Our Daily Bread: From Grain To Loaf…Part One

Kernels of wheat on the stalk

Bread.  It’s been called the “staff of life”, the basis of civilization, and the primary goal of agriculture.   But that’s just lip service.  In our american culture we pay homage to bread with words that claim to remember, a false fantasy of some time some place of simplicity, wholeness and the smell of bread baking in the oven.

Cause that’s what the TV commercial taught us.

However, in reality, an average loaf of bread from the average grocery store tastes like shi…ngles, roofing shingles….or maybe  ..cardboard….with a hint of plastic wrap, and a bit of white glue thrown in for good measure.  And, you know what?  That would be just fine, I could allow for that if the bread itself was actually nutritious…but it’s NOT.  We forgot how to make a nutritious loaf of bread long, long ago.

A little known fact about bread, about wheat, a kernel of wheat is a SEED.  This is SO important!  Most people just see the finished loaf of bread, a few others may see the flour that went into the bread and some may have even baked it themselves…although that brand of people is becoming rare, like an endangered species.  But how many do you know of that begin with the seed, the grain itself?

Hard Red Spring Wheat...perfect for bread baking

Another little known fact, SEEDS are the baby form of a plant.  The whole goal and purpose in life for a seed is to find it’s ideal growing conditions…warm temperatures, lots of water along a beach with a pina colada in hand….no wait, that’s MY ideal growing conditions! 😉

But seriously, a seed’s sole purpose is to sprout and grow into a plant and in order to do this the seed has certain protective mechanisms, namely certain enzymes whose function is to protect the seed…the main one is called “phytic acid”.  In the wild, the seed would have matured on the stalk and then be eaten, plant and all, by some type of herbivorous creature with some chewing involved, but usually swallowed whole, especially in the case of birds.  And the phytic acid, which is the seed’s protective barrier, would neutralize the digestive enzymes so that the seed couldn’t be digested in hopes that when it came out the “tail end” later on it would be resting in a good place to sprout, with it’s own special “compost” encasing it.   Each and every creature, especially birds, spreads around seeds in this way.

In the case of most herbivorous creatures, those who live solely on plant matter, this isn’t a problem because they usually have at least 3 or 4 stomachs with one stomach, called the “rumen”, acting as a large fermentation vessel.  This process of fermentation neutralizes the “protective mechanism” of the seed, thereby making all the nutrients in the seed fully available for absorption by the body.  But if you’re a human and you aren’t fortunate enough to have your own built in “fermentation vessel” the phytic acid itself can cause problems in the body, weakening the power of the digestive juices and enzymes which leads to a WHOLE host of other problems which occurs when our food isn’t digested properly, most of the diseases of “modern man” find their root here.  Without neutralizing the phytic acid the nutrients remain bound up in the seed for the purpose of feeding the young plant once the seed sprouts…therefore the germination process, soaking the seed in water until it sprouts, also neutralizes the phytic acid.

A mouse baked into a loaf of factory made, store bought, white bread...oh boy, mouse meat sandwiches are my FAVORITE! 😎

So, in order to make a loaf of truly nutritious life sustaining bread the kernel of wheat has to undergo either a fermentation process or a soaking process otherwise, in the long run, because of the phytic acid, the bread may actually cause more harm than good.  With the advent of The Industrial Revolution this fact was sort of thrown by the wayside in the name of efficiency, time=money, and the worship by rich businessmen of the almighty dollar.  By cutting out this extra step and reducing the time it took to make a loaf of bread a much larger profit could be realized, to Hell with the health of the consumer.  For REAL, they don’t care about you…all they want is your money.

Stay tuned for Part Two where I will show you how I make a loaf of truly nutritious life sustaining bread…starting with grinding my own flour, just like great great grandma did! 😀

5 thoughts on “Our Daily Bread: From Grain To Loaf…Part One

  1. This brought to mind how sore my arm is after I grind a few cups of flour for your mom when it’s time to bake bread. We buy our wheat from the Dutch farmer’s Market in Joppatowne (the old KMART BLDG) and it is most excellent…keep up the good posts!

  2. One of my goals this year is to make all of our bread. I am happy that I have a very nice electric grain mill. I also have a hand grinder but dang its hard to use. You go girl.
    debbieo

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