Living as we are six thousand years removed from the Garden of Eden with its bountiful variety of nuts, grains, and fruits, it is somewhat difficult for us to appreciate God's original plan of diet for the human family. In spite of all the scientific knowledge in the field of nutrition and dietetics, we still find that mil lions of people do not know how to eat properly in order to maintain good health. Eating is more than a pastime; it is an absolute necessity. We live to eat, and we eat to live. Unfortunately too many persons cater to appetite rather than educate the appetite to select the best foods possible for human consumption.
Of all people in the world, Seventh-day Adventists should be the best informed as to the best foods, how to prepare them, and how to maintain health through proper nutrition. But, unfortunately, this is not always true. In spite of excellent health literature in the form of cookbooks and health journals, there is still a great deal of ignorance on the part of Seventh-day Adventists in the field of healthful cookery.
Not too long ago a medical doctor was heard to say that he hardly thought health lectures were essential in this enlightened age. But any one who comes in close contact with homes of the people will soon realize that this particular doctor is not too well acquainted with their everyday lives.
It is true that one can shop at the chain grocery store in almost any city in America and find many foods ready-prepared to take home for the daily meals. The shelves are loaded with breads, many of them boasting that they have been enriched with this or that vitamin. The word "vitamin" seems to be used to cover a multitude of other deficiencies today. Commercialized as it is, we need to be careful that we are not carried away with the powerful propaganda of the manufacturers.
We have been told that there is "more good religion in a loaf of bread than many think."I am sure that this does not mean the ordinary bread that may be purchased in the grocery store or in the ordinary bakery. It does mean the good whole-wheat bread baked in the family oven or at one of our institutions where health principles are followed, although occasionally one can find good bread elsewhere too. Some authorities now say that it is as important to have bread made from freshly ground flour as it is to have fresh milk daily.
At the Kentucky-Tennessee camp meeting opportunity was given to those in attendance to participate in a series of healthful cookery classes conducted by Mrs. Wesley Amundsen, with the assistance of Elder Amundsen, and one of her helpers, Miss Opal Lowery. from the Madison College cafeteria, where Mrs. Amundsen had charge of the culinary department for the past year.
It was quite apparent that not only women but quite a number of men were interested in this subject, for the meetings were well attended during the hours assigned to this phase of instruction. It was quite apparent also that the instruction was geared to the range of all present. Complex presentation of calories and food chemistry was omitted. Simple discussion of what to cook and how to cook it was the order of the day.
Elder Amundsen keynoted each session with well-chosen statements from the Bible and the writings of the Spirit of prophecy. He used such statements as:
"In order to know what are the best foods, we must study God's original plan for man's diet. He who created man and who understands his needs appointed Adam his food. 'Behold,' He said, 'I have given you every herb yielding seed, . . . and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food.' Upon leaving Eden to gain his livelihood by tilling the earth under the curse of sin, man received permission to eat also 'the herb of the field.'
"Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator. These foods, prepared in as simple and natural a manner as possible, are the most healthful and nourishing. They impart a strength, a power of endurance, and a vigor of intellect, that are not afforded by a more complex and stimulating diet. . . .
"Care should be taken in the selection of food. Our diet should be suited to the season, to the climate in which we live, and to the occupation we follow. Some foods that are adapted for use at one season or in one climate are not suited to an other. So there are different foods best suited for persons in different occupations. . . . God has given us an ample variety of healthful foods, and each person should choose from it the things that experience and sound judgment prove to be best suited to his own necessities." Ministry of Healing, pp. 295-297. S FF
Elder Amundsen stated that the following quotation was what he called "God's teachings on the subject of dietetics":
"In the use of foods, we should exercise good, sound common sense. When we find that a certain food does not agree with us, we need not write letters of inquiry to learn the cause of the disturbance. Change the diet; use less of some foods; try other preparations. Soon we shall know the effect that certain combinations have on us. As intelligent human beings, let us individually study the principles, and use our experience and judgment in deciding what foods are best for us." Counsels on Health, pp. 476, 477.
"It is a wonderful process that transforms the food into blood, and uses this blood to build up the varied parts of the body; but this process is going on continually, supplying with life and strength each nerve, muscle, and tissue." Ministry of Healing, p. 295.
In the presentation of themes for consideration by Mrs. Amundsen, four major fields of healthful cookery were explained: "What Is Food?" "The Quality and Preparation of Food," "Proper Balance of Foods," and "Pleasure in Eating."
Emphasis was placed upon such points as the right kinds of food for the human body, the best way to prepare this food, seven basic groupings of foods, right and wrong combinations, cooking foods in a palatable manner, eye-appeal in food preparation, arrangement of food dishes on the table, how to obtain the most possible good from the food we eat, making vegetarian cookery appealing to the senses as well as nutritious, enjoying good food, building sound bodies through proper diet, choosing the right foods for persons in various walks of life as well as for the growing child and the adult.
At the close of each session samples of delightful vegetarian roasts and other health food dishes were distributed to the class members. A special carrot corn bread was included that was simply delicious. Recipes were also provided, so that these dishes might be prepared in the homes of the people.
Mrs. Amundsen is no novice in the field of healthful and palatable cookery. She is the author of a tropical vegetarian cookbook that she compiled while connected with the Inter-American Division, the title of which is, Cook Better and Live Longer. This book has had a phenomenal distribution throughout the English and Spanish fields of Mexico and Central America, the northern countries of South America, and the West Indies.
Healthful cookery can be made appealing and of great value to Seventh-day Adventists. We need more good Seventh-day Adventist cooks, those who understand how to prepare the foods God has given to us in such a way as to help His people to maintain sound bodies, clear minds, and steady nerves.
Lectures on health and healthful cookery are essential, and with these lectures we need the practical application of the principles they expound.