Over the past 20 years I have read and studied hundreds of books and baked well over a million loaves of sourdough bread. As well as being a baker, I might best describe myself as a ‘microorganism culturist’ or microbiologist with practical experience.
At the time of this reading, you may or may not have encountered recent arguments demonizing eating gluten-containing grains, but as my research over the years clearly indicates it is not these grains that are at fault, but the modern way we prepare and eat them.
Our history clearly indicates that planting, harvesting and baking baked goods from these gluten-containing grains was one of the first steps that catapulted us from the nomadic lifestyle to a settled one, facilitating the birth of a civilization. Undisputed is that bread played the fundamental role of a staple nutritious diet that enabled us to further our knowledge into other areas of development, instead of constantly spending our time roaming for foods for our daily survival. As a whole, we thrived on bread for thousands of years, but only in the past 100-150 years have our methods of preparing food from these vital nutritious grains changed in such a way that problems have arisen. Again: the grains have not changed markedly, but the way we prepare them substantially has.
My intimate knowledge of observing and working with microorganisms intensified my research interests and facilitated to connect the dots conclusively: natural fermentation went hand in hand with making these grains an essential and readily digestible part of our diet. Our ancestors consumed these grains primarily after a bacteria-based fermentation process and subsequent baking process making bread out of it. New manufacturing processes of the last century that exclude these techniques are the culprit of modern gluten intolerances, not the grains.
Furthermore, evidence shows that the problem of gluten intolerances and food allergies in general are most dramatic in North America, less so in Europe and practically non-existent in Eastern European countries, where bacteria-based fermentation practices are more common and standard.
Another interesting relationship is, that people that eat predominantly rye breads are much less likely be afflicted by gluten intolerance, which also supports my observation for the importance of including bacteria-based fermentation processes. Rye flour requires souring and has a higher concentration of these beneficial bacteria. Another correlative observation is that gluten sensitivities steeply increase depending on increased exposure to the ‘wonder breads’ in the diet of previous generations, leading to teenagers developing gluten intolerances early in life, or even babies being born with this intolerance.
Our ancestors were not plagued with innumerable allergies common to us nowadays. Allergies are a symptomatic revolt of our body immune system against foreign things it doesn’t like, may it be food, the environment, or otherwise. As is common knowledge our digestive system, at the intestinal level, is the heart of our immune system. If it functions optimally and has the least amount of stress to function well, our overall health becomes much more robust.
In the overzealous quest to create ever more diverse industrial as well as artisan foods from gluten grains, we neglected to recognize the fundamental function and importance the bacteria-based fermentation process has for pre-digesting gluten, with devastating consequences.
The message is this: providing you limit the intake of non-bacterial based fermented gluten-containing grain products like cookies, cereals, noodles, pastries, etc. (most of which are also loaded with chemicals, preservatives, and sweeteners as well), and eat proper sourdough-based fermented products, you will not have to fear the ‘Gluten Demon’.
Without exception, all of our products in our bakery are based on traditional fermentation methods. We don’t just use ‘Sourdough’ as a pseudonym, but are 100% committed to this traditional craftsmanship.
For more in-depth information, I have written many articles that are available on our website at www.microsour.com. Check out the bibliography that lists over 100 books, (67 in English and 59 in German) for my sources of study and information; many are based on research dating back 100 years.
It is my sincere hope that I have heightened your awareness of this dilemma and explained how you can avoid it.
Silvio Lettrari Kaslo, February 29, 2012
Kaslo Sourdough Bakery
Note 1: Once you have been diagnosed as for having ‘Celiac Disease’, it may be too late, but pass this information on to friends; it may help them make decisions regarding their health, as well as the future health of their children.
Note 2: In the current crisis of people developing gluten intolerances, I want to identify three culprits that seem to act as accelerants. Nr. 1: The ‘Atkins Diet’, 100% protein-only (gluten) based bread, no carbohydrates (starch), no bacterial culture. Nr. 2: ‘Flourless Bread’, sprouted grain bread made with vital wheat gluten, no carbohydrates (starch), but protein (gluten), no bacterial culture. Nr. 3: ‘Home Breadmaker’, fully automatic fresh yeast bread, no bacterial culture.
You probably know already that industrial-made bread has little to do with bread anymore. Most retail bakers also just use bread mixes, or par-baked breads; few bakers make their own and if, then they usually just make yeast breads.