Did you know that:
1) The delicious bagels, doughnuts, Challah bread, and fluffy cakes you eat are not made with the same wheat your grandparents ate.
2) The incidence of Celiac disease and gluten intolerance in the US has increased 4x since 1950.
3) My mother can’t eat American wheat.
As you might suspect, all these statements are very much related, and in what follows I will show you why. But first let’s talk about my background for a second.
A Hunk of Bread in One Hand…
I was born in the Republic of Moldova, in Eastern Europe, on a small farm. In my culture bread is considered holy and we believe it is a sin to throw it away. If bread goes moldy, we scrape the mold off and feed it to our animals, not the trash can. This reverence we have towards bread comes from the fact that it is such a huge staple of our diet and that wheat is rather hard to grow. Every Moldovan eats their meals with a hunk of bread in one hand a spoon or fork in the other. A dish is never complete unless its eaten with bread.
When my mother came to visit last Christmas, I stocked our kitchen with bagels, french baguettes, and multigrain breads of all kinds for her sake. Although I have been gluten-free for a few years now, my family has had a hard time understanding the concept of giving up bread for health reasons. “What do you mean bread makes you bloated?”, asked my grandma last time I was home and refused a freshly baked slice of bread from our massive clay oven. “I don’t get bloated. Your mother doesn’t get bloated, and we’ve been eating this all our lives!”
Imagine my surprise when my mother, just three days into her visit, began avoiding bread. At first I pretended not to notice, as I didn’t want to bring up a touchy subject, but I finally caved in and asked her. “I don’t like it honey. This isn’t bread. The more I chew it the harder it gets… sort of like glue. Then it just sits here.” she said pointing underneath her belly button. “It wont move!” My mother’s observation was more spot on than I realized at the time. Here is why.