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Cold storage of perishable foodstuffs
has developed with such amazing rapidity into a gigantic industry throughout
the land that we have been confronted
with uncomfortable suddenness with
some perplexing problems in the control
of our food supply.
The two large storage plants in Cincinnati are admirably managed. Perishable foods are scientifically and expertly handled in rooms chilled in varying degree according to the perishability of respective foods. Furthermore,
it is to the financial advantage of cold
storage concerns to limit, if possible, the
length of time of storage to cansignors.
Rates for storage decrease month by
month after the first month. The
shorter the term, therefore, the more
profitable the business, for space is always in demand and but little remains
But there is a woeful lack of federal,
state and municipal legislation for the
control of stored foods. It appears to
be comparatively easy for food profiteers to hold their perishable commodities for an indefinite period and unload
upon the market at inflated prices when
the opportunity, created by themselves,
occurs. We should not be prejudicial,
however. Let us go into the matter
with catholic-mindedness. Let us be
neither deceived by the bland explanation of food handlers nor ingratiated
by criticism which may conceal an ulterior purpose.
In the state of Ohio fresh meats may
be kept in storage for six months and
eggs for ten months., Fruits and vegetables and other perishable foods may
be kept indefinitely. Shades of Blackstone, Coke and Littleton, why the
omission! Even in the case of meat and"
eggs there is nothing to prevent dealers
from skipping from one plant to another at the expiration of time limits
and thus cdntinue the pleasant game of
10, 1919 No. 5
battledore and shuttleock, which must
afford them considerable cynical enjoyment, if they, are guilty of such practices. If there is a class of men who
deserve the epithet of "Storage Hounds"
let us put them in leash.
Perhaps the blame, if the natural law
of supply and demand has been rendered
nil by illicit manipulation, should not be
laid entirely at the door of the middleman. The producers, the farmers, are
known to have their grange meetings and
combinations and various societies for
the promotion of the general welfare of
their class. It is natural to suppose that.
grangers acting in concert in certain districts agree on prices, and withhold shipments from some localities while unloading on others, according to the stress
of demand or the lack of it.
We realize that refrigeration of foods
to preserve them for use in seasons
when there would be otherwise a natural scarcity, and even total lack of certain kinds, serves an excellent purpose.
The prime objects are to prevent waste
and make possible for the community a
well-balanced ration throughout the
year. Decay of perishable foods in storage, particularly at the fag end of the
seasons, is bound to occur, but investigations by the Health Department lead
us to believe that it is not to a very appreciable extent. When we consider the
enormous quantities of foodstuffs received and disbursed from storage during the period of a year, the percentage
condemned on account of decay is not
great. Furthermore, consignments of
fruits found damaged may very properly be partly salvaged and waste thus
Cold storage is, therefore, a great
boon to civilized life, which should not
be lost sight of in formulating regulations for its control. Abuses have undoubtedly crept in. It is easy to conceive that high prices may.be due to
chicanery and manipulation by the too