Fifty Shades of Grain: The Naked Truth About Eating Bread and Feeling Great
By Caroline Angel
In the modern era, many people have a love-hate relationship with bread. Gluten sensitivity, adulterated ingredients, the use of glyphosate as a wheat dessicant—these are just some of the factors that have contributed to a cautious approach to bread. However, as Caroline Angel points out in this book, those who avoid bread often miss it terribly because “[T]here are few things more enjoyable than a slice of artisan bread, toasted and slathered with butter.” Gluten-free breads just are not the same.
In Fifty Shades of Grain, Angel says that the key to eating bread and feeling great is “out with the new” and “in with the old.” In a short seventy pages, Angel describes the numerous, health-jeopardizing features of modern grain which include not just glyphosate but other pesticides, insecticides and fungicides; “synthetic soil”; mold and mycotoxins; excessive hybridization; removal of nutrients; rancidity; bleaching agents; and more. When it comes to making bread, the improper preparation of whole grains compounds the disaster.
These toxic practices are contributing to widespread gluten sensitivity and intolerance, leading to leaky gut and a variety of conditions associated with systemic inflammation. Angel says that for these individuals, avoidance of modern grain is “imperative.” However, once people have adopted a healthy lifestyle, begun to heal and restored balance, it is entirely possible to introduce ancient grains—slowly—and “live like a centenarian.”
There are a few key criteria: bread should be organically grown and traditionally processed (stone-ground) and made using age-old sourdough fermentation practices. Angel also offers several words of caution. First, don’t go overboard—our ancestors did not consume whole grains in the large amounts so common today. Second, don’t fall into the trap of solely scapegoating gluten. Angel says, “It’s not the gluten alone, it’s a combination of all the things done to modern and other industrialized grains.” She also notes that “just because it is gluten-free doesn’t mean it is crap-free.” Although there are a couple of pages of listings for preferred brands and one sourdough recipe at the close of the book, Angel’s primary focus is to warn readers about modern grain’s risks while providing encouragement to explore ancient grains and traditional preparation practices.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2019