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THE QUARTERLY

JOURNAL OF SCIENCE.

JANUARY, 1868.

I. ON AN EXTRANEOUS MEAT SUPPLY.

By JAMES SAMUELSON, Editor. THERE is no subject which has engaged the attention of the British public during the last few years, of such paramount importance as the great “meat question.” That staple food of our countrymen of all ranks has been gradually becoming more costly and difficult of acquirement; the highest class of agriculturists, the lettered men of the farm, although they have lost no opportunity to improve our breeds of domestic cattle, have observed with anxiety the constantly increasing demand and the disproportionate supply of live-stock; whilst our labouring classes, the muscle and sinew of the nation, have found the description of food which is, to them, indispensable for the performance of their daily toil receding month by month from their reach. And in this, as in all similar emergencies, it is becoming the fashion to look to "Science" for aid, and to censure her should the relief not be immediate and effective. Our coal supply threatens to fail us —"Science" must enable us to penetrate more deeply into the bowels of the earth; and whilst she teaches us to economize and husband our present supply, must provide us with a larger store in the future. She, too, must bring distant lands nearer, enabling us to draw upon their mineral wealth. Already we are told that an exorbitant price in the London market would attract a supply of coal from Westphalia. Civil war sweeps over the great cotton-growing districts of the West, and, in consequence, famine makes rapid inroads into our manufacturing centres. The products of other lands in the far East are considered unfit for our purposes; but soon the staple is improved abroad, new machinery is fitted up at home, and the bitter cup is averted by "Science.”

Nor must it be supposed, because one section of the scientific community is directing its attention to abstract questions with respect to food, as, for example, the relative heat-giving and worksustaining properties of nitrogenous and non-nitrogenous substances,

VOL. V.

that therefore scientific men are regardless of the more practical aspect of that matter.

As we have already said, agriculturists are improving the breed of our cattle and seeking to bring a better supply to the meat market; manufacturers are multiplying our stores of artificial fodder, so that a good or bad season for pasture is of less moment than formerly, and each succeeding year brings us stores of fresh materials for this purpose from some new quarter of the globe; whilst chemists and meat curers are engaged in the keenest competition to preserve beef and other kinds of flesh abroad and at home; so that all the resources of art and science are being brought to bear in the effort to counteract the result of cattle plagues, the rapacity of butchers, and a rapidly increasing population.

But there is, at present, one grave obstacle in the way of obtaining effectual relief from a short supply of meat, which extends to hardly any similar substance, and that is the difficulty of importing it from abroad in its fresh condition. Cotton shipped from distant parts arrives here unimpaired in quality and undepreciated in value; so too coffee, tea, wheat, and hundreds of other necessaries and luxuries of life; but with the exception of smoked or salted flesh imported from a distance, and the limited supply of lean cattle brought from nearer countries, and rendered still more limited by cattle plague regulations, we have so far been unable to avail ourselves to any large extent of the live-stock of other parts of the globe. Something has, however, been accomplished, and in what condition we should have been, were that not the case, it is impossible to surmise. From Holland, Belgium, and other European countries we have for a long time past obtained supplies of leanstock which has been rapidly fed in England (chiefly upon food originally the produce of Russia, India, and Africa), and placed upon our markets. Hams, bacon, and pickled or salted beef have formed a considerable feature in our North American import trade, and recent advertisements have informed the public that South American press-packed beef, of the finest quality and free from bone, is retailed "at a handsome profit to the dealer at fourpence per pound;” of the last named, it is right to say, that it cannot be looked upon as a description of food which will long maintain its footing, and the enterprising men who have so far succeeded in preserving their meat, must improve its quality, or it will not find its way into competition with our best English beef: to this subject we shall refer fully hereafter. A not unimportant feature in our meat-supply, and one for which we are solely indebted to Science, is the manufacture of the so-called “ Extractum Carnis” of Professor Liebig, a process, as our readers are doubtless well aware, by which the nutritive properties of meat are condensed into a portable form, and brought from other parts of the world, from whence it would be difficult at

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