I don’t know about you but I’ve just about had it with ‘gluten free’ everything, from potato chips to ketchup to flour. If you look at the labels, however, you’ll find that sugar and unpronounceable chemicals make up the bulk of the ingredients. Yuck. That’s a far cry from flour, water, yeast and salt and the seductive scents of a fresh-baked loaf.
For us, Christmas is a season for cooking like mad for days then eating the items we tend to avoid during the year – rich cakes laden with fruit and laced with booze, shortbread/butter cookies light with rice flour and baked blonde-brown in a gentle oven, pound cakes, rolled cookies, Eagle Brand condensed milk cookie bars so sweet with candied fruit they’ll make your teeth hurt if you eat more than two at a sitting.
Having said all that, I’ve done my research. Amongst all of the red flags and sky-is-falling coverage there is some balanced coverage of why modern wheat now makes a lot of people genuinely ill. I found this on a website called Grainstorm:
First we invented mechanical technologies to turn wheat into barren white flour. Then, we invented chemical and genetic technologies to make it resistant to pests, drought and blight and easier to harvest, dramatically increasing yield per acre. And, while we were tweaking genetics, we also figured out how to increase glutens for better “baking properties” (fluffier results). Put another way:
We have mutant seeds, grown in synthetic soil, bathed in chemicals. They’re deconstructed, pulverized to fine dust, bleached and chemically treated to create a barren industrial filler that no other creature on the planet will eat. And we wonder why it might be making us sick?
If all this alarms you, the simple and obvious prescription is “don’t eat wheat”. Hence the gluten-free craze. But, for most of us, there is an alternative solution: don’t eat industrial flour made with modern wheat.
I haven’t done that for years. Instead, I’ve sourced ancient grains, non genetically modified wheat or organic products. With names like Emmer and Kamut, Red Fife and Einkhorn, using them is an adventure – going back in time when seeds weren’t fiddled with. We’re fortunate to have several producers in Canada – Anitas Organic Mill and Fieldstone Organics in British Columbia and Prime Grains in Saskatchewan. Even Bulk Barn and Amazon stock specialty flours, so there’s no reason not to give them a try.
When I bake bread every other week, I now use sprouted grain flour in addition to the organic spelt flour I’ve bought in bulk for years.
What I’m not going to do is panic and switch to factory-made processed products whose ingredients I’m not sure of. I accept that some folks have sensitivities to certain foods. For celiac sufferers, the danger and digestive agony are real. But many more folks have jumped on a new dietary bandwagon.
We need to stop beating ourselves up. Don’t believe the ‘whole grains’ hype manufacturers slap on products from cereal to doughnuts. Good food lovingly prepared is not poison. The Old Wives were right – “All good things in moderation”. Let’s take it slow and enjoy the process of home preparation. It’s simply about getting back to basics.