When a party camps where fresh meat and farm products can be procured as they are wanted, its provisioning is chiefly a matter of taste, and calls for no special comment here. But to have good meals in the wilderness is a different matter. A man wrill eat five or six pounds a day of fresh foodc That is a heavy load on the trail. And fresh meat, dairy products, fruit, and vegetables, are generally too bulky, too perishable. So it is up to the woodsman to learn how to get the most nourishment out of the least weight and bulk, in materials that " keep " well.
Light outfitting, as regards food, is mainly a question of how much water we are willing to carry in our rations. For instance, canned peaches are 88 per cent, water. Can one afford to carry so much water from home when there is plenty of it at camp?
The following table is suggestive:
More than 3/4 Water.
More than 1/2 Water.
More than 1/3 Water.
Potted chicken, etc.
Less than 1/3 Water.
Dried apples, apricots, peaches, prunes. Fruit jelly.
Less than 1/5 Water.
Wheat flour, corn meal, etc. Macaroni.
Rice, oatmeal, hominy, etc.
Dried beans, split peas.
Dried dates, figs, raisins.
Orange marmalade. Sugar. Chocolate.
Nuts. Nut butter.
Although this table is good in its way, it is not a fair measure of the relative value of foods. Even the solid part of some foodstuffs contains a good leal of refuse (fresh potatoes 20 per cent.), while others have none.
The nutritive elements of foodstuffs are protein, a little mineral matter, fats, and carbohydrates. Protein is the basis of muscle, bone, tendon, cartilage, skin, and the corpuscles of the blood. Fats and carbohydrates supply heat and muscular energy. In other words, the human body is an engine; protein keeps it in repair; fats and carbohydrates are the fuel to run it.
Familiar examples of proteids are lean meat and white of egg. The chief food fats are fat meat, butter, lard, oil, and cream. Carbohydrates are starchy foods (flour, cereals, etc.) and sugar (sweets of almost any kind).
Protein is the most important element of food, because nothing else can take its place in building up tissues and enriching the fluids of the body, whereas, in emergency, it can also supply power and heat, and thus run the human machine for a while without other fuel.
Men can live on foods deficient in protein, such as rice and potatoes, but they become anemic, weak, and subject to beriberi, pellagra, or other serious disease. Anyone can observe for himself the evil effects of a diet poor in protein but rich in heating power by traveling through our " hog and hominy belt." Fat pork contains hardly any protein; neither do the cabbage and potatoes that usually flank it on the negro's or poor-white's table. As for corn bread, when made as a plain hoecake or the like, it is in much the same class, and what protein it does contain is difficult to digest.
On the other hand, an undue proportion of lean meat, fish, dried beans, and other high-proteid foods, brings another train of ills. As Dr. Atwater says, "A dog can live on lean meat: he can convert its material into muscle and its energy into heat and muscular power. Man can do the same; but such a one-sided diet would not be best for the dog, and it would be still worse for the man".
The problem of a well-balanced ration consists in supplying daily the right proportion of nutritive elements in agreeable and digestible form. The problem of a campaign ration is the same, but cutting out most of the water and waste in which fresh foods abound. However, in getting rid of the water in fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables, we. lose, unfortunately, much of the volatile essences that give these foods their good flavors. This loss — and it is a serious one — must be made up by the camp cook changing the menu as often as he can, by varying the ingredients and the processes of cooking.
Variety is quite as welcome at the camp board as anywhere else — in fact more so, for it is hardet to get. Variety need not mean adding to the load-It means substituting, say, three 5-lb. parcels for one 15-lb. parcel, so as to have something "different" from day to day.
There is an old school of campers who affect to scorn such things. " We take nothing with us," they say, " but pork, flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and coffee — our guns and rods furnish ut varietv." This sounds sturdy, but there is a deal Dt humbug in it. A spell of bad weather may de feat the best of hunters and fishermen. Even granting that luck is good, the kill is likely to be of one kind at a time. With only the six articles named, nobody can serve the same game in a variety of ways. Now, consider a moment. How would you like to sit down to nothing but fried chicken and biscuit, three times a day? Chicken everlastingly fried in pork grease — and, if you tire of that, well, eat fried " sow-belly," and sop your bread in the grease! It is just the same with trout or bass as it is with chicken; the same with pheasant or duck, rabbit or squirrel or bear. The only kind of wild meat that civilized man can relish for three consecutive meals, served in the same fashion, is venison of the deer family. Go, then, prepared to lend variety to your menu. Food that palls is bad food — worse in camp than anywhere else, for you can't escape to a restaurant.
The energy developed by food is measured in calories. A calorie is the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water through four degrees Fahrenheit. A man at moderately active muscular work requires about 3,400 calories of food-fuel a day; one at hard muscular work, about 4,150; one at very hard work, about 5,500 calories (Atwater's figures).