All grains contain peptides that mimic morphine or endogenous opioid substances. This is where I deal with my latest loaf craving. Get your bread-based exorphin fix here.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Basil and Hemp Loaf

Hemp and Basil Loaf

Since my friend David didn't get the last loaf, I made this one for him (and for me too, of course).  This was a simple loaf made with 20% hemp, and 0.7% basil.  It is quite a fragrant loaf -- and because of that, my wife doesn't much care for it.  The hydration was only 70%, but the hemp kept it quite loose, and it tended to sag a bit even at that.  It wasn't kneaded enough, due to time pressures.

  • 80% Whole Wheat berries, freshly milled
  • 20% Cracked hemp
  • 0.7% basil
  • 20% sourdough starter
  • 70% hydration
  • 2% sea salt

I must have been very distracted when I put this bread together.  I thought I took a picture of the loaf, uncut, but must have forgotten.  Am I thinking more about juicing than bread these days?  Is this a first symptom of loosening my bread addiction?

Wheatgrass Attitude
I've found a local organic supplier of wheatgrass, and I've tried it in my new juicer.  It tastes pretty much as you would expect -- like grass -- but it is also extremely, almost impossibly sweet. 

A tray of wheatgrass, freshly harvested for about 4oz of juice.


As easy as it is for me to buy a tray of that local wheatgrass, I figured that a more consistent and less expensive way to obtain it would be to grow it myself.  And as soon as I began looking for instruction on how to do that, I quickly learned of the work of Michael Bergonzi.

Bergonzi grew wheatgrass for 18+ years for some pretty prestigious raw food places -- like the Hippocrates Institute, which grew out of the work of Ann Wigmore, the one who wrote the first books on the benefits of wheatgrass.  In the process, Bergonzi became the defacto expert on how to grow it.  Many of his techniques can be found online, including some YouTube videos of lectures.

Rather than talk about anything specific he says about wheatgrass here, however, I want to discuss one of his prevailing attitudes that I find in just about every one of his seminars that I've seen so far.  You might find his talks a bit annoying.  I did at first.  But despite what he says, and how he says it, which might be off-putting, or inspiring (or boring, since the video is 2 hours long), depending on how you are feeling at any given moment, there is a certain prevailing attitude of his that I find refreshing.  In the midst of so many dieters shouting their advice on what you "should" and "shouldn't" eat, Bergonzi simply refuses to tell you what to do.  Bergonzi appears to have arrived at this unique attitude through years of boredom over all the pointless talk about food:

"Can't we all get along?" he says.  

What he means is, let some people eat raw, some people eat meat, some people eat dairy, some people eat bread.  Everyone has a different metabolism.  What's good for some may not be good for all.

"We have to stop with the judgement on food.  Food is not a religion, it is not a god, it is not a cult.  It's a choice.  That's all it should ever be...
"I'm not going to tell you what you should or shouldn't do.  It's not my job on this planet anymore..." 
"I'm not here to change you; I'm not here to judge you.  I'm over that.  I don't care what you do, I'm going to love you either way." 
--from the YouTube Video, "Michael Bergonzi--Chlorophyll Green Juice Oxygen"

Food as a Choice
This resonated with me because the same day I heard Bergonzi talk about food as a choice, I was reading Kelly McGonigal's 2011 book, "The Willpower Instinct: How self-control works, why it matters and what you can do to get more of it." In the first chapter, McGonigal reports, 

"One study asked people how many food-related decisions they made in one day.  What would you say?  On average, people guessed fourteen.  In reality, when these same folks carefully tracked their decisions, the average was 227.  That's more than two hundred choices people were initially unaware of -- and those are just the decisions related to eating.  How can you control yourself if you aren't even aware that there is something to control?"
In addition to the silos of thought that Bergonzi rails against, with some people shunning others who eat a different way, there is a lot of hype and marketing surrounding food choices.  Making more conscious food choices, rather than letting other people make those choices for us, will go a long way to reconnecting ourselves to what we need to survive, and to our planet's health.  

I am beginning to think that any movement toward becoming more aware of the food you eat -- even a change as small as making your own bread, as in my case -- can go a long way toward loosening the chains of food addiction, or food habit.   Perhaps it has taken me three plus years, but just the act of becoming more aware of what bread is, and making my own, has allowed me to become more conscious of all my food choices.

Our food choices have expanded with the increased global traffic in food materials.  But our food choices do make a difference, and we have to become aware of the far-reaching effects of growing, moving, and processing food.  I'm thinking of history here: for example, do you suppose it was easier for Jesus, who never left his mostly rural Jewish communities, to say to his disciples "when you go into a village, stay with the first person who invites you and eat whatever you are given."  (note:  Biblical/historical scholars might say that it may have been difficult for Jesus too, because Judaism at that time was not completely unified in what was considered proper to eat.  While it might not be apropos to call the various Jewish groups "sects", each sub-group interpreted the texts on food proscription differently.  What Jesus was saying, in effect, was 'Can't we all get along?  I don't care what you do, I'm going to love you anyway.')  I suppose it was less easy for his disciples, who began leaving those Jewish communities to enter predominantly Gentile communities; food was very nearly a make-or-break proposition for the fledgling religion, as it struggled with how to handle the offer of non-kosher food.  And it was harder still for the early Gentile Christians who later began to refuse to eat certain meat because it had been butchered as a sacrifice to a Greek or Roman god.   Their decisions began to change the economies of the cities in which they resided, and it was one of the reasons why early Greek-speaking Christians were persecuted.  And perhaps it may even have had something to do with why the Roman economies faltered, and why Christianity eventually came to dominate Rome itself.

This is not the place to discuss whether or not the Gentile Christians were following anything resembling the path or the attitude of their founder.  The point is, whether you are restricting what you eat, or opening up to further possibilities in your food choices, every conscious choice you make, here today on an individual scale, will not only affect your individual health, but ultimately the health of the planet.  Who will ultimately control the food supply?  Your food choices are deciding who gets rich, and who has a future.

Perhaps, if we finally become conscious about what we eat, we can begin to be conscious of even more important matters.  Take your attention off food, and begin to love.  Show an increase in spirit.

I'll give the last word to Bergonski:

"Don't let food define your happiness."

Notes to Myself
  • McGonigal was specifically quoting the study by Wansink, B. and Sobal, J. (2007) Mindless Eating. Environment and Behavior 39. pp. 106-23, but most of Wansink's accessible work typically contains the concept of Mindless Eating (see for example this article about the small plate movement).
  • There is a lot to digest in Bergonzi's talk, and I wouldn't say I agree with all of it.  But there is certainly enough there to consider deeply.  His idea of not eating anything in the presence of others is antithetical to how food is generally considered in our society; and therefore I suspect that Bergonzi's several jokes about not having any friends might actually have some bearing in truth.  How can you trust someone who will not eat with you?  How can you get to know them if they won't eat with you?  This is a step beyond what most people would be willing to try: to completely refuse the social aspect of food.  Note that as much as I admire some of what Bergonzi says, I cannot imagine emulating this.  Compare his attitude of entirely private eating to that of Jesus, who would eat anything with anyone.  Most of us fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.
  • For far too long, I've been letting food define my happiness.  "Happiness is my bread."  Where did that come from?  I no longer recognize myself.  Calling myself an exorphin junkie. Am I nothing more than what I eat?  Somebody else said that.  Someone who also said, man cannot live by bread alone.

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