James White explained the moderate positions they held. He embodied this in his report from the Kansas camp meeting:
In reference to the use of tobacco, tea, coffee, flesh meats, also of dress, there is general agreement. But at present she is not prepared to take the extreme position relative to salt, sugar, and milk. If there were no other reasons for moving carefully in reference to these things of so common and abundant use, there is a sufficient one in the fact that the minds of many are not prepared even to receive the facts relative to these things. . . .
It may be well here to state, however, that while she does not regard milk, taken in large quantities as customarily eaten with bread, the best article of food, her mind, as yet, has only been called to the importance of the best and most healthy condition possible of the cow . . . whose milk is used as an article of food. She cannot unite in circulating publications broadcast which take an extreme position on the important question of milk, with her present light upon the subject (ibid.; italics supplied).
Turning particularly to sugar and salt, he set forth her middle-of-the-road stance:
Mrs. White thinks that a change from the simplest kinds of flesh meats to an abundant use of sugar is going from "bad to worse." She would recommend a very sparing use of both sugar and salt. The appetite can, and should, be brought to a very moderate use of both (ibid.).
Then he sounded warnings in another line, that of making abrupt changes:
While tobacco, tea, and coffee may be left at once (one at a time, however, by those who are so unfortunate as to be slaves to all), changes in diet should be made carefully, one at a time. And while she would say this to those who are in danger of making changes too rapidly, she would also say to the tardy, Be sure and not forget to change (ibid.).
James and Ellen had spent most of the summer and fall of 1870 attending camp meetings. They had observed that the cause of health reform had been more or less left to flounder as those who had led out in teaching it looked on helplessly.