The True Scots Receipt For Porridge

A tautology, true by definition, as in “no true Scot would ha’ it otherwise!”

And other foods from Scotland…

The close relationship for centuries between Scotland and France left many influences, though not as much for simple basic foods.


>Bring the water to the boil and as soon as it reaches boiling-point add the oatmeal, letting it fall in a steady rain and stirring it briskly the while with the right, sunwise, or the right-turn for luck – and convenience. A porridge-stick, called a spurtle, and in some parts a theevil, or, as in Shetland, a gruel-tree, is used for this purpose. Be careful to avoid lumps, unless the children clamour for them.

When the porridge is boiling steadily, draw the mixture to the side and put on the lid. Let it cook for from twenty to thirty minutes according to the quality of the oatmeal, and do not add the salt, which has a tendency to harden the meal and prevent its swelling, until it has cooked for at least ten minutes. On the other hand, never cook porridge without salt. Ladle straight into porringers or soup-plates and serve with small individual bowls of cream, or milk, or buttermilk. Each spoonful of porridge, which should be very hot, is dipped in the cream or milk, which should be quite cold, before it is conveyed to the mouth.

Children often like a layer of sugar, honey, syrup, or treacle, or of raw oatmeal on top. A morsel of butter in the centre of the plate agrees with some digestions better than milk.

Porter, skeachan, and brisk small beer used to be popular accompaniments to porridge. In his poem “Scotch Drink” (which in his day was ale) Burns writes:

The poor man’s wine,
His wee drap parritch, or his breid,
Thou kitchens [give a relish to] fine

In Scots, porridge, like broth, is spoken of as “they”. “‘Why do ye no sup yer parritch’ ‘I dinna like them; they’re unco wersh (very insipid); gi’e me a wee pickle saut.'” – Jamieson.

The old custom is to stand while supping porridge. A friend of the writer’s recollects being slapped by her Highland nurse for not standing up to “them”. As to whether the custom has any mystical significance or is merely an application of that proverb that “a staunin’ (standing) sack fills the fu’est”, I profess no opinion.

–F. M. McN.

Recipe taken from The Scots Kitchen by F. Marian McNeill, published by Birlinn Ltd and reproduced with their kind permission.

A footnote in Scots Kitchen led to the books by Anne MacVicker Grant, this from Letters From The Mountains, 1807.
>I, who for my part detest every mode
of selfish luxury, could not endure to see a native
highlander make his good humour dependent on
a good breakfast, and was moreover disgusted by
certain learned strictures* on new-laid eggs, which
I am sure made no part of his college acquisitions.

* Among the peculiarities of highland manners is an
avowed contempt for the luxuries of the table. A high-
land hunter will eat with a keen appetite and sufficient
discrimination. But were he to stop in any pursuit, be-
cause it was meal time, to growl over a bad dinner, or
visibly exult over a good one, the manly dignity of his
character would be considered as fallen for ever.

Take that you self-indulgent whining wimps of any nation!
(By the way, hypoglycemia is usually a result of hyperglycemia, so don’t stoop to use that excuse)
Postscript #2 There is one problem with newly laid eggs, that the membrane sticks to the inside of the shell and makes it difficult to peel the shell from boiled eggs


Note that old texts often refer to cooked grain as meat and what we now call meat as flesh.

Path or History and Process Dependent Artifacts:

Oats do not contain gluten but may have wheat or other gluten residue from previous other grains processed on the same equipment.

Whole oat groats with the hull removed are not so likely to be contaminated since the intact seed is clean vs. meal or flakes that cannot be easily cleaned of all debris.

>From its location in Waterloo, IA, Roskamp Champion has been manufacturing milling equipment for over 60 years.

The company was started when John Roskamp invented and manufactured the first commercial oat huller for dehulling oats for hog feed. The Challenger oat huller is still sold and manufactured today, with few changes from the original design.

The old processes for removing the hull, more adherent than most other grains: either steam and roll while the oats were more pliable, or grind and remove the hulls by a winnowing/fanning procedure.

In both cases the Thrifty Scots made use of the remaining hulls, chaff and adhering bran and grain, called pron and/or sids adding water (the soaked mix was called serf) then fermenting for a few days after which the more solid part is sowans, the liquid is swats. They can be used in other recipes, much like kvass in Russia.

Modern buckwheat flour with black specks of hull is another example of tastes and food preferences dictated by earlier technology. When whole buckwheat is ground first then separated in a fanning mill to remove the black hulls some fine hull particles are left. The invention of roller mills changed the scale of flour milling in Minneapolis, Minnesota and other cities around the world to become grain and flour centers for large regions vs. the stone mills which were only able to serve local markets. Roller milling leaves the buckwheat hull (and wheat germ) nearly intact to be separated and removed. New technologies as with oats allowed the hulls to be removed before grinding or rolling, but for appearance and some believe for the taste a small amount of ground hulls are added back.

>The World Porridge Making Championship title is awarded to the competitor producing the best traditional porridge, made from oatmeal [pinhead, coarse, medium or fine].

The traditional porridge must be made with untreated oatmeal and not with oat flakes and with only water and salt. The judges will be strict on these rules.

The original Athole brose consisted of oatmeal and whisky. – F. M. McN.

“The yolk of an egg is sometimes beat up with the brose.” – Meg Dods.

Some links below with recalcitrant spacing

Drop Scones: Hearth Cakes for Shrove Tuesday

Peasemeal, An Ingredient Unique to Scotland

Related to the Highlands preference for nettles over kale (beware, bloated website)

Following the thread of nettle soups

Farther afield:

Big Brother/Blogger Is Watching

Yesterday’s post about dog sled designs and failures was the most viewed on this blog and led to good feedback and discussion. If you like to know the stats as a reflection of global interest for mushing and this particular subject, as of this moment… (Philippines, Brazil?!)


Earl Norris and Martin Buser “chewing the fat”

I am also adding to the original post because of interaction with a sled builder about the practical aspects of preventing broken runners.

FWIW here photos of Easy Rider motorcycles and sled



Total 179 visitors, 345 views

For yesterday

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Today/11:30 CST

Norway 39
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Russia 16
Finland 8
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Switzerland 5
Spain 3
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Netherlands 1
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France 1
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Australia 1
United Kingdom 1
Philippines 1

More Sled Building Boo-Boos

Or, Robert McNamara, The Fog Of War, proportionality and “The One Horse Shay”

Sled break H

It’s the multimedia world; liven things up:

A fictional Deacon crafted this wonderful one-hoss shay in such a logical way that it could not break down. The shay was constructed from the very best of materials so that each part was as strong as every other part. In Holmes’ humorous, yet “logical”, twist, the shay endures for a hundred years then it “went to pieces all at once, and nothing first, — just as bubbles do when they burst.”

“Proportionality” is a more general expression of the principle which applied to airframe construction is referred to as “one horse shay.” An aspect of cost/benefit and risk management. In airframe structural design usually, for most elements, fatigue life (of aluminum components) is the overriding factor. Designing a structural element stronger and more durable than the other components in relation to stress and fatigue failures will add unnecessary weight which will cost thousands of dollars per pound in extra fuel for the life of the airplane .

In daily life we are doing a similar calculation weighing what we call priorities to allocate our money, time, attention, effort and energy…

Robert McNamara, one of the “Best and Brightest” JFK raised to leadership in the US government as Secretary of Defense, with 20/20 hindsight gives as an example of his own disproportionality, the Gulf of Tonkin incident that precipitated greater commitment to war with North Vietnam. Even if the alleged NVA attacks on a US destroyer occurred (they did not), no US sailors were injured, no damage to the vessel, only imaginary torpedoes thought to have been heard on sonar!

The slippery slope of disproportionality in structural engineering: in most (“statically determinate”) structures  excess weight, stiffness and strength in one element will shift stresses to another part which then may require further increasing the strength and weight there…

When I was working at Boeing, 747 engineering was divided into Project and Stress departments. The Project engineers designed the plane specifying structure geometry, parts and dimensions, the Stress engineers analyzed the total structure to get stresses in each part/element turning these results back to Project engineers who modified the dimensions/weights according to the proportionality principles, stress in proportion to strength and acceptable fatigue life. Several iterations of this loop converged to the final design.


Sled break B2

Above is an example of incorrect fastener type and location that raises the stress  and caused failure via crack propagation. Aluminum sled components, and probably with most other materials too, breaking without any “plastic” (meaning residual) deformation is a fairly clear indication of an avoidable design and/or construction error. To put a positive spin on a bad situation, if there is no evidence of deformed material, no bend or twist that was not in the original part, only a fracture/break, then there is room for improvement to correct the error that led to the failure.

In Russia 20 years ago I talked to an aerospace factory manager at a time when they were being encouraged to develop markets for their products outside Russia. He could sell me Ti titanium runners bent to my specs with holes in the web for fasteners at the same price as Matrax. Sounds good? NOT. The export tax on Ti would have doubled or tripled that, then import duty would add more in USA. If an aluminum runner lasts ten years at least unless a design or construction error and Ti saves no weight and has no other performance benefit except resistance to particular damage that can be avoided, and costs 3-5 times Al, why waste money? That’s another application of the One Hoss Shay/Proportionality principle.

About putting a buffer piece between the stanchion bracket and the alu runner: The benefit depends on the stiffness/modulus of elasticity of the buffer material. For the front stanchion bracket (such as the first photo where the bracket was clamped on to curved section of runner) a material like stiff conveyor belting, say 1/4″ will compress and conform to the radius of the alu runner on the bottom and the straight bracket on top but will not carry/distribute any of the stress out beyond the edge of the bracket. This type of buffer does not need to be longer than the bracket. In contrast a 1/8″ UHMW pad between the bracket and runner is not going to conform/squeeze much because so thin and is not going to carry the stress very far past the bracket edge but no harm in making it 1/2 longer. I would guess (no exact calculation) considering the extremes, 1/4″ UHMW min 1/2″ longer on both ends would be a good compromise.

For the rear stanchion position I think preventing the break by eliminating stress raisers that act like notches to initiate crack failure is more important than having a thick piece of plastic to hold the broken runner together if it occurs. (Sometimes the function is also to raise the foot boards higher to prevent dragging and snagging.) As Einstein said, a smart man solves the problem, a wise man avoids it. The bracket and the runner are both straight (not curved) there. However that is the most highly stressed-in-bending location on most dog sleds, high centered and/or bridging on bumps in the trail, depending how much load is in the basket and how heavy the musher.

The idea is to move highest stress/strength ratio location on the runner back away as much as possible (even 1/4 inch will help) from the end of the stanchion bracket which is a discontinuity/stress raiser. A more elastic buffer piece/layer or pad can reduce the stress raiser effect at the end of a stiff bracket on top of the runner. The various “Easy Rider” sled designs with the rear stanchion farther forward move the position of that load away from the location of the highest bending load, the fulcrum of driver on one end and cargo on the other.

In high strength materials like this aircraft alu alloy cracks typically start at a stress raiser or notch or small surface discontinuity. And more often on the tension side in bending. High centered, the tension side is the top, bridging, the tension side is the bottom.Crack initiation and failure on the compression side of a “beam” is unusual but can happen. Compression failure starts with a crack at 45 degree angle from the surface. Bingo! Look at the top photo, compare to the next one below where the crack begins on one side at about 45 degree angle.

Here is an old style sled from 100 years ago, Scotty Allan’s racing sled.

Sled Scotty

Pins and bolts were avoided in this era. The rawhide lashing was typically attached through holes in the web similar to how holes in the web of an I beam are located to avoid stress raisers. The front stanchion is attached by lashing to the rear stanchion to form a solid truss (triangle) without any holes required at the junction.

Notice that the short stanchions are attached to the runners with lashing only on the back side. In my opinion that would make the sled more rigid with forward pressure on the driving bow but flexible when pulling back so that the front of the sled will respond to steering.

In the earlier posts you will find more discussion of fatigue, stress raisers, notch and crack propagation…

It’s Not Rocket Science, It’s Nuclear Physics


Above photo acorus calamus aka rat root, calamus root, sweet flag, and in Russia historically sometimes called Mongol Poison, now air swamp Аир Болотный. In many traditions around the world rat root is called for in respiratory, pulmonary and digestive illness of all kinds and as a kind of catalyst for other herbs…

Says he’s got a bad cough
Wants to get it paid off
Look out kid
It’s somethin’ you did
God knows when
But you’re doing it again

You don’t need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows

Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, Bob Dylan gospel. Elementary observation and deduction skills have been around for thousands of years, before modern chemistry and nutrition created an often obscure, obstructive or counterproductive layer of trying to understand causes, mechanisms and constituents on the molecular level, instead of the traditional treatment of symptoms with time-tested “methods and substances” (so the language of the World Anti-Doping Agency would characterize it.)

“The Russian folk medicine philosophy has always held that the vast majority of people died by suicide—by food. The fact that this suicide was unintentional and caused by ignorance does not change the basic premise: barbaric nutrition kills people as surely as any slow-acting lethal poison.” (Kourennoff, in Russian Folk Medicine, 1970) Sounds like an accurate indictment of modern Western nutrition and medicine to me!

Translation of a classic Russian cookbook by Elena Molokhovets/Molochovec (“Romanization” of Cyrillic words is  highly variable) from the mid to late 1800s when processed food was the result of using basic materials and foods, and hours of preparation in the kitchen, and prior to that in the field and ice house and garden and root cellar… fascinating details for using hay and straw to prepare and flavor foods, a piece of oak bark as spice, a silver spoon or 20 kopek coin left in the bottle of fresh milk for four days in a warm place to produce a sweeter starter culture for sour cream and yogurt-(better not try this with pasteurized homogenized Frankendairy milk), “rectify” spoiled butter with birch charcoal or washing followed by addition of carrot juice, a few examples.

Since one third of the Orthodox calender are fast days with no meat, dairy or eggs allowed (fish was) the traditional Russian diet is a good resource for vegetarian recipes.

This is the only substantial translation into English, partial at best, a much shorter translation 23 pages was done in Sitka, AK, 1936. I would love to see a copy of that! Better still to be able to read Part III, the third section of the original book but not included in the translation, about agriculture, hygiene, medicine, care and feeding of domestic birds and animals and curing their diseases, 3000 domestic remedies for adult and childhood illnesses.
Hunting for part III but found this online version of I and II below… Apparently the cookbook is not rocket science, it’s nuclear physics! It is not surprising however that Part/Chapter/Volume III was not as popular and apparently not reprinted in the 20th century since that is the time period when in medicine and many other disciplines a general enthusiasm for science, new technology, reductionist and mechanistic approaches and general notions of “progress”  began to displace traditions and empirical or eclectic curricula whereas cooking remained more exclusively the domain of popular tradition and culture.

The parent site is:

Another perspective on traditional Russian diet:    Recently I watched the Norwegian TV series titled in English The Heavy Water War. In opening scenes Werner Heisenberg receives the Nobel Prize and encouragement from Niels Bohr. It comes to mind that a corresponding general paradigm of necessary and sufficient information not as specific as Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle applies to other sciences including nutrition and diet.

Here is a better compilation of Molokhovets book:

Was criticized by the Soviets and to the present day as bourgeois and decadent. While there are recipes involving intricate elaborate preparation of foods, frivolous not doubt to many, the overall achievement starting in all cases from basic fresh produce and materials and methods is inspiring to those who can appreciate this. Illustrating for example the wide range of recipes and methods applied in her works, this section about coffee and similar roast grain drinks, chicory, sunflower seed, rye malt, beetroot (google translation below):

2432 . Coffee.

For a pound of coffee is taken 1 / 4 pound chicory. Coffee roasting is not necessary in a frying pan, and in the closed hearth, constantly shaking it. When he gets a dark chestnut color and is covered with moisture, then it is ready. Beware overcook it. To give the best flavor, you have to roast coffee at 200-250 °, with the addition of a tablespoon of unsalted butter for every pound of coffee. And also, before the end of roasting, sprinkle with finely powdered hot corn sugar, taking it to 1 lot, ie 1 piece for 1 / 2 pounds of coffee. Sugar burns and forms a shell around the seed, it is well protected against the loss of aromatic substances. Best coffee grind as needed, gradually, and immediately before use.

It is better to beat than the grind, the smaller, the better.

Keep in tins or glass jars, hermetically sealed.

Each cup is taken full teaspoon of the mixture of coffee with chicory, pour in the coffee pot, pour a cup of boiling water smerennym, put on a plate; When boiling, put aside, immediately pour a spoonful of cold water when the coffee settles, again put on a plate. When boiling, put aside, pour a spoonful of cold water to a boil again, put aside, to settle and serve.

From 1 pound of coffee and 1 / 4 pound chicory leaves 40 cups of coffee; well put every once in a cafetiere of coffee on a small piece of the figs in the tiles.Feeding coffee, put in a cup on a spoon full of downed cream. Find that if put in the coffee Kroshechka soda (with 1 / 8 spoons), and it is stronger and tastier.

Or cook in clay, Anting on both sides of the coffee pot at the fire in the stove, pouring no water and coffee with water, ie, boiled-grounds of the remaining coffee, putting it in a piece of fish glue. Make coffee, to settle, pour carefully into another pot of coffee, heat and serve. Cream for coffee to brew in small pots with a lid that has a thick foam.

2433 . Coffee with sunflower seeds.

Instead chicory much tastier to put on a pound or half a pound of coffee powder pound of roasted sunflower seeds.

2434 . Rye coffee.

Select a clean large rye, sift it thoroughly, wash, dry, roast in a roasting pan or skillet, coffee, often disturbing, so as not to overheat and do not overcook, then grind and cook as usual coffee, but only to take this powder to a cup of coffee not one, but 2 or 3 teaspoonfuls, pour them in flannel bag, brew with boiling water, boil thoroughly, to settle, to drink it with milk or cream. Rye this also prepared as follows: the selected sifted rye large wet 24 hours in cold water, and then cooked until the burst starts, and then throws it to the screen. When the water flow down, scatter rye on canvas in a warm room or in the summer in the sun to dry out soon, then roast in a roasting pan a little at a time, so as not to overcook, and from the brazier immediately pour into a large bowl, cover with a napkin, etc.

2435 .Kofe from acorns.

Collect quite mature acorns prodlinnovatogo varieties that better round; clean them from the green hull knife, cut in half lengthwise and each half is then divided into two parts. That same evening, pour boiling water over them. The next morning the water drained and dried in the spirit of the lung in a furnace. Keep them in bags, hanging dry, then roast them like coffee that was neither too bright, not too overcooked again. Since acorns are not so soon par fried, so you should try, crush them. Cool, grind and brew like an ordinary coffee.

2436 . Mixed coffee.

Izzharennoy 1 pound and grind rye, 1 pound and grind izzharennoy beet, 1 pound izzharennyh and milled acorns and 5 pounds of ordinary ground coffee.

2437 . Coffee beans from simple.

From simple bean is prepared it is also very healthy and delicious coffee, which helps with water. It is necessary to choose the smallest variety, boil in water for ten minutes, and when the water cools, pour it. Grains again to wash, dry in the oven and then a light roast, coffee. Since they are very strong, then, so as not to spoil Melenki better protoloch them first in a mortar. Cook like an ordinary coffee, which can be added to taste.

2438 . Coffee from beets.

Wash the beets well, clean up the knife again to wash, cut into small quadrangular pieces, dried in the oven. Fry then as chicory, and immediately hot grind;bandaged to keep in the bank than the longer, so it is tastier.

2439 . The coffee is extremely nutritious rye flour.

Take a bottle of fresh of fresh milk, 3 fresh eggs and 3 pounds of rye flour, knead the dough, as the noodles, roll out very thinly, add up to an iron sheet, bake, dry, broken into small pieces, yet dry and brown, but to not burnt, pound and grind in Melenki. At 6 cups of coffee-ground rye Pour 1 cup of pure izzharennogo and ground coffee; brewing coffee, drink instead of tea in the morning, afternoon and evening with milk or cream.

Google translation and the original for a recipe I tried:

1670 . Varenets silver leaven.

For one bottle of milk per drop a silver coin or a teaspoon of silver spoon, put in a warm place for 4 days. Then take the liquid cream and 3 bottles of putting nearly 1 / 2 cup of the leaven of silver. Put the cream in a warm oven and as often as possible in the way. After four hours varenets must be prepared. Put it in another bowl without serum, put on ice. Serve with sugar and pounded finely sifted rye crackers.

Silver leaven can be stored on ice for two weeks.

1670. Варенец с серебряной закваской.

На одну бутылку молока опустить одну серебряную монету или чайную серебряную ложечку, поставить в теплое место на 4 дня. Потом взять жидких сливок и на 3 бутылки их положить почти 1/2 стакана этой серебряной закваски. Поставить сливки в теплую печь и как можно чаще мешать. Через четыре часа варенец должен быть готов. Переложить его в другую посуду без сыворотки, поставить на лед. Подавать с сахаром и мелко истолченными просеянными ржаными сухарями.

Серебряную закваску можно сохранять на льду недели две.



Don’t Sweat The Atkins Flu

Despite an abundant anecdotal and scientific history, many modern-day physicians—often underschooled in nutrition and over-reliant on pharmacotherapy—have written off KDs as being unsustainable and unsafe, thanks in large part to the demonization of dietary fat. Now, however, after a significant increase in research on KDs and a shift in opinion regarding dietary fat, ketogenic diets are experiencing a comeback.

“The low-carbohydrate way of eating in general is probably the safest thing you can do to improve your diet,” he continued. “It is not really a joke to say that we know that low-carbohydrate diets are safe because the medical establishment has spent 40 years trying to find something wrong with them, and they never come up with anything. Of course, most of the ‘concerns’ are just mindless fear of doing something different, but there have been serious tests of potential risks, particularly in cardiovascular disease. In fact, [KDs] usually prove to be beneficial—they lower triglycerides dramatically and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the so-called good cholesterol. The low-fat message never had a scientific foundation and is finally being recognized as a mistake.”

Nutritional ketosis is a normal, strictly benign, and tightly regulated physiological process. Yet, medical practitioners often confuse it with ketoacidosis, a pathological condition seen in some insulin-dependent diabetics (type 1, or T1D) when they are under stress and/or have failed to administer enough insulin. This confusion has led to the mistaken idea that KDs and nutritional ketosis are inherently dangerous.

Fats from sources such as butter, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil make up the remainder of the KD macronutrient equation (usually at between 70–85% of daily calories).

“Given that this diet is low in carbs and moderate in protein, the majority of calories need to come from fat,” he says, with a limited amount of those rich in polyunsaturated fat (e.g., corn, soybean, safflower, cottonseed, and peanut oils). “You don’t need to worry about increasing saturated fat intake. We have repeatedly shown that on a ketogenic diet, blood levels of saturated fat actually decrease as the fat-adapted body prefers to burn them as fuel,” Volek says.

In the fat-adapted body, the kidneys tend to discard more water and salt, which can result in reduced plasma volume, fainting, and a general “washed-out” feeling (sometimes called the “Atkins flu”). “An easy solution,” Volek says, “is to take an extra 1–2 g of sodium/day as broth, bouillon, or soup. And in particular, on days you exercise, be sure to take 1 gram of sodium to prime your circulation 30 minutes before your workout.”

 Cancer”The Warburg effect is the single most common malady expressed in all cancers,” noted Thomas N. Seyfried, a professor of biology at Boston College and author of Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: On the Origin, Management, and Prevention of Cancer.

“The Warburg effect” refers to Otto Warburg, the German Nobel laureate and physician who hypothesized that cancer arises largely from impaired energy metabolism (mitochondrial dysfunction), which then produces genetic instability.

“The mitochondrial defects force cancer cells to use fermentation as a major source of energy production for growth and survival,” Seyfried wrote in an email. “Consequently, the restriction of fermentable fuels (primarily glucose and glutamine) will target cancer cell growth and survival.”

The beginning of the Letter on Corpulence

Of all the parasites that affect humanity I do not know of, nor can I imagine, any more distressing than that of Obesity, and, having emerged from a very long probation in this affliction, I am desirous of circulating my humble knowledge and experience for the benefit of other sufferers, with an earnest hope that it may lead to the same comfort and happiness I now feel under the extraordinary change, which might almost be termed miraculous had it not been accomplished by the most simple common-sense means.

—William Banting, 1863, who lost 50 pounds on a low-carbohydrate diet.

It was well known certainly with livestock and poultry before the analytic and chemical understanding of protein, carbohydrate and fat that, for example, a diet with too much corn vs. legumes or grains like oats (with what we know now to be more protein) could cause a fatal accumulation of fat in animals.