In speaking of erbswurst I remarked on its deficiency in fat, which is an important component of field rations, especially in cold weather, since it is fuel for the body. Pemmican owes much of its efficiency to the large percentage of fat. Captain Scott had the pemmican for his antarctic expedition made with 50% lard, which is pure fat. Such a mixture would nauseate many a man, but nearly everybody likes butter, which is the next most concentrated form of fat. The best field luncheon for cold weather, when you can get it, is in the form of sandwiches of toasted bread, thick slices of butter, and brown or maple sugar. It is very nourishing, and it will not freeze up like plain bread, as there is practically no water in it. Outfitters supply excellent butter, in one-pound cans, that will keep in any climate.
Butter is out of the question in an emergency ration that is to be sealed up and kept indefinitely. There are, however, certain other fats that will take its place as fuel.
Desiccated Eggs, if prepared from the whole egg, contain 36% of fat. They are also remarkably rich in protein. There is no good reason, except its cost and the fact that it requires cooking, why egg powder should not form a considerable constituent of an emergency ration, as it keeps perfectly when protected from moisture. (See Vol. I., pp. 183 and 189). Its fat content is nearly equal to that of full cream cheese, and its fuel value nearly a third more.
Chocolate, in plain form, contains about 49% of vegetable fat; less, of course, when sweetened. It is necessary, however, for eating purposes, that chocolate should have considerable sugar added, and this is directly a gain, for sugar itself is stored energy, as we soon shall see. Chocolate never gets stale.
It requires no cooking, can be eaten on the march, yet a stimulating hot drink can be prepared from it in a few minutes. It is the experience of Alpinists and other go-light artists that no other raw food of equal weight and bulk will carry a man so far under severe strain as a handful of raisins and a cake of chocolate. When eaten by itself, chocolate is constipating and cloying, at least to some people. Raisins eaten along with it prevent digestive troubles; a couple of crackers help the ration.
There is a "camper's emergency ration," carried in stock by outfitters, that contains chocolate, malted milk, egg albumen, casein, sugar, and cocoa butter, with added coffee flavor. Three cakes of it, each sufficient for a meal, are wrapped in paper and tinfoil and enclosed in a sealed box with key-opener, the box being 4 1/2 x 3 x 1 3/8 inches, and rounded for the pocket. The net weight of the ration is 8 ounces; gross weight of box filled, 11 1/2 ounces. Chocolate is not to be recommended for hot weather.
The table of food values in Vol. I., pp. 182-184, shows that various nuts are very rich in vegetable fat, and so have high fuel values. They are discussed on page 196 of the same volume. Nuts should be chewed thoroughly, so as to be well mixed with saliva, or they will clog the digestive tract.
Sugar has peculiar merit as a component of the emergency ration. All old-timers know from experience that one has an unusual craving for sweets when working hard afield. Hunters and lumberjacks and soldiers suffered from that craving long before scientists discovered the cause of it, which is that during hard muscular exertion the consumption of sugar in the body increases fourfold.
It may sound odd but it is true, that when hunters or explorers are reduced to a diet of meat "straight" the most grateful addition that they could have would be something sweet. Men can get along very well on venison, without bread, if they have maple sugar or candy and some citric acid (crystallized lemon juice) to go with it. And there is good reason for this. Sugars have about the same food uses as starches, because all starch must be converted into sugar or dextrin before it can be assimilated. Mark, then, that sugar needs no conversion; therefore it acts quickly as a pick-me-up to relieve fatigue, while bread or any other starchy food would have to go first through the process of changing into sugar before it could supply force and heat to the body.
A great advantage of sweets is that every normal person likes them. Another is that they are antiseptic and preservative, which adapts them perfectly to use in rations that may have to be stored or carried a long time before using.
These are not merely my own individual opinions, )although all my experience backs them. Since the worth of sweets in a sportsman's or soldier's food supply is commonly underrated, or even ridiculed, through sheer crass ignorance, let me quote from Thompson, one of the most eminent of our dieticians :
"The value of sweets in the adult dietary has of late years found recognition in armies. The British War Office shipped 1,500,000 pounds of jam to South Africa as a four months' supply for 116,000 troops, and one New York firm, during the Spanish-American War, shipped over fifty tons of confectionery to the troops in Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippines. The confectionery consisted of chocolate creams, cocoanut macaroons, lemon and other acid fruit drops. . .
"An old-time custom among soldiers in the field is to fill a canteen with two parts vinegar and one part molasses as an emergency sustaining drink. . . .
"Sugar furnishes, in addition to heat, considerable muscle energy, and it has been lately proved by Mosso, Vaughn Harley and others to have distinct power in relieving muscular fatigue.
"Vaughn Harley found that with an exclusive diet of 17 1/2 ounces of sugar dissolved in water he could perform almost as much muscular work as upon a full mixed diet. The effect in lessening muscle fatigue was noticeable in half an hour and reached a maximum in two hours. Three or four ounces of sugar taken before the expected onset of fatigue postponed or entirely inhibited the sensation.