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FISH DIET

From the Scotsman. The growing demand for animal food in this country has hitherto been chiefly met by increased supplies of meat, obtained in the form of live stock from tho Continent, of frozen carcases from America, and of tinned meats from the Antipode". The gigantic proportions which our foreign butcher’s bill has thus attained of late years may be in part attributed to the comparative neglect in this country of another source of animxl food —namely fishes, of which its rivers, lakes, and surrounding seas might, by enlightened enterprise, be made to yield an enormously greater harvest. This neglect is probably somewhat due to the fact that the value of fish as an article of food is very generally under-estimated. In many parts of the world, and especially along the northern shores of Europe, Asia, and America, where vegetation is of the scantiest description, fish form the chief, if not the only, food of the inhabitants. The Siberians bake bread with a meal formed by grinding down the dried remains of fish, while it is true of the majority of dwellers in every fishing village, that fish, and uot flesh, form the great bulk of their animal food ; yet, as Dr. Davy remarks in “ The angler and his friend”—“ In no other class than in that of fishers do we see larger families, handsomer women, or more robust men. ” The number of fish species fised as food is much larger than that either of birds or mammals, and there is similarly a greater diversity in their ixuti-itiousness. The nutritive value of any food depends on its digestibility, and on the quantity of flesh and force producing material which a given amount of it contains, the fleshproducing matter consisting chiefly of such nitrogenous substances as albumen, fibxxne and gelatine, while the force producing qualities lie mainly in its fat. In both of those respects considerable difference obtains between the two groups into which food fishes ax’e usually divided —namely, the white blooded, of which the cod is an example, and tho red-blooded, of which the salmon is the type. The latter, as a rule, contain more oil than the former, and have it distributed throughout the muscle and immediately beneath the skin in much the same way as the flesh of mammals, while in the former the oil is chiefly concentrated in the liver. The redblooded fish thus afford a richer diet, but for the same reason, they are, as a rule, much less digestible than white fish. The maximum force-producing power of one pound of certain common articles of food when c orxsumed in the human body, has been calculated from actual experiment by Professor Fiankland, and from the results thus obtained it would appear that a pound of whiting—one of tho white fish thus digested and oxidized in the body will produce a force equal to that expended in raising 491 tons one foot high; while a pound of mackerel —rne of the redblooded group —owing to the much larger quantity of oil which it contains, is capable of producing a force equal to 1000 tons raised one foot high. With regard to force producing power, most of the other food fishes are intermediate between a whiting and a mackerel. Comparing fish in this respect with other forms of animal food, it is found that a pound of lean beef will produce a force equal to 885 tons raised one foot —that is considerably less than a similar quantity of mackerel—while the lean of veal is only equal to the production of a force of 75C tons raised one foot. A pound of mackerel, on the other hand, can produce at the maximum 3| ounces of muscle or flesh, while the same quantity of lean beef can only produce 2J- ounces. Fish oils are exceedingly rich in the forceproducing element, cod-liver oil being placed in this respect above all the other food substances experimented upon by Professor Frankland, a pound of it digested and oxidized in the human body being found capable of producing force equal to 5649 tons raised one foot high. The muscle of fish usually contains less nitrogenous or fleshforming material than that of mammals, and generally less fat, but the difference in these respects is, in many cases, comparatively trifling. Thus lean beef, according to Dr. Pavy, contains 19 3 per cent, of nitrogenous matter, while whitefish contains 18 T percent. ; the former having also 3 6 per cent, of fat, against 2'9 per cent, in the latter. Fish also have special value in human diet, owing to the larger proportion of plxosphorus contained in them tlxan in other forms of animal food ; and as, according to Buchner, there is “ no thinking witlxout phosphorus,” writers on dietetics have recommended them to brain-workers and all who are liable to mental worry and anxiety. Buchner’s assertion, however, is scientifically accurate only so far as it is a statement of the fact that phosphorus is a necessary constituent of that nervous matter which forms the apparatus of thought, and that, as a recent wx-iter puts it, “for the integrity of thought, integrity of the nervous tissue is requisite, and for the integrity of the nervous tissue a due quantity of digestible phospbatic salts.” The eel is the°oiliest of all fishes, but is correspondingly deficient in nitrogenous matter, containing only 10 pex’ cent, of the latter, but having at least 14 per cent, of fat. The Jews were prohibited from eating eels by the Levitical law, which forbade the eating of “whatsoever had no scales or fins in the water. ” Prej udico has led to an almost equal abstinence from the eating of cels on the part of the Scottish people, although in other fish-eating countries they form a favorite dish. Especially is this the case in England, where the demand for eels always exceeds the supply, and where no fewer than ten millions of them are annually brought to Billingsgate for the supply of the metropolitan market. It is also a special favorite with the Italians, who cultivate it in the great lagoons of the Adriatic, and the Neapolitans, who import it to the extent of a million pounds annually. The quality of fish is greatly affected by the act of spawning. Immediately before this operation they are at their best ; tor some time after it they ax - e out of season, and barely fit for food.*]

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FISH DIET Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 81, 1 April 1880

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