I grew up with brown bread. Not the fluffy brown type, but the dense sour stuff that can sit on the shelf for 2 weeks and only gets dryer and harder. The traditional European brown bread that was made from sour dough fermented whole grain and spices like caraway and fennel.
The stuff you need to chew on before you swallow.
In 1990 I moved with my family from Munich, Germany to Brisbane, Australia. My father, after being a master pastry chef for 30 years in Germany, built his own wood fired oven in our new Australian back yard and started to make his own brown bread. I wasn’t a fan.
The seeds of the wheat plant were the foundation of sustenance and wealth for our family. If you were to go to one of my fathers 8 stores in Munich and ask for a Gluten Free item, they would have first looked at you with surprise and then utter disgust at even pondering the idea. “You obviously don’t belong here” is the sentiment that would be given to anyone that was seeking something different.
Coming from this family history to the last 15 years of eating gluten free, my life has been paralleled by the wheat plant. Of course, all of us in the Western world are very exposed to its ubiquitous presence with over 215 million hectares of wheat agriculture (a more than US $50 Billion annual market). However, I have been ‘forced’ to ask a lot more questions about its role in my life considering my body’s refusal to have a good time with it.
A side note (which is hilarious to me) is how well this grass has created itself such prime real estate in the world to substantiate its own genome. Did it do the work to cultivate all the new fields and spread itself globally? Or did it use its chewy, delicious seductive powers to have people do that work for its proliferation?
This plant may be smarter than we think.
The agricultural production of starch-rich plants has been the building block of societies, cultures and empires. Starch is the primary energy packet produced by plants from the sun, which, when in abundance, supports the proliferation of the species.
For asian cultures, rice has taken this role. For Central America, corn is the king of starch. For South America and island cultures around the globe, starchy roots such as tapioca, cassava and sweet potato have been their trusty plant staple.
However, none of these starchy plants have been accepted as globally as wheat. It has been the primary starch source for the western world for centuries and not only allowed us to support the huge growth in population to this day, but through international trade has also found its way into almost all cultures and cuisines.
At 8yrs of age, and a new boy in Australia, I did not speak a word of English and desperately wanted to fit into this new point of view and culture. It was a young country that wasn’t founded in hundreds and thousands of years of tradition. Australia was following the foot steps of the new world where massive agriculture and new processing methods, thanks to the hard work of oil, give people food options that demand far less of the consumer.
Chewing, as a side note, also became a lesser requirement of eating.
This is an excerpt of the future ‘Consciousness Diet’ book.