Given the increased focus on mass farming practices, the following piece ought to strike a creepy note. In—of all places—the Dental Digest, the official organ of the Dental Protective Association of the United States, an author records in 1899 that some “genius” has conceived of a way to make hens lay more eggs: feeding them newspaper.
[A] genius…has discovered that printed matter reconverted into pulp by soaking in some milk and fed to some laying hens increases greatly hen fruit. The brain matter contained in the printed matter, the product of brain work, is so closely allied in composition to the contents of the egg-shell, that it serves as nutritive matter which has a special affinity for the cerebral substance. The editor puts brain into his paper, which the hen consumes as food, and transforms into egg matter; the editor eats the eggs and puts more brain matter into his paper; and so the turning wheel keeps on its course, and the hen and the editor fill the world with intelligence. The fact affords much hope for our future offspring. Another good result will be the marked increased sweetness in the temper and disposition of teachers in the public schools. No more waste printed matter that contains brains should be wasted.
Alas, compared to the things we feed chickens today (arsenic?), milky newspaper pulp seems downright benign.
“Another Perpetual Motion.” Dental Digest 5 (Jan.-Dec.). Chicago: J.N. Crouse, 1899. Google Book Search. Web.