” She had heard the evils of vaccines and serums stressed so much at the meetings that she had come to think that these are the only causes of disease.
The same day I received Jack Trop’s letter I received a letter from a woman asking me to run an article in my next issue, telling the people of the evils of aluminum cooking vessels. I know people who think that all of the ills of mankind come from cooking foods in aluminum. Years ago I used aluminum cooking vessels. Now I have stainless steel cooking vessels. If I were going to be hung tomorrow for my failure, I could not tell you tonight where and what is the difference between the nutritional results of feeding foods cooked in aluminum and foods cooked in stainless steel or some other form of cooking ware. I have never seen anyone poisoned from eating foods cooked in aluminum cooking vessels.
I will be told that aluminum is poisonous. Certainly it is. But so are iron, copper, glass, porcelain, granite, and other substances that are used in making cooking vessels. But, just as I have never seen anybody eat a copper kettle or an iron pot, so I have never seen anybody feast off an aluminum cooking vessel. I use stainless steel cooking vessels, which are not as satisfactory as waterless cookers as are the aluminum vessels, not because I am convinced that cooking foods in aluminum vessels constitutes a health hazard, but because so many people have become fanatical on the subject, from reading the gross exaggerations that are published in the anti-aluminum fight, that I am forced to use the steel for their peace of mind. Fanaticism is an evil wherever it is found.
Trop’s letter continues; “Others whom I have met have decided that they must eat meat because the vegetables are sprayed and they cannot get enough organic foods outside of the dead carcass field.” Thus, the exaggerations of the evils of homeopathic doses of sprays that people may sometimes get from eating sprayed fruits and vegetables, have driven the people away from fruits and vegetables. I do not think that the meat industry has been behind this plan to drive people away from fruits and vegetables by this means. But I know certain vegetarians who are as ‘guilty as hell’ of unduly frightening their vegetarian friends by their ghost stories about sprays. They have done this because they are exploiting organically grown fruits and vegetables. At this writing there are not sufficient organically grown fruits and vegetables produced in America to supply the food needs of one small town. So our scared vegetarian friends are turning to flesh – flesh that has been fed on denatured foods, fed on sprayed plants, fattened on brewery slops, given penicillin to accelerate growth, and that are all sick before they are killed. What a muddle fanaticism and commercialism can get people into! I know people who drink beer because the city water is chlorinated. I once knew a world champion athlete who refused to drink water because it made him heavy. He drank Coca-Cola instead. Coca-Cola is largely water.
I have a letter from Mr. J.I.Rodale, editor and publisher of Organic Gardening, dated Jan. 17, 1953 in which he states that he thinks that finally, when all of the controversy is over, the most important part of the Organic Method will be the use of rock powder minerals, which I have stressed for so long. I have stressed these for over thirty years. Today (April 4, 1953) an organic gardener came in to see me for a consultation. During the course of our conversation, he said that if he had eleven acres of land on which to grow his organic materials to use in fertilization, he could keep one acre in production (that is he would grow organic fertilizer on ten acres and food stuffs on one acre) until he had exhausted the soil on the ten acres which he would rob each year to fertilize the acre which he would rob to feed himself. This is a very graphic way of saying, as I have so often said, that there just is not enough fertilizer to go around, if we undertake to fertilize all of our farm land in this way. We must also use mineral fertilizer.
Hensel of Germany, Samson Morgan of Britain, Lindlahr and Arthus Carter Savage of this country have show the superiority of mineral fertilizer. This work is no longer in the “experimental stage.” Neither of these men dispensed with organic fertilizer indeed, they emphasized it, although they rightly decried the manuring of the soil with large quantities of unrotted animal manures. Much of the “organically grown” foods now sold in the market have been raised on heavily manured soils.
Not only have the organic gardeners, in large numbers of instances, over composed their soils, the minds of great numbers of people have also been over-composted. More than a year ago I pointed out in the pages of the Review that there are large numbers of people running about from place to place in the country searching for organically grown foods, apparently with the idea that their very lives depend upon such foods. A few years ago some of these same people were indulging in soilless gardening (hydroponics) and they thought they were going to drag in the millennium by growing their foods in vats of water to which they had added minerals, but no organic matter of any kind.
These people are kept jumping from the griddle to the hot plate by all these passing fads and fancies, just as are the drug users kept running first after one cure-all and then after another wonder drug. There seems to be no limit to the ingenuity of the human mind. It can find more evils and more panaceas than the mind of the Infinite can conceive of. And it never fails to exploit its plausible non-sense for all that the traffic will bear.
A careful study of hydroponics should serve to dispel some of the present-day illusions about fertilization and plant nutrition. Careful consideration of the relatively few elements employed in hydroponics should answer some of the questions that now revolve around certain of the so-called “trace elements.” It seems certain that when the evidence is all in and has been given full consideration many people are going to discover that they have been giving a lot of emphasis to many things that have little or no value. They will discover that the undue importance that has been attached to certain elements of plant nutrition has caused them to do many foolish things.
These New York “Hygienists” will continue such “eating” until they wreck themselves (imagine going all winter without a salad), then they will turn to the medical hospital, as some of them have already turned to the slaughter house for food, and the medical profession will say: “This is the result of this Hygienic program.” A certain radio tout who is pitch-man for a packing industry will be informed of the dire results of “hygienic” eating, and he will send the message out over the air and large numbers of people will be convinced that they must eat ham rather than Greenlife pills. The story will be spread that Hyg9ienists live on distilled water and Greenlife pills.
No true Hygienist will ever take one of these pills. The Hygienist will go on eating natural foods and he will not permit himself to be frightened by the ghost stories told by those who have something to sell. Thirty, forty and fifty years ago the medical profession threw up its hands in holy horror at the very thought of eating uncooked foods. Lettuce, they told us, harbors typhoid germs. We must cook all foods to destroy germs, else we will all become ill with some serious germ disease. Hygienists went on eating lettuce and celery and other uncooked vegetables and refused to die of typhoid. In fact we have lived to see the medical man eating these same foods uncooked and we see train load after train load of these foods shipped to all parts of the nation at all seasons of the year so that even non-Hygienic laymen may also enjoy them.
Trop states that he believes in getting people to eat all of the organically grown foods they can get and that he is on record as to his views of the insecticides, but he believes that “we have put too much emphasis on organic foods in our meetings.” What he neglected to say is that, part of this over emphasizing of organically grown foods is due to fanaticism, part of it due to commercialism. He concludes his letter by saying that “the Hygienic point of view is all embracing. It recognizes that we should strive for the best in everything that is important to our well-being. These organic people have only a small part of the whole truth. Natural Hygiene is the complete picture.”
It would be welcomed by all of us if the so-called New York Natural Hygiene Society would become that in reality and not merely in name. A large group of Hygienists who have left this society because it has not been a genuine Hygiene society are, at this writing, planning to form a genuine Natural Hygiene society and affiliate from the outset with the American Society. Perhaps they would not regard this as necessary if the older organization will desert its concubine and return to its first love!
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