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Food for Thought: Is Soaking Grains “Traditional”?

This is my brain. image This is my brain on grains. :-}image I have been reading so many words I can’t pronounce these past few months and wishing I had kept little index cards like a college student as I try to unravel the story of grains. It’s tough to wrap my brain around!

It’s soaking grains week, so even though I don’t feel like I’m to the bottom of this issue by any means, I’m going to start sharing what I’ve unearthed thus far.

Today’s post will focus on the historical and biblical aspects of grains, and Thursday I’ll dig into the scientific literature. Please remember that I’m just a mom with an English/Education degree. I don’t do this for a living! I feel strongly that bloggers and authors shouldn’t be disseminating shoddy, outdated science or passing off personal opinion as fact. I was shocked to discover the controversy on soaking grains after I swallowed the Nourishing Traditions take on it hook, line and sinker a year ago.

Remember that I’m still tentatively soaking my grains, in part because of the anecdotal evidence that something is impacting digestion in what feels like a positive way.

RELATED: Long-term grain storage

What Does “Traditional Foods” Mean?

First, let’s remember that the nomenclature isn’t exactly supported by Webster’s, but that food writers and cookbook authors are creating the language as they go. That being said, in general “traditional foods” usually means whole foods and methods of preparation from native cultures, usually more like thousands of years ago rather than last century.

Asking our grandparents what they ate is a fascinating endeavor and a good step. We can learn a lot and find many traditional foods techniques there, but just because Grandma didn’t do it, doesn’t mean it’s not traditional. Also keep in mind that most grandmas only represent one ethnic culture, and we’re looking at a body of research spanning countries and continents whenever possible.

“Real Food” is often used more broadly, to encompass plants that are grown in the dirt, animals that eat plants grown in the dirt, and keeping our foods in whole form and as close to nature as possible. There are many similarities between “real food” and “traditional food” and the terms are often used interchangeably.

God and Grains

  • God told Adam he would toil and work the earth to survive. (Gen 3:17)
  • Joseph saved the nations by storing grain to prepare for the famine. (Gen 41)
  • The Israelites in slavery were commanded to rid the house of leaven and eat unleaved bread for the feat of the Passover, a tradition Jews also continue to this day. (Ex 12)
  • The prophet Elijah lived for a year on bread in the home of a widow. (1 Kings 17)
  • Christ said, “I am the Bread of Life.”  (Jn 6)
  • After the Resurrection, Christ’s followers recognized Him in the breaking of the bread. (Lk 24:30)  He had bread on the fire in Jn 21:9 when He greeted His best friends, the apostles.

Amy @ Homestead Revival reminded me that God didn’t say to Adam, “Go hunt for your food.” The first animal was killed in the Garden of Eden as a result of man’s sin (to make clothing for Adam and Eve in their shame, Gen 3:21). That was also the point of agriculture, biblically, when Adam’s punishment for the Fall included, “By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat.”  He had to toil in the fields over the cursed ground, just as Eve now had pain in childbirth. Both man and woman have to labor to bear fruit. Neither is the original intent of our Creator, but consequences of our disobedience.

The first animal was given to man as food when the covenant was reestablished after Noah disembarked from the ark. God was starting over with His stiff-necked, sinful people, and in the new creation after the flood, yet another consequence of humanity’s sin included the death of more creatures:  “Every creature that is alive shall be yours to eat; I give them all to you as I did the green plants.”  (Gen 9:3)

The Scriptures are full of references to grains, many, many more than I have noted here. Clearly being solely meat eaters was not in the original perfect plan (but neither was tilling the soil.)  Grains have staked their place as a traditional food and meant for our consumption. The question remains: How to prepare them? On this, the Bible doesn’t exactly read like a recipe book. Here are some others’ viewpoints on the subject:

1. In The Maker’s Diet, the author claims that ancient ways of harvesting grain allowed the grains to germinate or sprout in the field. Sue Becker has a flawless and to the point rebuttal in her Phytic Acid: Friend or Foe? which is really a must-read. The bottom line? You can’t store damp or germinating seeds. They’ll rot. UPDATE: Kimi of The Nourishing Gourmet makes a good point in the comments. You can in fact store germinated grains, as long as they’re dehydrated first. I just don’t see that in the quote Sue Becker is challenging. Does anyone have The Maker’s Diet to see if drying or dehydrating is mentioned in the description of the “ancient” practice? What I’m interested in here is valid proof that soaking grains is traditional, and I agree with Becker that this particular quote doesn’t prove it. That’s not to say it’s not an ancient practice, just that allowing grains to germinate in the field without drying them out wouldn’t work.

2. Sue Becker also explores the historical references to soaking grains and finds none. She found some fascinating information on the health benefits and potential storage/purposes for sprouting grains that I’ll share with you in a few weeks. She closes her very thorough article with this compelling point:

Throughout the Bible, bread is considered a symbol of healing or the presence of God. Jesus compared Himself to bread because bread, made from freshly milled whole grains is life giving and life sustaining. As the days become more and more evil, Jesus will be attacked in any and every way. If the life giving bread to which Jesus compares Himself, can be brought into question, then the very name of Jesus and His saving power can be more easily discredited as well.

3. Wardeh at GNOWFGLINS also published a very thorough exploration of the Bible’s references to grains in a 7-minute audio file (some is in text form) called Grain Use in History. (If you’re ready to learn some traditional foods techniques, be sure to check out her new eCourse, which will teach you step-by-step how to increase your family’s basic nutrition. Click here to register!)

4. Sue Gregg points out that the Old Testament Hebrews ate bread with natural leaven most of the time – what we call sourdough bread – but that for Passover, unleavened bread was the rule. Connecting Scripture with science, she points out that the chelating effects of phytates – that the same property that causes minerals to be bound up and unavailable to our bodies also removes toxins and heavy metals – may have served as a spring cleaning of sorts, “a natural time for fasting, a practice that encourages detoxification.”  Once  a year is just about right for something like that.

Note: Sourdough bread, although not all the flour is soaked overnight in the “sponge” that Sue Gregg talks about, is still a very recognized technique for making grains more digestible. The long rising time ends up slightly fermenting even the flour that is added in the morning.

Use Grains as the Author Intended Them

You’ll hear from a scientist in the next Food for Thought who claims that whole grains are an expensive source of fiber, and nothing more. He would choose white bread. I have a hard time buying that this is what God intended. With every other food, notably eggs and dairy, I often claim that what God created whole, we humans shouldn’t be taking apart. I can only believe that the same holds true for grains. Whole grains may need a little help to be super nutritious, but there’s got to be a way for them to nourish us. God wouldn’t sabotage us like that.

Coming Up…

I have emails out to three food science researchers at universities. I’m hoping I’ll hear back by Wednesday night! My notes from conversations with Sally Fallon and a grains PhD researcher from Australia take up eleven pages, and I have Amanda Rose’s Phytate White Paper to help me sift through some food science literature. (Thank you, Amanda!)

I am also picking through a scholarly research article called “Phytate in foods and significance for humans: Food sources, intake, processing, bioavailability, protective role and analysis.” Aren’t you glad it’s me and not you? Maybe I should just research grains as my sacrifice for Lent. !! I’m just hoping I can distill that down into a reasonable sound byte for you by Thursday. Polish off your thinking caps, boys and girls; you’re going to need them!

Speaking of sacrifice, Ash Wednesday is tomorrow. Check out Mama Says for a Meatless Meals carnival to link up your recipes and get some good ideas.

Sacrifice hurts. We are called to take up our crosses and follow Christ. Where did He go? To die…kind of like this wheat.

“In all truth I tell you, unless a wheat grain falls into the earth and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest.” (Jn 12:24)

If you’re blogging anything about Lent, please consider sharing with others and linking up here.

Get caught up with a handy list of all the soaking grains information.

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Photo sources by: alles-schlumpf and exper.

Cross posted at Musings of a Housewife’s What I Learned This Week and of course in Cheeseslave‘s Real Food Wednesday.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

73 thoughts on “Food for Thought: Is Soaking Grains “Traditional”?”

  1. One exception to what you said about not separating what God has put together, might be butter. Cream is separated from milk to make butter, which is mentioned the Bible. Jesus is mentioned in Isaiah 7:15 as eating butter and honey. For that matter, cheese maybe too, which separates the whey out of the milk. What do you think?

    1. Very good point, Reidun! Ultimately though, if being a good steward, you’d use the why and buttermilk for something else (or I suppose feed it to the pigs in a proper farm environment). So maybe the question is — which part of the wheat would get tossed to the pigs, the white flour or the bran? 😉

  2. Maybe the best research would be to do it yourself. Hear me out! Take a small area of yard, grow some grains and try to store them. I thought I was drying things right with some herbs and peppers. Turns out there has to be more than just stringing them up and letting them go, lol. I also agree that whole grains are best. Things closer to the way they are grown are best (including butter over margarine!). I see so many health problems in my husband, who was deprived of a balanced, whole food diet while growing up due to severe poverty. I can’t help but wonder how much better his life could be. We weren’t much better off growing up, but dad insisted we have fresh fruit and vegetables. He always told mom he couldn’t take the money with him when he dies. Thanks for your research. Oh, and I have no health issues btw.

  3. Katie, Love reading your research and like probably many others, I feel like I know you through them and that we have been on this journey together. To the point that I catch myself relating something you wrote as “My friend Katie said…”???? I think one of the points to take away about whether or not the Hebrews/Ancient people groups allowed their grains to sprout in the fields is not about storing them for human consumption alone. It is instead that you cannot sprout a seed then wait a year to plant it. They would need to have seed for next season’s crop. As Sue points out and any agrarian Mama can testify, rain at harvest time is NOT a good thing.

    1. Wanted to add…while I am all about trying to feed my family in the best way possible…as a Christian I have to wonder, in this crazy messed up GMO, Big Pharma etc. world….how much do we have to leave in the Lord’s hands. The other day we were low on groceries and with 6 kids including a new baby and no air conditioning, and no running water in our under construction house, I told the Lord I needed some help with breakfast ideas that didn’t heat the house up….He provided a neighbor stopping by with a box full of different kinds of cold cereal (a big no no at our house) leftover from the local bible camp….What was a Mama to do? I said Thank You to the neighbor and to the Lord, although I just didn’t understand… So this morning for breakfast I will feed it to my precious little ones and we will put it up on a shelf in the pantry for another day when Mama needs to be rescued. My own Mama always relates how when my sister and I were small, the only meat she could afford sometimes was 50 cent pkgs of hotdogs so she prayed over them and served them. You and I both know that a hot dog is still a hot dog but God is still God and he meets us where we are.

  4. Wow! Thank you! I just read ONE of your articles and I’m very impressed and thankful that you are doing all this difficult research! I just found you and want to sign up for your blog. Thanks again!

  5. Something to consider in all of this (I realize this is very late lol), is that what GOD intended for our food, was His perfect plan for our bodies. HOWEVER, MAN has adulterated our foods. Through processing, and etc, but also through scientific modifications. We have GMOs to consider, and other hybrids and modifications that weren’t part of God’s plan. These mods have made many foods dangerous. Grains being one of them. So, in deciding to grain/not to grain/to soak grain one must consider that what we have to work with is often WAY different than what those of the bible had to work with. It may be best to avoid some altogether, as they are no longer what God created. And others it may be best to try and make better digestable (soaking), etc. Just a thought I consider when feeding my family…what am I working with? :0)

  6. Three years later … almost to the day (Ash Wednesday was yesterday!) … one of the best blog articles I’ve read on this subject. From the time I really started reading Nourishing Traditions, most of what it said lined up with everything I studied in bio-anth and archaeology. Humans are fundamentally omnivores; and grains have been the foundation of most people groups’ diets for at least 6000 years. How far “we” took fermentation really boiled down both to the grain involved and the culture of the people.

    As for the Biblical element … thank you for pointing out the Feast of Unleavened Bread. That is something else I was pondering the whole time I read NT: God would not command us to do something that was bad for us. However, it also suggests that unless the Israelites were in a hurry, the rest of the year they consumed their bread at least in a fermented form.

    Another thing to ponder with the whole “meat and grains” conundrum … something that has given me confidence in eating is remembering that Christ Himself is/was “the Lamb without blemish.” He COULD NOT consume anything that was potentially bad for His body (for He had to be without flaw even on the microscopic level where human eyes could not see). We know from the Biblical narrative at least that He consumed both bread and fish. Grains and meat. Fundamentally, then , these cannot do harm – at least in the form God intended them to be consumed. 😉

  7. People ate meat long before grains were even a thought in humanity’s mind, long before agriculture, longer than we even had discovered fire and how to use fire for our own purposes. The idea that humans ate breads and grains before eating meat is ridiculous, it’s scientifically shown and proven that we were all once hunter-gatherers eating meat and nuts and berries and vegetables. Sorry to burst all your bubbles.

    1. Kyra, I don’t think the author and readers here are addressing this from a conventional evolutionary point of view. And even so, there’s a problem with the phrase, “it’s scientifically shown and proven that …” Because when it comes to the paleolithic record, we really have no PROOF. We only have critical deduction based on asumption.
      Ironically, what we DO have proof of in the archaeological record is that 1) the earliest evidence of both horticulture (grains) and animal domestication (ironically, canid) both are located in the Fertile Crescent, supporting the Biblical narrative; 2) there was no capacity for civilization (from cooperative construction to written language) until the advent of agriculture; and 3) the earliest evidence of agriculture is dated to approximately 10,000 years ago (give or take a millenia), which again agrees with the Biblical narrative.
      As for the idea that “we were all once hunter-gatherers” … yes, Homo erectus and the australopithecines were indeed omnivorous hunter-gatherers. As were Homo sapiens neandertalensis. However, none of these species were technically the same as modern humans. We really don’t know how the “first” modern humans lived. Tool technology existant in the record suggests simultaneous and spontaneous lifestyles simply erupting … again, out of the Fertile Crescent (the land of Ur). And frankly, we don’t know when we discovered fire (and how that aligns with the emergence of modern humans) … all we know is that we somehow did. Because we obviously had it by the time we were building the megaliths (which we also don’t talk about in the world of serious archaeology because we can’t for the life of us explain how they were built).
      First rule of archaeological method and theory: we can’t burst anyone’s bubbles without first bursting our own. It’s a science of frustration: questions only lead to more questions, and we have precious little evidence of anything.

  8. Beth Steenwyk – that’s what I would do! Still better than white flour, although you know some would say to mix it 50/50 anyway. There’s no perfect answer – just go with your conscience. One though I heard recently from a local friend: she bought freshly ground flour from a bakery! I never would have thought to check…

  9. Bethany via Facebook

    Wonderful! Thanks for sharing. I appreciate your digging thru the archives.

    This was also a FABULOUS idea:
    http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/seriescarnivals/soaking-grains-an-exploration/

  10. Jennifer Duffey

    Hi, I have enjoyed your blog and you are writing about a subject now that has been my question all along. I am belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We have a code of health in our church that we believe comes from God. Its called the Word of Wisdom. I know you are not LDS, but it might be worth looking over. I think there is a lot of wisdom to be found there. Here, I’ll even give you a link:

    http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/89?lang=eng

    The scriptures are so full of both symbol and reality. Its clear that ancient people ate bread, else why would Jesus be said to be the Bread of Life. My heart and tummy tells me white bread is just not quite right. As I make more bread myself–homemade–I feel like I grow closer to my Savior, especially sourdough. I can go through the lengthy steps–grinding the wheat–making a starter and then the work to make a loaf of bread–comparable to the lengthy patience needed to read, ponder, pray and slowly grow closer to my Savior. Also comparable to the process of missionary work–patiently working, helping, standing strong, teaching, preaching. There are so many physical and spiritual applications–the Spirit touches my heart and really makes preparing food a wonder and a beauty.

    Thank you for sharing!!
    This is what I have waited and hoped for!!

  11. Beth via Facebook

    I would like someones opinion on soaking store bought whole wheat flour. Is it worth it? I am not in a position to buy a grain mill right now and I can’t find a better source of flour than the grocery store (ugh).

  12. Megan via Facebook

    I have been praying through this issue. Thanks for the research you have shared! I still don’t know where I stand! : )

  13. This was a very insightful article. I have the Maker’s Diet and on page 137 Dr. Rubin says, “These foods can be difficult to digest unless they are consumed in their ‘predigested form’ (i.e., after they have been soaked, sprouted, and/or fermented).” “To eat carbohydrateds the Maker’s way, only include whole-grain products in your diet that have been properly treated through soaking, sprouting, or fermenting that converts disaccharides to monosaccharides, and that reduces or eliminates phytates, which are not easily digested and can actually cause nutrient deficiencies.” On page 139, “Before the advent of mass-manufacturing processes, it was common for long-lived peoples to soak their grains overnight and then allow them to dry in the open air until they were partially germinated or sprouted, or to go through an ancient leavening process. From these grains they made breads and other foods.” Now here’s something interesting: “‘Studies show that these extruded whole grain preparations can have even more adverse effects on the blood sugar than refined sugar and white flour!'” So, it’s not that grains are bad, it’s not preparing the grains that is bad. And yes, the Egyptians had diseases, but they were inflicted up them by God because of their pagan worship and unethical lifestyles.

    Personally, I began looking into all of this because some things didn’t jive. God made grains for us to eat and they’re not good for us? Doesn’t jive at all. Now finding out we’ve not been preparing them properly and that’s what is not good for us completely jives. Somewhere along the line we changed and I believe it was done because someone in the bakery didn’t know their history or understand why people soaked grains. In their “smartness” they decided to cut labor costs and have only one shift of workers versus the two they needed initially. The first shift, which was at night, was for soaking the grains, and the second shift was for making the breads. So they wanted to save in personnel costs by cutting out the first shift. This cut has cost many people their health.

    Now my question is when did all this begin. I read this somewhere in my research and the story stuck. I think it was in the 1900’s. I’m still searching my history and I’m sure others would like to know more about when all this changed. Anyone? In the meantime, I saw a couple links I’m going to check out above, but I don’t know if it will answer this.

    1. Thanks, Lori, your insights are very helpful! I would guess early 1900s/industrial revolution, too…although in LIttle House in the Big Woods, they make sourdough whole wheat sometimes and white flour often, too. 🙂 Katie

  14. Another interesting note…Einkorn wheat is supposedly the variety closest to the wheat of the bible. It purportedly has 35 times more Vitamin A (touted by Weston Price as a “super-nutrient” if you will) than modern wheat, as well as more lutein and protein. Could these factors possibly make sprouting/fermenting/soaking less or unnecessary? And also, is it likely that this plentiful Vitamin A would be greatly diminished during soaking, as it’s a fat-soluble vitamin and subject to oxidation once the grain is ruptured? Certainly some food for thought!

    Check out the nutritional comparison chart found at www.einkorn.com . Very thought-provoking!

    1. I have wondered the same thing, about the variety of wheat making the difference. Does anyone know more about this?

      1. Dawn,
        I know ancient forms like spelt and einkorn has less gluten, but they’re not necessarily lower in phytic acid than other forms – they’re still a seed, designed to be planted, not digested. My line of thinking says that it’s better to use the ancient, unadulterated form, but still prepare it in an ancient way as well, by sprouting or souring. 🙂 Katie

  15. I must say, I’m torn on this issue, as well…Even Dr. Price mentions in Nutrition and Physical Degeneration that when he fed boys at a mission they were given a whole wheat roll slathered with butter at each meal. He goes out if his way several times to mention that the flour was made fresh daily and prepared by milling wheat in a grinder. He makes NO reference to soaking, sprouting or dehydrating the grains prior to baking the rolls. Note that the children who ate one meal a day that included whole grains, bone broths, pastured meat, cooked veggies, cod liver, two glasses of raw milk and high vitamin butter oil had no cavities and their health improved during the period of the clinical trial. I’m just curious why he didn’t find the need to traditionally prepare the grains, and why the children’s health so greatly improved if unsoaked/unsprouted/unfermented grains are so harmful…

    And a point about Sue Becker…She is a devout Christian. If you question that, call her yourself or watch her cooking class videos online at www.Breadbeckers.com . She opens each class with a prayer, and has homeschooled all seven of her biological children and “led them in the ways of The Lord”…She is a woman who truly seeks Christ!

    1. JL,
      Very good point about Dr. Price…I think there is more than one healthy way to skin a cat/prepare bread! 😉

      I definitely respect Sue Becker and understand that she is a woman of God. I wish God would just send a memo about grains, right? 😉 Katie

    2. I think in health, there’s definitely an 80/20 principal. If you have a poor diet, just adopting the 20% of the principals that create 80% of the results will be enough to create much better health than you had.

      If you look at healthy people around the world (both individuals today and cultures of yesteryear), you’ll discover some of these 20% principals by looking at commonalities. All healthy diets tend to have: whole foods, high in minerals, grown from good soil, no processed ingredients, pure water, vegetables are the main food and other items (fruit, grains, nuts, meat) are secondary (with a few exceptions), moderate caloric intake, and daily strenuous exercise.

      Beyond that, you have the other 80% of the protocols that give 20% of the results, which might include (and I stress MIGHT, I’m not making statements about the importance of any protocol) things like fermented foods, soaked grains, sprouted foods, specific type of water, raw vs. cooked _____ (fill in the blank), only freshly harvested, 80-100% of all food eaten raw, cleanses, herbs, etc.

      Many people can attract great health by following the best 20% of the practices. But, maybe they could achieve vibrant health by choosing several of the other 80%. For others, due to poor digestion, genetics, autoimmune diseases, cancer, etc., it may be more imperative to explore many of the protocols that fall into the 80%.

  16. Here’s an interesting bit of evidence in favour of traditional soaking of grains: My friend’s mother was born in Holland in the 1930’s and she says she remembers seeing big vats full of grain soaking in water when she was a child. I wish I knew more about what else they did with grain.

  17. new to your blog, Katie, but thanks for the soaking research 🙂 definitely a BIG topic – will look forward to “To Soak or Not to Soak” lol

  18. Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet

    Hey Katie,

    Interesting read here! Just wanted to point out one thing. You said this:
    “Sue Becker has a flawless and to the point rebuttal in her Phytic Acid: Friend or Foe? which is really a must-read. The bottom line? You can’t store damp or germinating seeds. They’ll rot.”

    While I truthfully don’t know the historically backing for saying that germinated seeds did happen in the past, Sue Becker’s article isn’t flawless in this point (actually I think a lot of her article isn’t from a Christian viewpoint too!). I sprout seeds, and then I dry them…..and they don’t rot. It is possible to start the germinating process…..and then stop the process and that’s very possible when harvesting the grains too. She seems to have completely overlooked that.

    I read her article a long time ago, and it seems a little defensive because, like she said, she was worried that she had been teaching something wrong for so many years (eating unsoaked whole wheat). Because of that I don’t think her research was completely unbiased.

    I really appreciate Sue Gregg’s approach to the whole issue, not just because she ended up changing her cookbook to include a soaking process, but because she was willing to try something new. She had also taught eating unsoaked whole wheat a long time. But she had also found that some people suffered digestive issues with unsoaked whole wheat. I thought it was so humble for her to change what she had been teaching and saying for 20 years and add something new in! I admire that.
    .-= Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet´s last blog ..Pennywise Platter Thursday 3/4 =-.

    1. Kimi,
      Good point re: dehydration. I did update the post with this: I just don’t see that (the drying part) in the quote Sue Becker is challenging. Does anyone have The Maker’s Diet to see if drying or dehydrating is mentioned in the description of the “ancient” practice? What I’m interested in here is valid proof that soaking grains is traditional, and I agree with Becker that this particular quote doesn’t prove it. That’s not to say it’s not an ancient practice, just that allowing grains to germinate in the field without drying them out wouldn’t work.

      Kimi, I do think you’re probably right about Becker being a bit defensive, but at least she went to the medical/scientific research herself as well. I did not know about Sue Gregg’s changing her cookbook – fascinating! There is so much anecdotal evidence that soaking grains does something good…I am just on a hunt to find the scientific evidence and the “how to” as well. Thanks for sharing!
      🙂 Katie

      1. This has been my issue with Becker’s statement as well. I had some red lentils that were…possibly ancient…and they sprouted mini tails and stopped germinating in the pantry. They were sour and chewy when I cooked them. I don’t know what trauma they experienced in the pantry, but this experience has had a huge affect on my acceptance of the statement that ‘just like you can’t be partially pregnant, you can’t partially germinate’.
        As for the digestibility of unsoaked whole wheat, I’m bent towards the belief that this is from an over-exposure to wheat–beginning in-utero. There has been a rise in peanut allergies, and it could also be attributed to the fact that the most available nut butter we purchase regularly is made from peanuts (and who knows what else, but that’s a different topic). In Michael Pollan’s book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” he says that even when we don’t think we’re eating corn, parts of it are in many processed foods. Supposedly Americans’ hair samples show more corn intake than cultures who eat whole corn and corn tortillas as a mainstay in their diet.
        It’s all about moderation!

        1. Heather,
          I’m amazed that you cooked them, but I’m glad it worked out! I totally agree with you on moderation. Looks like you’ve been wandering around KS today – your comments add so much; you better stick with us! It’s great to have you – 😉 Katie

          1. Thanks Katie! Your kind words mean much to me. I appreciate your ministry to us ladies (and some men, though they hide). Keep up the good work, especially at home. Your family is blessed to have such a conscientious momma. 🙂

  19. Yes, yes, yes to Emily’s comment! I’d been stewing on Sue Becker’s article the past couple of days and it wasn’t settling well. When I came back to respond on my conclusions, I found that Emily had already done it for me…and much more eloquently! 🙂

  20. Thanks so much for looking into this more. YES – I think this counts as a sacrifice for Lent, as I know how much time research like this eats up.

    I would love to not feel so guilty for not soaking. 😉
    .-= Laurie N´s last blog ..Coconut Oil for Canker Sores? =-.

  21. Very interesting. I haven’t soaked grains, but I’ve cut way down on them since reading Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. As faddish as low-carb diets sound, there is some hardcore scientific research behind it that goes back to the 1800’s that I found very compelling. I’ve also been dabbling with the primal diet touted by Mark Sisson (www.marksdailyapple.com) and the more I read, the more I’m seeing that our bodies really aren’t designed to digest a lot of grains. I also see the effect taking them out of my diet has had on the way I feel, and it’s been a big positive change.
    That aside, I really wanted to comment on that quote by Sue Becker. Honestly, I think that is an awful interpretation of Scripture and she is taking the idea of Jesus being the Bread of Life WAY out of context. Yes, He said that, but it was a metaphor. He was trying to make a point by using what was incredibly familiar to the people He was teaching. He often used daily objects to communicate deep spiritual truths, it’s simply a good teaching strategy, not a once and for all declaration about the spirituality of eating bread. He also said He is the Door and the Way…He used many different ways to communicate the fact that He is Messiah, and that has nothing to do with our diets. I know that passage also relates to the Eucharist, and though I’m not Catholic, I have no qualms with the idea of the bread literally becoming His Body during the Eucharist…but I still think that has nothing to do with whether we eat grains as a regular part of our diet or not. She isn’t examining that verse in its original context or Jesus’ intended meaning behind it, and I really don’t like the idea that somehow our faith and allegiance to Him is being called into question when we question the health of grains.
    I think it is important to trace the historicity of food in different cultures, including the Bible, but we have to remember to differentiate what is descriptive and what is prescriptive in Scripture. Just because the Egyptians ate grain doesn’t mean it was healthy. They also had a lot of heart disease and cancer because of it. There are many things that God shows us through Scripture that He is not commanding us to do likewise, it’s simply a description of the culture it was written in. I think your pursuit of understanding grains is awesome, and I can’t wait to hear what you discover, but I hope we can all remember to read Scripture in its proper context and not stretch its meaning to suit our own purposes.

    1. If Jesus is only speaking metaphorically about being the Bread of Life, how do you explain John 6:51-52?

      “‘I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.’ The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’

      Jesus repeats in the following verses with even more emphasis:
      “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (John 6:53–56).

      Then the scriptures tell us that: “Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?’” (John6:60) and “After this, many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him” (John 6:66).

      If Jesus was only speaking metaphorically, why didn’t he call the disciples back to correct the misunderstanding?

      Furthermore, in Greek, the work that Jesus uses is “trogon” which means “to eat” and conveys the sense of chewing or gnawing.

      In John 10:9 and John 15:1 when Jesus says “I am the door” and “I am the true vine” respectively, there is not a connection to what he is saying in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life.”
      The two former are metaphorical, but the last is not.

      ——-

      Sue Becker’s conclusion gave me pause to think b/c I have heard a similar argument when studying the Theology of the Body that when you see the extent to which the understanding of sexuality has been turned upside down and inside out in our culture, you might venture a guess on how precious it really is, which is why the Devil wants to attack it.

      It’s the first time I ever read about an attack on “bread” (grains, carbs, what have you) as an indirect attack on Jesus, but I think it is worth pondering. That isn’t to say that individuals who eat low carb/grain free have any less faith in Christ, but just take a look at it more from a big picture perspective – if “bread is bad” in a manner of speaking, then what does that mean for the importance of “The Bread of Life?”

      1. In order to understand Jesus’ words, you have to put it in the proper context of what had just happened earlier in the chapter. Jesus was teaching and the people were hungry… they found a boy with some food, fish and bread, and He multiplied the bread to feed the 5,000 people. This led to a situation where the people followed Jesus to another location, and He basically told them, “you’re only looking for me because I fed you yesterday, not because you’re impressed by miraculous signs.” He told them, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ”
        Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”

        The conversation about bread began because Jesus had fed them with bread. They kept seeking Him for more, and He told them that they shouldn’t be seeking something so temporary as food for their bodies, but food for their souls. They said that Moses had fed them bread from heaven and asked what miraculous sign He would perform for them, and Jesus said that God is the one who gave bread from heaven, the bread that gives life to the world. They still didn’t quite get what he was talking about, thinking he was talking about literal bread, so Jesus went on to explain that He was the bread. “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” And then He goes on to talk about being the Messiah sent from God and how they still do not believe in Him. Then they start to get it because in verse 42 they say, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” A few verses later He continues: ” No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
        And THEN He goes into the verses you quoted. When you take a look at the whole context of those verses, you can see that the main point Jesus was communicating was that He is the Messiah sent by God. By calling Himself the Bread of Life, He is becoming a New Covenant type of the Old Covenant manna from heaven. Just as God provided bread for the body in the OT, He is now providing “bread” for the soul through Jesus. If we eat this bread, we will not die but have everlasting life and never go hungry again. That is the metaphor. Jesus has no interest in this passage in telling us what kind of diet we should have, whether or not we should eat grains. His purpose in these words is that we would believe that He is the One sent by God, that He will give His very body for the world/us, and if we satisfy ourselves in Him, we will be satisfied forever. His incarnation into a physical body is the miraculous sign from God that He is the Messiah. The whole concept of bread came about because 1. He used bread to feed the 5000 because they were hungry 2. That led to a discussion about miraculous signs and how Moses fed the people manna (bread) from heaven and what miraculous signs would Jesus show 3. Jesus told them that He is the “new” bread from heaven, but not one that will spoil, one that is everlasting and will never let them hunger again. That is the metaphor.
        Granted, like I said before, I’m not Catholic, so it is easier for me to understand these words outside of a Eucharistic mindset. However, I have no problem with the idea that the bread literally becomes His body and a way that He gives us grace when we eat it, hence the “chewing and gnawing.” But whether you believe that or not, the main point of this passage is His Messiahship, not a statement on whether or not we should eat grains.
        .-= Emily´s last blog ..For Lent =-.

        1. Emily and Sarah,
          Think it’s possible for me to agree with you both and not be crazy? I found myself nodding my head as I read both of your comments. Yes, “type” of OT manna, Yes, He would have called people back to re-explain what He meant, yes, yes, yes. The bread is a metaphor for Jesus’s messiahship and at the same time, a reality of Eucharist that we continue to celebrate. Emily, there’s a little lost Catholic in you crying to get out! You write beautifully on a very Catholic verse (Scott Hahn called this chapter a “blip” chapter b/c he used to just “blip” over it when he didn’t get it as a Protestant.)

          My hunch about this bread thing is that certainly Christ was not teaching nutrition in this vital sermon, but that He was trying to use an image that would be equally valid throughout time. We still recognize bread. We know what it is. It crosses cultures and countries, as long as one extends “bread” to being other grain products like tortillas.

          Would Christ have wanted to choose something deathly UHhealthy as the central image in a vital teaching? I don’t think He’s saying “eat bread, it’s good for you,” but I think we can reasonably deduce that bread shouldn’t be something we never eat again.

          Does that make any sense at all? We’re all daughter of the King, doing our best in a fallen world..
          🙂 Katie

          1. Good way to wrap it up, Katie! =) And LOL to your comment about the little lost Catholic inside of me!!! Don’t think I haven’t thought of that before! For now I’m happy enough to be a non-typical Protestant with Catholic/Orthodox crossover ideas. But who knows…?! =)
            .-= Emily´s last blog ..For Lent =-.

            1. I believe both of you are right on some points.
              I believe scripture teaches that Jesus was comparing bread: the life sustaining source for our physical bodies to Him, being the everlasting life sustaining source (Savior) of our spiritual bodies. His body that was broken and the blood that he shed on the cross is what we need to “eat and drink” (trust in) for “everlasting life” in him, as our Savior for the forgiveness of our sin which he paid for with his life. He died to set us free from the penalty of death. His death bariel and resurrection is what we are trusting in to give us life everlasting and through Jesus Christ only.
              The martred Christians took the communion seriously. They didn’t believe in infant baptism and were rebaptized after their
              “new birth conversion” and they refused to take the Catholic cummunion. During communion, the priest would command Jesus Christ to come down from the crusifix cross on the wall and into the eucherist bread wand for the people to eat.
              The attack on Jesus’ name, the two ordinances he told us to keep. (Baptism and communion) and the very authority of the Bible is under attack.
              We eat both sprouted and unsprouted bread. I believe they both have benefits from what I have researched.
              I appreciate the freedom to share here what I believe.

  22. Kelly the Kitchen Kop

    Katie, YES, I very much AM glad it’s you and not me. It is super time-consuming to dig this deep into a topic!

    However, I got going and my comment here became way too long so I think I will do a post on this but refer people back here as the story unfolds.

    Thanks!
    Kelly
    .-= Kelly the Kitchen Kop´s last blog ..How to Make Homemade Potato Chips (Real Food Wednesday) =-.

  23. Great thoughts! I’ve wondered about soaking, having read an article or two that questions the need for it. I’ve gathered from what Sue Becker says, that using freshly ground flour is a key part of using grains in a healthy way; otherwise, the phytic acid isn’t balanced by the phytase that the fresh flour still has. I got a grain mill for Christmas and am using it pretty regularly; when I’m not making sourdough bread, I’m using fresh flour. I’m planning to delve into sprouting grains and drying them so we can have sprouted flour– which will take care of any question of phytic acid. I think.

    Thank you for continuing this search for accurate information. I’ve pondered these same questions and appreciate your time and effort and sharing. It helps!

  24. Katie,

    Sue Beckers article was amazing! That was completely enough for me to realize that I wasn’t just feeling silly soaking grains that the Holy Spirit was telling me, “what are you doing?” I do sprout grains and will continue to use interchangeably with my freshly milled grains. Great overview!
    .-= [email protected]´s last blog ..Kelly’s Cake Off For A Cause and Cookie Giveaway From Me! =-.

  25. Lots of research Katie!

    I think the one thing that I’ve come to realize in the last few years is just to take everything with a grain of salt and don’t eat too much of any one thing. Most of the time, if I make breads or tortillas or crackers, I make it with sourdough. Sometimes I use whole grain, sometimes white flours. And if I make a quick bread (muffins, etc.) or cookies, they are rarely soaked simply because I haven’t had much luck with soaked quick breads. But I don’t make them all that often.

    Anyway, looking forward to reading your conclusions!

    Best,
    Sarah
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Two Thai Soups =-.

  26. Laura @ Rejoicing Evermore

    Very interesting! Thank you for sharing your research.

    I wonder, have you done any researching into the difference between the grains they ate then and what we eat now? I have heard that as we try to improve the grain (even my not GM) we end up losing a lot, such as, that corn used to have 30% more protein then it does now. (supposedly)

    I have also heard that spelt, it what we call wheat today. But that doesn’t make any sense since the Bible clearly states in Ezekiel 4:9 wheat and fitches (amongst other grains). I looked up fitches and they are spelt. (if my source is correct)

    Which reminds me that you didn’t mention the grains in this verse in your section of “God and Grains”

    The grains Ezekiel 4:9 mentions are:

    wheat
    barley
    millet
    spelt

    also beans and lentils.
    .-= Laura @ Rejoicing Evermore´s last blog ..Adventures in Traditional Cooking: Kefir Cream Cheese =-.

    1. It’s really interesting that you bring up the other grains. I can’t help wondering if some of our digestive issues with grains has to do with the fact that we eat wheat and corn, and that’s about it for most of us. I told a friend the other day that if we started eating broccoli at every single meal, we’d probably develop some sort of issue with it as well! I think it’s good to remember that God gave us a wonderful variety of foods to choose from, grains and otherwise!
      .-= April´s last blog ..2 years ago… =-.

      1. Which friend might that have been?? *wink* Did you see that I ordered spelt from the co-op?

        I just had this conversation with my anti-grain husband last night. He didn’t like it but couldn’t fight it. haha!
        .-= Anjanette´s last blog ..Spaghetti Without the Noodles! =-.

        1. I was only out of town for two days, Anjanette–I can’t believe you missed me so much you’re stalking me at someone else’s blog! lol
          .-= April´s last blog ..2 years ago… =-.

    2. *sheepishly entering into the friendly disagreement* Laura, I read somewhere–maybe it was this site, who knows–that eating grains and legumes together makes for a complete protein. How’s that for vindication from science? Ha! I’m still not sure about it, though. I also read that eating protein and carbs together creates a poison in you digestive system so…life’s a crazy mess of information. As Michael Pollan has said, we need to stop asking scientists what to eat. *sigh* 🙂

  27. Hallelujah! Maybe we can all come to a good conclusion, so i know what to eat. Thank you so much!

  28. a big thanks for all your reasearch on the subject of grains – I esp. am concerned about where if bread is bad for you, then Jesus, our Bread of Life would also be discredited.

    I am just learning about this real-food stuff and am getting so much good information from your blog, Thank you for all of it,

    and you might be interested to look at my latest blog post and see the fake pimentos I found in hubby’s olives – crazy what those food manufacturers will do
    .-= Rhonda´s last blog ..pimento flavored jelly beans in the olives, really now…. =-.

  29. Just a quick note of interest: I recently read the book “Heat” by Bill Buford, about various cooking apprenticeships he had. During one in Italy, he VERY extensively researched the history of pasta. The very first pasta recipe on record, he found. . . the noodles were SOAKED. It’s not significant to the book or the author, but I thought it was pretty cool 🙂

  30. Wow! I am new to the whole NT way of cooking (about a month) and like you I completely accepted the whole soaking process. But that article by Sue Becker is very thoughtful and has many good points. Thank you for exploring this issue so thoroughly. It can all be so confusing!

  31. I am so thankful you are posting this. Can’t wait to see the rest of the series. I bought the WAP information hook, line and sinker as well and have read the Bread Beckers article on it as well (and dismissed it). So hard to try to do what is right. I look forward to the conclusions you reach. It will be good to get to the bottom of this.

  32. I can’t wait to hear more on this topic! Somehow I can’t believe that all grains are bad since they are talked about as a good thing in the Bible.

    Think about Noah and his family on the ark. They likely were not eating meat during that time. I would be more inclined to think they at high-quality grains and beans, and perhaps eggs.

    1. If Noah and his family were not eating meat, I wonder why God told them to take seven pairs of all the clean animals (the edible ones) and only one pair of the not clean animals (Genesis 7). Maybe it was to feed the carnivorous animals, but maybe for Noah’s family, too.

      1. I don’t think any of the animals were meant for food on the ark. God tells Noah to take food for himself and and the animals when he tells him to build the ark. Perhaps he needed the extra time to gather all the food. Then just before the flood God tells Noah to take 2 of some kinds of animals and 7 of others. Taking food and what animals to take are different commands. Noah used some of the clean animals to make a sacrifice to God afterwards and beyond that it says not. I wonder if perhaps God wanted to give the clean animals and birds the advantage of multiplying faster than the unclean animals.
        There were no carnivorous animals at this time. The creation story tells us that God gave the trees with fruits and every herb bearing seed to man as food. To the animals God gives every green herb.

        1. Yes, Heather, you are right. Katie pointed out above that it was not until after the flood that God gave us animals to eat. I should have noticed that. Thanks for the correction!

  33. Wow, Katie! You’re going all out on this series. Thank you for gathering this info for us.

    Another source you may want to consider is “Conscious Eating” by Gabriel Cousens, M.D.
    He’s another author who advocates vegetarian, vegan, and raw vegan diets. So, if that is an issue, people don’t have to read on. 😉

    Here are some things I’ve gathered from this text:

    1. As grain consumption increases, the body begins to produce the phytase enzyme in the intestines to release the calcium and zinc from the phytate binding. But, if one has an existing zinc deficiency, the body can’t create the phytase. So, zinc needs to come from other sources in the diet than just grains. (pp. 473 and 477)

    2. Research has shown that with bread, “the enzyme phytase became active and liberated the bound-up calcium from the phytic acid bonds during the rising of the bread.” (p. 473)

    2. From page 567: “The way the body eliminates phytates seems to mirror the general way the body handles most of these naturally occurring, seemingly adverse factors in our food. If they are taken into the system in small enough quantities, our bodies usually have the enzymatic systems to protect us from these substances’ potential negative effects.”

    3. The chelating effect of the phytates and fiber in grains can also prevent absorption of (and possibly remove) radioactive elements from the body. (pp. 608-609)

    4. Soaking, sprouting, and consuming raw sprouted grains are generally advocated as the best practice. (p. 567, 686, & elsewhere)

    1. Jason,
      Thank you again for adding excellent info to what I have so far. A quick question, as I’m finding not all soaking is created equal: how does this author describe the art of soaking? Whole grain berries or flour? Toss the soak water or not? Acidic medium or just water?

      Thank you!! Katie

  34. As to whether whole grains are healthier — I remember reading somewhere (Nourishing Traditions?) that the Egyptians used to mill their grain. The poor got the whole wheat, and the upper class got to eat the sifted flour — the white flour only. The result? Pharaohs and priests had stunted growth and bone deformities that it doesn’t seem the peasants suffered from. Their “special” food actually made them less healthy. That was enough to convince me that white flour wasn’t the best way to go (though I admit I still do use it).
    .-= Sheila´s last blog ..Frozen Yogurt =-.

  35. Wow, thanks for taking so much time and effort to sort this out for us!! I’m still pretty much brand new to the whole concept of sprouting/soaking grains, so I hope this will clarify things before I jump in too deep with it all! Looking forward to hearing more about it!

  36. Great info! All this grain talk makes my head spin but I am very grateful to you for sorting it all out for us. BTW-I consulted my grandmother because on the Real Food Face Off most of the bloggers say they eat like their grandmothers would have, that is what Michael Pollan said to eat like (if your grandmother wouldn’t recognize it, don’t eat it), etc. It made me very curious for what my grandmother did eat when she was a child and what she remembered her grandparents eating. I just wanted to clarify that I found her comments interesting but I do realize that she is only one source in a sea of millions of sources. Thanks again for the help with sorting this out!
    .-= Morgan Conner´s last blog ..Thank You! =-.

  37. So interesting!! I hadn’t taken the time to think through the chronology of when God gave us certain foods in relation to the fall. Makes me wonder if, in God’s sovereignty, He made us equally able to digest produce, grains, and meat, or if we should really be concentrating on the foods we were designed for before sin entered the world?
    .-= Anjanette´s last blog ..Menu Plan Monday =-.

    1. Wow. Read the Sue Becker article. Very interesting! I think her conclusion which you quote is some real “food” for thought!

  38. I bow down in gratitude and awe!! Can’t wait to hear more, this is a topic I’ve had a lot of questions about. Thank you for all the work you are putting into this!!

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