When Jesus taught us to pray, he included, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Few people, however, in modern society, think of bread as families did in the past. We read in Sirach,
“The principal things necessary for the life of men, are water, fire, and iron, salt, milk, and bread of flour, and honey, and the cluster of the grape, and oil, and clothing.”
No meat or vegetables are mentioned, no “apple a day”, etc.. Man needs bread. When St. Benedict wrote a practical rule for the Christian life of men and women living and working in monasteries, he suggested the following diet:
“We think it sufficient for daily meal, both at the sixth and ninth hour, that there be at all seasons two dishes, because of the infirmities of different people; so that he who cannot eat of one, may make his meal of the other. Let two dishes of hot food suffice, and if there be any apples or young vegetables, let them be added as a third dish. Let one pound weight of bread suffice for the day, whether there be one refection, or both dinner and supper.”
This was understood, at the time to be a generous diet, for previous rules were much stricter. The hot dishes were not offered for multiple servings, but to serve people with different needs. What was the same for everyone was bread–1 lb. per day for each person.
It’s surprising, today, to find people actually suggesting that wheat bread is the cause of sickness! We find millions of people unable to eat the most basic food given to us by God. Obviously, something is wrong and if man is to be healthy, he must be able to eat bread. Bread is a “principal thing necessary for life”!
We must first consider whether the “bread” we’re eating is the bread we should be eating. These ancient sources are not talking about mass-produced and artificially preserved supermarket bread, but home-made, whole-wheat bread.
Rather than blaming bread for our sickness, we need to realize that the common “allergies” and sicknesses related to bread-eating are a sign of a deeper problem with our health. Taking bread out of the diet will lead to a host of other digestive problems, as we’re removing the principal food of the human diet! We cannot allow this to be done.
We need to learn how to bring our bodies to a place where they can digest bread and, if there is some discomfort in doing so, we must consider whether that bearing with that discomfort is worth the benefits offered to our bodies by bread.
My family of twelve has enjoyed nearly perfect health over the last 20 years. While I do not believe that it is caused by our food, for “man does not live by bread alone”, I do believe that our farm-based diet has kept any causes of sickness out of our diet. I also know that during times when I have been forced to move away from farm foods, I began to experience digestive problems and when I returned to simple farm foods, everything improved.
Our trust in the wisdom and goodness of God should lead us to desire the simple things He created for us. Let’s stop thinking that man’s health is dependent on a complex diet of medicines and special foods, and get back to simple, natural basics.
Michael Family Farm