Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

Bread GirlThis commonplace plea to the divine could, until fairly recently, be taken literally.

Then we heard rumbles that bread was not good for some people, and for others it could be near lethal.

With growing frequency I ran into folks who said they were allergic to gluten, or gluten sensitive, not to mention those affected with Celiac disease, nowadays a documented condition which only a couple of decades ago had doctors scratching their heads.  Celiac disease is an auto-immune reaction which damages the small intestine leading to serious complications.  For a long time I silently dismissed my friends’ claims as just another food fad while indulging them with gluten-free creations.  Accustomed to catering to vegetarians, vegans, those allergic to nightshade vegetables, the gluten free regimen did not faze me.  Buckwheat, corn, quinoa, and amaranth to name a few, provide ample opportunity for inventive cooking.

Chelsea Clinton’s much publicized gluten free wedding cake was not yet the turning point for me, but rather the declaration by my Ayurvedic doctor that I should avoid wheat products in the evening.  Wait a minute.  “Am I gluten sensitive?”  I asked.  I found a 6-day gluten summit on the web and discovered it is now estimated that one in 130 people are affected with Celiac disease and that 20 million are gluten sensitive – a significant subset of humanity!

It appears that everyone is gluten intolerant to some degree and that the human body is simply not designed to digest it.  How could this have developed?  Growing up I never heard of such things.  Something must have happened to bread.  Wheat is a relative newcomer on the food chain.  It appeared in pre-biblical times when our ancestors moved from being hunters and gatherers to settle into a sedentary life to start growing things.  Then they figured out bread making – we all know about the Biblical loaves.

Today’s wheat has evolved into something which, through hybridization and processing, has little in common with the grain of our ancestors.  Remember Wonder Bread, the one that promised to make you grow 12 ways and a slice of which, when run under a faucet would dissolve almost instantly?  Gluten, I read, has no nutritional value.  Genetic manipulation and processing have rendered gluten products the nemesis of many a diet.

It would be easy to assume that because something is gluten free it is magically good for you.  Unfortunately we need to worry about salt, lactose, fructose – all natural, mind you.  Don’t forget the thousands of chemicals.

It’s not much of a stretch before you stumble into the now much in vogue Paleo or caveman diet.  Never mind any grain and forget about carbs.  Eat meat, fish, veggies, fruit and nuts to get more energy, thinner thighs and no belly. Leaving you to ponder how their claims square with Cro Magnon’s longevity of 25-30 years.

I am off to Trader Joe’s for some hunting and gathering of some of the myriad everything-free products now being offered.

About Danielle Williams

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