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JAMA 100 Years Ago | December 7, 1912|

FALSE FOOD STANDARDS AND THE HIGH COST OF LIVING

JAMA. 2012;308(20):2066. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.3345.
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December 7, 1912

The current discussion regarding the high cost of living raises the question as to the various ways in which the situation can be met and ameliorated. Legislative enactments can accomplish no permanent gain when they are based on false principles; for economic adjustments are bound to follow in counteracting ways along directions that are often totally unsuspected. Propaganda is likewise rarely productive of helpful and permanent reforms unless it relies on indisputable scientific facts and makes a rational appeal to the masses. On the other hand, there are popular prejudices so deeply rooted that it frequently seems almost hopeless to attempt to correct them, especially in these days when almost every legitimate effort at scientific reform is popularly charged with elements of suspicion. It is easy enough to secure attention for some new food product by a well-worded advertisement, or to win favor for some ridiculous impossibility such as soap made from buttermilk or oatmeal; but pages of argument are unavailing to convince the average American that real butter is rarely of a deep yellow color. Too often the pure product awakens in him the suggestion of grease, so thoroughly has he become falsely trained to demand artificial color in butter.

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