Long before calories and joules were used to indicate energy values in relation to food, popular belief had it that some foods could increase man's output of labour, his physical strength and endurance, even his fertility. The nature of the foods varied over the years. From earliest times, flesh foods have inspired men to “gird their loins” and “put on armour”, but too long at the feasting tables produced sloth of body and spirit. Hunger sharpens the wit, which makes one wonder if that oft‐quoted statement of poverty and hunger before the Great War—“children too hungry learn”—was quite true; it is now so long ago for most of us to remember. Thetruism “An army marches on its stomach” related to food in general and relating feats of strength to individual foods is something more difficult to prove. The brawny Scot owes little to his porridge; the toiling Irish labourer moves mountains of earth, not from the beef steaks he claims to consume, but for the size of the pay‐packet at the end of the week!
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