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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Politics and History

Human Food

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Transcript from original newspaper article: -

HUMAN FOOD. – It was first the fruits of trees that man found as food, and on fruits still subsist many savage tribes of the Amazon. The natives of the Society Islands subsisted likewise for the most part on fruits. But to this insufficient means of alimentation man was not long in joining what hunting and fishing yielded. To satisfy his appetite, sharpened by a long fast, he, like the animal, devoured his prey almost whilst it was still alive, and without preparing it. This voracity still prevails amongst a great number of savage populations, which do not occupy quite the lowest step in the social scale, and the taste for raw flesh has even been perpetuated among peoples such as the Abyssinians, who have arrived at an advanced social state, and who, under the name of broundou, relish it as a delicious repast. The need of preserving, for many days, animal food, of softening the hard and bony parts, which the teeth could not crush, led to cooking it, sometimes simply in the sun, sometimes on hot cinders. It was thus that animal food cooked became almost universal. The savage does not feel the need for that incessant variety of food which European refinement has created. Every people, savage or barbarous, has a circumscribed range of food which the soil furnished, and from which that people seldom deviates. The Greenlanders, the Tchoutchis, the Pecherais live almost entirely on fish, or on the flesh of marine animals. Hunting tribes prefer venison, and pastoral peoples, or those that rear cattle, prefer the flesh of their flocks, or of their domestic animals. In North America, the Comanches and some other Indian tribes have no other food than the flesh of the bisons, the hunting of which forms almost all their occupation. In the same way the Laplanders and the Siberian tribes live on the flesh of the reindeer, the Kalmucks on the flesh of the horse. Many Polynesian populations, among whom mammiferous animals were exceedingly rare, ate the dog. – Maury.