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.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The First Bread I Never Ate: 23.5% Rye with Wheat Sprouts

 23.5% Rye with Wheat Sprouts

I made this bread, but this is the first bread I ever made that I didn't also eat myself.  I gave one to my friend, and my wife ate part of a loaf, before I could explain the reasons behind my fast.  She may not finish it.  The chickens might get the rest.

about a cup of wheat berry sprouts

steeped dough

  • 765g wheat berries
  • 235g rye kernels
  • 160g wheat sprouts
  • 200g sourdough starter
  • 18g salt
  • 770g water
  • 50g water with salt
  • 50g water with sprouts
  • 50g water to steep
She says it tastes fine, but you can see that there is a tiny spot of crumb where the bread didn't fully develop where the loaf sat on the stone.  Perhaps the stone wasn't hot enough, who knows?

The Lost Tale of Star Trek
When I was a young boy, I was a big fan of Star Trek, the original TV series, and someone gave me one of the early books for my birthday.  I read "Mission to Horatius"  by Mack Reynolds several times.  This  book is sometimes known as the "lost book of Star Trek", because it was originally published by Whitman Books, not Pocket Books, the company that published James Blish's novels based on the series.  Pocket Books later released a facsimile edition of "Horatius" with an introduction by John Ordover.

"Mission to Horatius" was never made into a TV show because it rambled on about an illness infecting the crew of the starship Enterprise called space cafard, which derived from the boredom of living in a tin can among the emptiness of interstellar void.  It didn't really make for an exciting tale.  Considered a kid's story, "Mission to Horatius" can be found online now.

However, the online version does not contain the forward to the story -- perhaps I had the facsimile edition, so I'm not sure whether this was written by Ordover.  This forward explained a brief and thrilling history of humans and their leap to the stars, in the Star Trek universe.  I remember a line in that preamble said something like, "with the invention of faster-than-light warp drive engines, suddenly the word 'parsec' came into common parlance."  I remember the word 'parsec' sent me to the dictionaries.  There was no Google then.

One thing Reynolds (or Ordover) said in the forward to the book I found quite unsettling.  I found I couldn't actually come to terms with it, when I read this, even as a youngster.  Reynolds said that humans had shown amazing adaptability, and had discovered ways to thrive in every environment -- and now, that included space.  That didn't sit well with me.  

I reflected that, as far as earth environments were concerned, this seemed to be true.  Humans had covered the globe.  They could live in just about any environment on earth.  Beduins could live in the desert.  Hawaiians could live on a lush Island.  The Inuit survived and thrived in regions of the earth that were inhospitable.

But outer space was another matter entirely.  There is no air, no water, no food, in space.  The temperature is not conducive to life as we know it.  Dangerous cosmic rays travel through space and when we leave our protective planet's atmosphere, we are unshielded.  Is it truly adaptation to build environments like starships that replicate earth gravity and earth atmosphere?  To me, even as a young teenager, that did not seem to show "humans adapting to an environment", but rather "humans adapting their environment to suit them."  As a young child, the only way I could reconcile this dilemma was by thinking, "perhaps he means that our intelligence allows us to adapt the environment to make it livable.  Perhaps the intelligence of humans allows for a more generalized adaptation, one not tied to a specific environment. "  

But I still didn't feel as if this were the whole answer.  Was Reynolds (or Ordover) using the right word?  He knew words that I didn't -- words like 'parsec' -- but his use of the word 'adapt' seemed just plain wrong.

I looked around at my own home.  The winters were hard here in Canada.  Without this house, I couldn't live here, year round.  I wasn't adapted to this environment, like the deer, or the coyotes or the raccoons in the forest.  Even the Inuit were not truly adapting to the extreme north, although they'd lived there for generations beyond counting: without those furs which they stole from other animals who had truly adapted, they wouldn't last more than a few minutes naked on the snow in the depth of winter.  "Is adaptation different for humans than it is for other animals?" I wondered.  Just because we can survive somewhere, and we change the environment to make it somewhat hospitable, does that mean we have adapted to it?  Or has our intelligence merely allowed us to live here temporarily in an environment that we could never adapt to?

Our Home and Native Land
As an adult, I have been dabbling in organic gardening in my backyard, in the hopes that I can someday, somehow, provide a substantial part of my diet from my own property.  

But winters are extremely problematic for me.  Half of the year at least, I can expect no produce from my own garden (and the other half of the year, I'm not really self sufficient, as much as that might once have been one of my goals).  I can't really grow enough on my tiny residential lot to feed myself and my wife.  So even though we've put down roots, we are not entirely indigenous here, and never will be.  We're not natives to this lot we live on.  And that disconnection from the earth is troublesome to me.  This is the place where I was born and raised; this is the home of my ancestors, going back six or more generations.  Although that is nothing in evolutionary terms, it is important to me.  But now I'm wondering if I truly belong here.  To adapt to this environment, I have to be able to feed myself.  And what if I am not fully able to adapt to the food that is available to me?

How does any of us become indigenous where we live?

The Provenance of Hygienists Ideas 
I've been thinking about all this recently since I learned of the work of raw food proponent Frederic Patenaude Recently I blogged about Patenaude, from whom I first learned of the Bonobo diet; and after reading some of his work, I've been going back to his sources, and I'm beginning to unravel the thread of history that makes up the alternative health theories of the "Natural Hygienists."  Patenaude has been deeply influenced by Douglas Graham, who was influenced by T.C.Fry* (who likely originated the idea that the primal human diet -- the one we evolved with -- most closely resembled the Bonobo diet); Fry in turn was influenced by Herbert M. Shelton.  Shelton's influences were Isaac Jennings, Sylvester Graham and Thomas Allinson, but it was Shelton's extensive work on fasting and raw food that consolidated this alternative, natural medicine of prevention, and it was he who named it orthopathy.  Not all of the proponents of these ideas have been doctors; some have been chiropractors, some nutritionists, some have had no degrees at all.  Some have had great success from their own experience (e.g. Nathan Pritikin), without apparently being directly involved in this chain of influence, or idea transmission.  Unravelling the influences seems almost as pointless as discovering the provenance of an idea from an early Star Trek novel.  

Orthopathy (a name which apparently hasn't caught on -- mostly people use the term "Natural Hygiene" instead) doesn't seem to be an organized hierarchy or accredited field, after all, but rather an ideal to which some people aspire.  Virtually anyone who claims that eating a healthy diet can go a long way toward preventing disease and illness falls under its umbrella, but there is a wide range of opinion over what a healthy diet actually is.  Some, like Patenaude and Shelton, have refined their thinking over their lifetime: Patenaude was eating raw veg for many years but used dehydrators and complicated raw recipes before changing to a raw diet that was simpler, and based on whole foods (mostly fruits, leafy greens, some vegetables), like Douglas Graham.  Shelton gradually gave up dairy products over his lifespan.

Today's authors have even changed some of the core ideas of some of the founders, but the field is still vibrant.  One of the more respected modern authors who work in "nutrition-based treatments for obesity and chronic disease" is Dr. Joel Fuhrman (who can be seen in interviews in Joe Cross's movie, "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" -- but whether Fuhrman follows the chain of influence I've outlined here remains to be seen.  Eventually I'll get around to Fuhrman's books, I suppose.  I say he is 'respected: I'm sure he's drawn some criticism, but I haven't found anyone out there who is working to destroy him, the way some of these other earlier natural hygienists were.

In the meantime, many interesting books in this field, from all of these older authors, are available online in the repository currently housed at The Soil and Health Library.  I'm dipping into them as I'm able, but there is a lot there.  And because many authors changed their ideas as they aged or developed their thinking, a lot of work would be required to sift the wheat from the chaff.  

Horne's Pain
As an Exorphin Junkie who has been fixated on bread for the last few years, I found this book in the repository to be most interesting to me:  Horne, Ross (1988) Improving on Pritikin: you can do better. Happy Landings Pty. Ltd. Australia.

It may be that my own thinking on whole grains, the last few years  -- my absolute steadfastness in baking whole grain breads, in the face of an entire bread baking culture that refused to make it the way I wanted it -- has been influenced by Pritikin.  I may have read some of his books (or perhaps Ross Horne's other book, an early version of "The Health Revolution") when I was quite young and impressionable, the same way I read Star Trek books and anything else that was within reach.  I seem to recall one of his books in my hand when I was a teenager, and I must have absorbed some of his ideas.

Horne was a Pritikin devotee for many years, but eventually he came to speak out against what he felt was wrong with the Pritikin diet, and the Macrobiotic Diet and many other diets.  In principle, these diets saw health-giving results because they were on the right track away from the Standard American Diet (SAD) of cooked meat, high fat, high protein, low fresh fruits and greens.  However, Horne found that cooking itself, and excess intake of grains was ultimately detrimental to human health.  "Improving on Pritikin" was Horne's attempt to fix what he saw were some of the more subtle problems of the Pritikin diet.

Horne, more than any other author on the subject who has written on this, has convinced me that cooked grains (and what is bread, but that?) are ultimately unhealthy for humans.  As Douglas Graham said in his booklet "Grain Damage," "In an orchard of ripe fruit, you could eat to your heart's content.  In a ripe field of wheat, you would starve to death."  We did not evolve eating grains.  As Horne says, "grains are for the birds."  

Humans have tried to adapt grains to our use as a food source -- using our intelligence and many ingenious devices to plant, nurture, grow, harvest, grind up, and cook them -- but we haven't really evolved to use them efficiently, and they end up hurting us.

Horne writes, "Grains are not vegetables, and a person who eats them is technically not a true vegetarian."  He cites Shelton, who said, "The advocates of whole cereals in preference to the de-natured kinds, did their work too well.  Vegetarians are usually great eaters of cereals.  They would receive less harm from moderate amounts of meat."  Horne suggests: "abandon grain products completely for a week or so and see what happens."

For me, it didn't even take a week.  On the fifth day of my fast from bread and dairy products, I began to realize that I had been carrying a small chronic ache in my hips when I walk, something which I was unconscious of, until it disappeared.  On my fast from bread and dairy, this chronic ache is now gone.  Why was the ache there?  Was it the beginning of arthritis, or osteoporosis?  Could it have been due to calcium being leached from my bones to make up for the calcium that the extra bran was scooping from my GI tract?  Was it because I was now simply better hydrated, or that more minerals were being absorbed via my diet?  I don't know.  All I know is the tiny ache I wasn't even entirely aware of, is now gone.  In short: I'm healthier.  I can already tell.

Is it possible, in Canada, to eat year round Fruits and Leafy Green Veggies?
Horne says, "Good quality fruit costs a lot more than bread or oats or spaghetti but you will find in the long run it is money well spent."

The Bonobo diet -- a raw food diet that is mostly fruit, some greens, and a few vegetables (concisely detailed by Graham in his book "The 80-10-10 Diet") goes back even farther than the recently popularized "Paleo Diet" in human history.  Sure, prior to the advent of agriculture, when we first started eating grains in abundance, members of our human tribe were hunter gatherers, and cookers of flesh, subsisting on wild game and whatever fruits and leaves we found along the way.  But we didn't evolve as hunter-gatherers.  We evolved like the other primates, eating mostly fruit and leafy greens.  So before we were ever meat eaters, before we ever cooked our food, we ate a raw fruit and leafy green and partial vegetable diet.  And that is all we ate for millions of years before the paleolithic humans changed it all.  So the raw food eater following Graham's diet returns to food that can be eaten without cooking, yes, but also without processing of any kind.  Throw away your juicers, your dehydrators, your fridges, your stoves and ovens.  All you need is fruit, a few leaves, a few veggies, and a water source.  You should be eating 80% carbs, 10% protein and 10% fat -- that is a target, a direction -- and you get that when you eat mostly fruit and some greens (according to Graham).

Humans seem to have adapted to other meal plans besides raw fruits and veggies as they began banding together in tribes to hunt.  When wild game and foraged food became scarce, they began banding together in towns, surrounded by fields where agriculture was first tried, and as soil depleted they moved out over the earth, terraforming, until now we have humans banding together in cities, surrounded by a rural landscape of monoculture grains, which largely sustains millions upon millions of us.  The adaptation hasn't been entirely successful, as our bodies are still designed to eat raw fruits and vegetables.  And so, when we eat cooked meat and grains, we will end up with chronic diseases and acute illnesses because we eat too much protein, too much fat, and we denature all of our food.  On meat, dairy, grains, and processed foods (what most of us eat), we automatically get too much fat, too much protein, and too much that is toxic to our bodies, with not enough micronutrients.  Our bodies "adapt" to this diet by making us overweight and sick.  

I have seen so much cancer, so much heart disease, so much death.  I have watched families ripped apart as they struggle with the fading personalities of their loved ones who have succumbed to Alzheimer's Disease, or the physically debilitating Lou Gerig's Disease, MS or other chronic degenerative diseases.  In nursing school we were taught to look upstream for the causes of these ailments, to stop the holocaust at the source, not downstream where we find the dead bodies floating toward us.  The cause has to be diet and our environment.  It has to be.  We are poisoning ourselves.  We are not adapting. We don't have another billion years to evolve.  We have to start now and eat the way we were meant to eat.  

How far back do we have to go to achieve the diet we were meant to eat?  Do we go back to Paleohumans, who killed game and foraged for fruits and veggies?  Do we go back to the Mango groves, where bonobo-like proto-humans first evolved?  Or do we go back even farther than that?  Were our evolutionary ancestors more like the Colugos (a herbivore) before we defended from the trees?  What were those ancestral Euarchontoglires eating, before we became differentiated?  Has the eating of meat or grains changed our brains, given us more intelligence, caused us to somehow become self-aware?  Would that adaptation be worth the chronic diseases that cooked meats and grains have also given us?

If humans insist on eating cooked foods, grains, meats, will we eventually adapt to this diet?  What will it take to adapt to a diet?  How many millions of years before cancers and heart disease and immune diseases are eliminated as natural selection finally does its work?  Will our intelligence learn to transform our foods to what we need, or will we evolve into a species that is able to live entirely on these things?  What will be the cost in terms of individuals who never make the transition?

How many extinct species of mammals never made it because their food source was obliterated while we terraformed our way to a world of monoculture grain?

My Journey
Everyone says eat more vegetables and fruit.  When will we?  How can we get more?  By removing the more harmful things -- the meat, the dairy, the grain.  For me, I had already given up meat.  The dairy and grain have been much much harder to give up.

Today is just the sixth day of my fast from bread and dairy, almost having completed Horne's challenge of going one week grain-free.  Already I'm considering taking up Graham's challenge of doing this for one year.  Already I'm wondering if I can sustain this diet here in Canada, where fruit and leafy greens simply do not grow year round. Transporting them here is prohibitively expensive, even in ecological terms.  Humans don't really belong here.  But pretty soon, they won't belong in the greenhouse-gas superheated equatorial orchards where proto-humans evolved, either.  I'm afraid we're screwed, as a species.  We don't have time to adapt.  We'll never make it to the stars.

All I know is, on a personal level, I'm already starting to crave fruit and naked lettuce.  Have I broken my bread addiction?  Will I be able to afford expensive fruit and veg year round?

For now, the Exorphin Junkie is signing off.  Today, I'm throwing out my sourdough starter that I've kept viable for bread-making these last five years.   As of today, it is compost.

I think I'm becoming a frugivore.  

But like any junkie, I'll have to just take this one day at a time.  

Bye-Bye, Bread

The Final Crumb Shot

Unbaked spot: the final imperfection

Notes to Myself

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