"Please pass the grass." This request, sounding fantastic if expressed at the present-day dinner table, may in time become a commonplace remark at tables of the future. For of all growing things, the grasses contain the greatest number and the greatest variety of those life-giving elements, the vitamins. In fact, say some vitamin enthusiasts, grass has everything, and a blade a day keeps the doctor away.
This was first suspected, then proved, by Charles F. Schnabel of Kansas City. Readers may recall that Mr. Schnabel, a former millfeed chemist who, though he lost his job in the depression, never lost his faith in grass as the vitamin-bearer par excellence of the vegetable world, and never lost his idea that it could be adapted for human use. He experimented, using himself and his large family as subjects, until he learned most of what there was to know on the subject, including what grasses to choose, how to prepare them, and even when to cut them. So successful were these experiments that he was able to find backers willing to donate research laboratories and chemists to further the project, and it is of interest to report that he cut himself a nice piece of grass out of the deal, obtaining an important position in the new company.
Nor was his success merely financial. The merit of his work was so well recognized that Kansas City's Rockhurst College gave him an honorary degree for his services to humanity.
Since then the idea has spread far afield from Kansas City. Now there are grass vitamin enthusiasts all over the Nation. One of the keenest of these and easily one of the best looking, is Miss Maltier Chauncey, teacher in the vocational schools of Chattanooga. Her interest developed some time ago when, on a visit to Washington, she happened to hear of Mr. Schnabel's grass pills. As she was just recovering from an illness she bought some on the off chance that they might hasten recuperation, and to her delight they did.
Had the matter ended there, there would be no story; but it didn't. Returning to Chattanooga, she continued to take them even after recovery was complete, and, like Dr. Emil Coue, every day in every way felt better and hefter - far better than many of her pupils, especially those from underprivileged families whose diet was not balanced and who lacked vitamins. She determined to share her own good health with these youngsters.
Grass Pills for School Kids
She went to school and health authorities and obtained permission to feed these pills to selected students during school hours. Of necessity their parents' permission was obtained as well.
In the city hall at Chattanooga all school children are registered, and along with their names are recorded such data as age, height and weight. Miss Chauncey to obtain the best results and do the most good, consulted this list in making up her class or clinic. When she found a woeful deficiency of weight - far below what the average would be considering age and height - she checked that name; and when she had seven, four boys and three girls, she began the treatment.
The necessity of so much research and so many permissions to be obtained gave publicity to the experiment. The seven children became fairly well known throughout Chattanooga, and were subject to a good deal of kidding. But their resolutions did not weaken, and they kept on.
How did the test come out? The answer is given by Miss Chauncey in person, on a recent visit to Washington. "The test was a brilliant success," she said. "I can do better than merely give you this opinion. Actual figures will back me up. Here they are.,'
The three girls, who took only half as many pills as the boys, in four months gained an average of 10.14 pounds apiece. The boys' average gain was 15.44 pounds.
It is not to be thought for a moment that they actually ate that weight of grass. No one, except Nebuchadnezzar, did that - and Nebuchadnezzar was crazy. But was he? He was certainly ignorant of vitamins, but he thrived on his grass diet just the same. He absorbed more vitamins than any one else in his kingdom, and perhaps it was these that enabled him to make a mental comeback with his body in good physical condition.
"For years four-footed animals were wiser than men," says Miss Chauncey.
"Cats and dogs instinctively eat grass, not because they wish to turn entirely vegetarian, but because something tells them that a little grass in their diet will help their health."
"The research on grass is by no means complete, but even the most skeptical scientists admit that it is rich in vitamins. Every known vitamin is present in some kind of grass - and probably most of those so far unknown."
She explained that according to the general scientific consensus, about half of Nature's vitamins have been identified, separated and tagged with unimaginative letters of the alphabet for the layman's use, and jawbreaking formulae for the analytical chemist. When the other half is conquered, Miss Chauncey confidently expects to find all, or nearly all, in grass.
Research has, however, gone far enough to determine the best time in which to cut the grass to capture the maximum number and variety of vitamins. This is just before it begins to develop joints. The best time of the day to pick it is 4 a.m. If this is done, a pound of grass has 360 times the vitamin content of a pound of the average vegetable. But as there is no known vitamin which makes any one want to get up at 4 a.m. and mow the lawn, not even in grass, it is a lot more practical to let some one else do it and make pills of it.
Parents and teachers who are interested may communicate with Miss Chauncey at the Vocational School System of Chattanooga and she will gladly respond. They should, however, ask in their own interests as well as those of the children. It would be fatal to put the children on such a powerful vitamin diet that their resistance is built up to a point where they are practically untameable, unless parents and teachers go on the same diet and keep pace with them.
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