I grew up in the 1950s above my parents’ bakery in Pennsylvania. Dad was a Master Baker from Denmark and did the baking while Mom took care of the retail end. My older brother and I had our specific jobs to do as well…definitely a family effort.
A baker’s day back then started around 1 a.m. The first dough to be made was the bread dough since it required lengthy rising and rest times. After the bread were the sweet doughs, Danish pastry and as the bakery cooled down a bit, the muffins, cakes and cookies…whatever was needed in the store.
I distinctly remember the “white” bread having a much different color to it than the bleached whites of today’s commercial breads and other baked goods. The color was naturally derived as well…no added color nor were there any of the strange additions to the dough. The whole wheat bread was a dense chewy loaf and when you ate any of my father’s bread, you had substance and didn’t feel hungry shortly afterwards.
I often have wondered why my baked goods don’t have the same taste or consistency as my father’s…even by using his recipes and pans. My brother and I have often wondered if we just blew the perfection of our father’s baking out of proportion…or what happened. We’re using all the same ingredients…or are we?
Apparently something did happen to change the wheat of my father’s baked goods. Modern wheat was introduced around 1960 and was developed by cross-breeding and genetic manipulation. It became a species of semi-dwarf grain which had an increased yield. This also changed the nutrient and protein composition of the plant. The world’s wheat crops were transformed in the 1950s and 1960s in a movement called the “Green Revolution”. The father of the movement, Norman Borlaug, is credited with saving one billion lives. He led the initiatives towards the development of the high yielding varieties of cereal grains, the irrigation infrastructure, the hybridized seeds, the synthetic fertilizers and the pesticides for the farmers.
Proof of the changes in wheat came about thanks to a long running experiment called “The Broadbalk Wheat Experiment”. It is one of the longest running scientific studies in history . Since 1843, the scientists have grown different strains of wheat and analyzing the various factions, including nutrient composition. From 1843 until about 1960, the nutrients didn’t change much. However, from the year 1960, which marks the introduction of modern wheat, the nutrient content started trending downward.
Combine the modern wheat dilemma with the steel rollers process of separating the different parts of the grain…the bran, middlings, wheat germ and the wheat germ oil…we are generations of people eating a product void of vital nutrients.
The Einkorn wheat compared to modern wheat doesn’t seem to have the harmful effects. In a study with celiac patients, the gluten from Einkorn caused less adverse reactions than modern gluten and was even better tolerated than rice.
” Here are some interesting facts I learned about the nutritional content and health benefits of einkorn:
Wheat gluten studies have found einkorn wheat may be non-toxic to suffers of gluten intolerance
Einkorn wheat has 14 chromosomes while modern wheats have 42 (Friendly to the body’s digestive system)
Einkorn contains 3 to 4 times more beta-carotene than modern wheats (Boosts immunity, helps prevent cancer and heart disease)
Einkorn contains 2 times more Vitamin A (retinol equivalent) than modern wheats (Healthy eyes, reproductive organs and prevention of many cancers)
Einkorn contains 3 to 4 times more lutein than modern wheats (Prevention of macular degeneration and cataracts)
Einkorn contains 4-5 times more riboflavin than modern wheats (Used by the body to create energy and is an antioxidant that slows aging)
Einkorn is a “hulled” wheat, whereas modern wheats are not. The hull can protect the grain from stray chemical contamination and insects making it an easier grain to grow
Thankfully, the old wheats still exist(Einkorn) and a comparison of nutrients shows a marked difference. When I look at the Einkorn nutrient levels, I can then understand the true value of “our daily bread” and our desperate need to educate the general population so that future generations will have real and healthy food. .