El’s Rabbit Trails: That Was Then…

 

This is now, and is tangentially related to two books I previously reviewed. The first is The Whole 30. The second is It Starts With Food.

As it happens, I am in the last five days of a Whole 30 cycle. The energy level boost, decrease in waistline (inch and a half) and better sleep are the things that keep me doing this plan over and over. Even when I end a 30 day cycle, I stick with the eating plan for three-fourths of the time. The summer -which we dub “birthday season in our house- was a notable exception and by September I was feeling all the ill effects of birthday cake, road eating, and lack of sleep.

Fall was a welcome opportunity to start a new cycle of Whole 30, which includes a complete prohibition on not just bread, but grains in general. Yesterday when I ran across this “epic Christian meme”, I decided it might be worth exploring how much we should take Jesus’ words to mean that Wonder Bread is a perfectly acceptable food product compared to broccoli or kale:

bread-meme

Now, on the one hand, it is kind of funny (“Bread is life”?) and I can take a joke. I would have taken it as a simple joke -my kids did- except that I heard a local nutritionist say something quite similar on our local Christian radio station. So that tells me that there is a *there* there, and I want to take a minute to look at it. I’m going to keep my remarks short and sweet because I’d really rather hear from you guys on the subject.

I would think that it is generally recognized by anyone with any nutritional knowledge at all that the food we eat today is in many ways markedly different from the foods that were eaten in Jesus’ day. I’m not only referring to bread, but also meat and vegetables. After all, there were no such entities as Tyson or Monsanto in Bible days. No monopolies controlling the food supply, no round up ready seeds, no bread loaded with sugar in plastic bags on shelves. In other words, the bread we eat isn’t the same bread of Jesus’ day and those who write up such memes probably wouldn’t want to eat such bread if it were the same.

If the creator of the meme is like me, willing to bake his or her own bread to mitigate *some* of the effects of commercial farming and everything that goes along with it, then I can give them something of a pass. That doesn’t change the issues with commercially farmed wheat, but you can at least use good oils and no sugar, making the bread significantly more healthy that Wonder. Most of us aren’t in a position to provide our 100% of our families’ food from optimal sources, but we can make every attempt possible to eat food as close as possible to the way God made it, and whether you agree or disagree with the meme,  we all know that means more kale and broccoli, less rolls and burger buns.

In the end, I’m of the mind that we should just shut our traps and let people eat whatever the heck they want while we eat whatever the heck we want. I’ve cut down on my bread intake significantly, to one serving a week when I’m not abstaining completely. It doesn’t bother me that my husband likes warm bagels slathered with peanut butter. Even if it did I know full well that I’d better keep it to myself, but it really doesn’t.

My sister-in-law got back down to her ideal weight after 4 kids by going vegan. There is NO WAY short of a terminal diagnosis with veganism as the antidote, that I am giving up my burgers, but I’m happy she found what works for her.The world would be a much better place if we would be our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper when it really matters and learned to stop meddling.

So…you enjoy your pancakes, I’ll enjoy my home fries with caramelized onions, and we can all just sing kumbaya unless there is something one of us really needs to confront the other about.

/end rant.

 

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24 thoughts on “El’s Rabbit Trails: That Was Then…

  1. You are funny, thanks for the laugh.

    I’m always looking for new ways to become further entrenched in the slow food movement. Honestly though, it IS a lot of work. It was easier to eat nutritionally better when we didn’t have the options and information. Not to sound like an uneducated red-neck lol; but, every time some new study comes out, it begs for looking into. And quite frankly, I’m tired of fact checking. So, I eat it and if I feel good, I keep it. If not, I don’t eat it anymore.

    Everybody’s got their own convincing information of what works. I agree with you and will join you in “kumbaya!”

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  2. Thing is…it’s not even as big a deal as people make it. I figured out a few years ago that for me the difference between bread and no bread is a solid 20 pounds. For me. I used to just deal with and eat the stinkin’ bread. But it is intolerable now that working out isn’t mitigating the way it used to. There is that vanity again, LOL.

    Now that I am a little older it has proven other benefits too. But I am not insisting that anyone join me, you know?

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  3. I hadn’t seen that meme until today on FB. Y’all don’t want to hear about me not eating bread? Tots fine. (I can actually manage traditionally fermented sourdough bread from a certain bakery – things that make you go, hm….)

    I will say being primal made preparing for passover, the years I was doing that, ridiculously easy. No leaven to remove. (Everyone go think about that).

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  4. Y’all don’t want to hear about me not eating bread? Tots fine.

    ‘Tis true that some people can get really obsessed with their preferred eating plan. In my experience, vegans, paleo, and gluten free people tend to be the worst of the lot. Vegans…whoa. They have a political agenda as well.

    Thankfully my SIL just wanted to be skinny so she’s cool about her veganism. My brother, like my husband is gonna eat whatever he wants (which is lots of meat) so…

    One of the things I learned a long time ago is to just do it and not* talk about it so much, unless people ask what I’m doing, and they almost always do. Then they reject it out of hand, LOL.

    *Not talking about it much IRL doesn’t mean I can’t write about it here.

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  5. I can actually manage traditionally fermented sourdough bread from a certain bakery – things that make you go, hm….

    One thing I learned a few years back (courtesy of the excellent book Nourishing Traditions) is that traditionally fermented grains and dairy are much easier on the digestive system. I can’t remember all the ins outs and whys but I still have the book so I might pull it out.

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  6. One thing worth noting is that, as a poor man preaching to poor men, the bread Jesus broke wasn’t usually wheat at all–it was barley. I tried baking with it once, and due to the lack of gluten, it doesn’t really rise or brown, and the overall effect is like a dense biscuit with lots of fiber. Was not enough to wean me away from wheaten breads, to put it mildly.

    Point well taken, though, that Wonder differs quite a bit from even wheat breads of the time–no fiber, tons of sugar, a hefty dose of fat, and we eat it with a ton of meat on it. Gosh, why is the overall effect like the doctor sewed up the end of our alimentary canals?

    (one note, though; there is no genetically modified wheat on the market now….they’ve increased the starch and protein vs. bran by hybridization, but all the proteins and fats and such now are pretty much the same as those in Noah’s time…)

    This really hits home for me, as I learned that a friend from church was having significant issues with her gut after gallbladder surgery….I so want to tell her “see a dietician and tell her what you’re eating”. I suspect that she’s having trouble because she and her husband are on the “poorer” end of things and hence are getting a lot more food with tons of sugar, fat, and starch as “fillers.” But there is a big gap between that and looking in their fridge and cupboards, and an even bigger gap between that and persuading them to change their shopping habits.

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  7. OK, I can’t speak for dairy, but regarding the digestibility of sourdoughs vs. that of regular breads, slow rise by wild yeast tends to create a more acid environment from the lactobacilli (like lactobacillus sanfranciscii that gives you San Francisco sourness), and the slow rise also allows enzymes to break down starch into sugars the yeast can eat. Real sourdoughs also tend to be “lean” breads without much added fat.

    In contrast, mass produced breads typically add about 10% sugar and 10% fat (in calories) to the mix to make it rise fast and be “soft”. So when you get rid of fat and sugar and add a bit of acid and fiber, you do indeed get something that will move through the bowel more readily.

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  8. The bread I’m getting is loooovely and soft, much softer than the more acid-flavored “sourdough” loaves. I still shouldn’t eat it daily, but it’s okay more often than regular wheat.

    I’m developing dark suspicions about the advisability of at least *trying* an ancestral diet, instead of assuming that one-size-fits-all when it comes to noms. When I ditched primal and started eating oats again, my body shouted hurrah. All the things eaten in the areas that my g’g’g’grandparents lived 500 years ago agree with me. It’s very annoying.

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  9. No argument here Hearth. I know full well for instance that there are some ethnic groups do fine with dairy even though so-called “primal” eating frowns heavily on dairy. Its happens that my ancestry doesn’t do great with dairy, but I believe yours does, right?

    The overall idea of whole minimally processed foods with low sugar intake is generally a good idea and everyone can and should fill in their own details beyond that.

    FWIW Whole 30 is a 30 day reset deal after which you figure out for yourself what stays out and what you let back in.

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  10. Yup, Barley. Grows well in dry areas and yields a bit more calories than wheat. So if your need was calories–and that was the need in that area–you ate barley. That same need for calories may explain why the Scriptures don’t talk much about beer. Maybe.

    Agreed with Hearthie about eating like our ancestors, and thankfully, it doesn’t mean I need to go all black pudding, lutefisk, and haggis. Really, most of our ancestors, apart from hunter-gatherer societies, ate about the same thing; hefty dose of grains or potatoes along with legumes supplemented by whatever animal proteins they could find and whatever fruits and vegetables they could find. We simply need to modify that slightly to account for our lives being relatively sedentary in comparison with our ancestors, I guess.

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  11. I looked it up … rye and oats and a bit of barley and a bit of wheat + cooked or fermented root vegetables/cabbage + lots of oily fish (yuck) + meat + piles and drifts of dairy products (which doesn’t mean liquid milk, does mean cheese in every form, and butter).

    I like all of that, with the exception of oily fish (but I’m willing to take fish pills), and it likes me back. Some things, healthy for others (raw foods for ex) disagree with me.

    We place value statements on things that are very individual, which is silly. With the food infrastructure that we have, we have the opportunity to develop our own diets to our own needs. Why get butt-hurt about what someone else eats that *works for them*?

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  12. Gracious hostess, look closely. All of those diet plans, except for the Asian one, are variants that lie somewhere between the Clinton era food pyramid and the Mayo Clinic pyramid. The Asian one is close to the USDA Clinton era one, all the rest are variants of Mayo.

    Which is a way of saying that I’m pretty much on the African food pyramid, so maybe Eden was in fact in the Olduvai Gorge or something. :^)

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  13. That’s exactly what the Mayo plan does–Ok, you’ve got fruit with the vegetables, but all in all, the swap is made of lower caloric density foods for higher caloric density foods.

    And yes, I would tend to concur with the opinion that the USDA food pyramid did indeed do a lot to make a lot of people fatter–that, along with the habit of substituting fat, sugar, starch, and salt for flavor, and taking all the fiber and other goodness out of our foods and making our foods even more calorie-dense.

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  14. One other note; having attended a mostly Chinese church in Torrance for two summers (they had services in English), I got to know a fair number of the older parishioners fairly well, to the point where it was not weird at all to call many of them “auntie” or “uncle”. What I learned was that very often, they were having the same kind of health problems as their caucasian neighbors–heart disease and diabetes. They didn’t carry quite the same weight, but all in all, I’d guess a lot of them wished they’d eaten a little bit more vegetables and a little less rice. So I’m not even totally convinced that the USDA pyramid is suitable for those of Asian descent.

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  15. Bike Bubba: “(one note, though; there is no genetically modified wheat on the market now….they’ve increased the starch and protein vs. bran by hybridization, but all the proteins and fats and such now are pretty much the same as those in Noah’s time…)”

    Then how do you explain Round-Up ready wheat? If it does escape the GMO label, it is because genes haven’t been added or deleted and “natural breeding methods” include applying radiation and toxic chemical compounds to the seeds. This probably does change the genetic make-up of the plant.

    Most of the wheat grown in the US is a strain of dwarf wheat that originated in Japan and then was further manipulated to produce a greater yield-per-acre. It has larger grains and shorter, thicker stalks that won’t blow over in the wind.

    So no, it is nowhere near the same plant that was grown in the middle east in Noah’s time. It’s debatable that it’s really even wheat anymore – if you cross bred a pansy with a daisy, then changed it with chemicals and radiation and more selective breeding over 30 years, is what you’d end up with a either a daisy or a pansy, or something else?

    This was mentioned in a book called “The Church and Farming” in 1953 by Rev. Denis Fahey, and more recently by Dr William Davis in his “Wheat Belly” books (specifically in the first “Wheat Belly Cookbook”).

    Whether you know it or not, you are spouting propaganda.

    Folks, is he foolish, or malicious?

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  16. I meant to mention too that no one cared about possible consequences, only profits. And now over the last 20-30 years we have seen an explosion in celiac disease and wheat and gluten intolerance. This is the result of this experiment with food. It is actually the increase in the protein in wheat called gliadin that causes most of this, so it isn’t necessarily specifically gluten, though that has become the catch-all term.

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  17. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_wheat

    Monsanto created Roundup ready wheat, but it is not currently grown. Again, all the advances to give us dwarf wheat are by hybridization, mixing of existing cultivars–and if you’ve read any works on intelligent design (like Michael Behe’s “Darwin’s Black Box”), you will see how unlikely it is for new proteins to come into the genome of wheat.

    In other words, every protein, fat, and carbohydrate found in today’s wheat would have been known in the time of Noah.

    So why are we getting more allergies today? Note first of all that ALL allergies are skyrocketing, including my beloved ragweed allergy. I’m pretty sure Monsanto hasn’t developed Roundup Ready Ragweed! There are seriously speaking a lot of theories out there, and a lot of them center around the idea that allergic reactions are something of an autoimmune disorder–one of my favorite theories is that we have more allergies simply because kids don’t eat enough dirt anymore.

    A belated thank you to my neighbor for shoving my face into the sand in the sandbox! Sorry for the whupping your dad gave you when I told my dad. :^)

    There is also the fact that kids today are not, by and large, dying from being kicked by a horse, cholera, or other contagious diseases. Plus, we seem to have something of a higher standard for health today, and we’re diagnosing things more often.

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