Despite being punched down by the “wheat belly” gluten-free movement, bread is once again on the rise. Why is bread making a comeback? Maybe it’s because gluten (the protein found in wheat responsible for giving bread it’s elasticity) wasn’t the evil culprit some claimed it to be. With the exception of people who have Celiac Disease or actual allergies to wheat, gluten hasn’t shown harmful effects on humans in any solid research trials.
Bread has been “the staff of life” for thousands of years and wheat is the most commonly eaten substance in the world. Wheat varietals have evolved with plant breeding and natural selection. They’ve been tolerated well.
Michael Pollan, in his book Cooked – A Natural History of Transformation (Penguin, 2013) delves deeply into the bread box to conclude that perhaps it’s not the wheat that’s the problem; perhaps it is all the additives in commercially prepared bread combined with a lack of time spent making that same bread.
Time is important in bread making. Time allows the yeasts and bacteria in our environment to do their thing which turns out to be really important for the health of humans. What do they do? They combine with bread’s flour and water and if given the time, they will “eat” the sugars in the flour, produce the gas that causes dough to rise and most importantly for people that find wheat hard to digest; they partially digest the proteins (like gluten) in flour for us.
I hope you’ll watch the 2015 CBC Fifth Estate video above that probed into the “war on wheat” and that you’ll tune into my CBC Alberta at Noon show tomorrow, Friday, May 27 between noon and 1230 p.m. on 99.1 FM when I’ll talk more about how to get rolling in the dough – with sourdough and a few easier bread recipes.