The Role of Bread in the Ancient Diet

The Role of Bread in the Ancient Diet

Yesterday, Abigail's Oven was invited to participate in Cedar Fort's "A Day in Ancient Israel." There we sold uncut loaves of our REAL™ Sourdough Bread in their ancient Bazaar.
Abigail Selling at the Bazaar

We also showed how grain was ground into flour using a using a quern. This was a slow and labor-intensive process. However, it was the only way to grind grain before the invention of the watermill and the windmill. The average woman of the household spent four hours daily to make the flour needed to bake two loaves leavened with sourdough.

From grinding we demonstrated how to use that flour to make barley and wheat loaves, and flat, unleavened bread.

Demonstrating Bread Making

Several times that day, I reminded attendees who said they no longer eat bread, that Jesus said that "Man shall not live by bread alone,"(Matthew 4:4). Which suggests that humankind does and perhaps should eat bread as part of a good diet, unless of course you suffer from gluten intolerance

While the Cleveland Clinic reports that just 6% of Americans are gluten intolerant (1% suffer from Celiac disease), for some reason it has become vogue to eat gluten free. In fact 31% of us, according to Statista, are eating gluten-free as a lifestyle choice.

Jesus's quote taken from Deuteronomy 8:3, suggests the need for more than just physical sustenance to survive and thrive. In Deuteronomy 8:3, the Israelites were reminded that their survival in the wilderness did not just depend on physical food (mana), but also on obeying God's commandments. They are told that if they trust in God and follow his commands, he will provide for them. But neither Deuteronomy nor Matthew's words suggest we stop eating bread all together like so many of us are doing these days

In Matthew, Jesus as is tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he suggest Jesus turn stones into bread to satisfy his hunger, but Jesus refuses. He tells Satan that people need more than just physical food to survive. In those times, bread was a staple food in the Jewish diet and had been a part of every meal for centuries.  Bread was not just consumed alone but was used as a utensil to scoop up food and worked as plates do on our modern table, holding entire meals and then being used to mop up what was left or tossed to the dogs (see Matthew 15:27 in Wikipedia). 

Bread in the Ancient Diet and Life

Today, bread is still an important part of the Jewish diet. It is eaten at most meals, and it is also used in religious ceremonies. Bread is a reminder of the many things that are important to the Jewish people, including their faith, their history, and their continuity.

In the Jewish tradition, bread was seen as a symbol of many things, including:

  • Nourishment: Bread is a source of physical sustenance, and it is often used as a metaphor for spiritual nourishment.
  • Bread was often eaten with other foods. This could include meat, vegetables, or fruits. Bread was also used as a utensil to scoop up food.
  • Bread was often dipped in liquids. This could include water, milk, or wine. Dipping bread in liquids was a way to soften the bread and make it easier to eat.
  • Bread was sometimes eaten plain. This was especially common in Ancient Israel where bread was a staple food.
  • Bread was also used in religious ceremonies. For example, in ancient Egypt, bread was offered to the gods as a sacrifice and it was used in Jewish ceremonies.

Bread also played an important role in the life of Jesus. He often used bread as a teaching tool, and he also used it in the Last Supper. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst." (John 6:35).

Why Bread Should Be Part of a Modern Diet

There are many reasons why you might want to eat sourdough bread with every meal. Here are a few of the most important ones:

  • Sourdough bread can be more nutritious than other breads. This is especially true when whole and organic grains are used to make the bread. The fermentation process that sourdough undergoes breaks down the phytates in the grains, which makes the nutrients more bioavailable. This means that your body can absorb the nutrients in sourdough bread more easily.
  • Sourdough bread is easier to digest than other breads. The fermentation process also breaks down some of the gluten in sourdough bread, which can make it easier for people with gluten intolerance to digest.
  • Sourdough bread has a lower glycemic index than other breads. This means that it doesn't cause your blood sugar to spike as much after eating. This can be beneficial for people with diabetes or those who are trying to lose weight.
  • Sourdough bread has a longer shelf life than other breads. This is because the fermentation process creates lactic acid, which helps to preserve the bread.
  • Sourdough bread has a distinctive sour flavor that some people find appealing.
  • And some studies have show that eating sourdough with meals may help people actually lose weight.

Of course, there are also some potential drawbacks to eating sourdough bread with every meal. For example, slices could slightly higher in calories and carbohydrates than some other types of bread you eat. Additionally, the fermentation process can produce small amounts of alcohol, which may be a concern for some people, but it does bake off.

Overall, sourdough bread is a healthy and nutritious choice that can be enjoyed with every meal. However, it is important to be aware of the potential drawbacks before making it a staple of your diet.

Here are some additional tips for eating sourdough bread:

  • Choose whole grain sourdough bread whenever possible. This will give you the most nutrients and fiber.
  • Look for sourdough bread that is made with active cultures. This will ensure that the bread is still fermenting and producing beneficial bacteria.
  • Store sourdough bread in a cool, dry place. This will help it to last longer.
  • Enjoy sourdough bread with a variety of toppings and spreads. This will help you to get the most out of its nutritional benefits.

Check our out Ancient Grain Sourdough Recipes

  • Ezekiel Bread: Commercial Ezekiel bread is made from sprouted grains and legumes, but this recipe uses long fermentation to accomplish the same level of digestibility. This recipe returns us the the counsel of the Prophet Ezekiel to use both barley and wheat flour, garfava flour (milled fava beans and chickpeas), lentil flour, milled millet, and ground spelt. The flavor and crumb are great, and the crusts are wonderfully crisp.
  • Unleavened Bread Unleavened bread plays an important role in Israel, both religious and cultural. It is most commonly associated with the Jewish holiday of Passover, which commemorates the Israelites' exodus from Egypt. According to the Bible, the Israelites left Egypt in such a hurry that they did not have time for their bread to rise, so they ate unleavened bread instead. But if you take the time to make this flatbread, it works for any elegant twenty-first century reception. 
  • Einkorn Sourdough Artisan Bread: Einkorn is one of the oldest wheat strains on our planet. It has as much gluten as modern wheat, but it is free of the high molecular weight proteins that are hard to digest in modern wheat. But because einkorn gluten is different, dough made with it does not handle the same as other wheat flour. It usually makes a wet and hard to manage dough. But this recipe should help help you get the job done well. 


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