Help! I’m Allergic to Bread

Reader Contribution by Heidi Hunt

Well – at least that’s how it seems. During the last year, I have developed gluten intolerance. No more chocolate chip cookies, or peanut butter toast or Saturday morning pancakes …

I’m discovering that I’m not alone in my misery, that there are thousands of people just like me for whom the consumption of wheat-based products is just not a good thing. So, I’ve been wondering what it is that is different about today’s wheat that is causing so many people’s digestive tract to react negatively? Could it be that the “modernizing” of the wheat, the breeding changes that have happened over the decades, has actually changed the chemistry of the gluten?

I recently read an article from The Wall Street Journal (March 15, 2011, Clues to Gluten Sensitivity, in which Joseph A. Murray, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. says, “People aren’t born with this. Something triggers it and with this dramatic rise in all ages, it must be something pervasive in the environment.” One possible culprit: agricultural changes to wheat that have boosted its protein content.”

If “modernizing” the wheat is the problem, then perhaps finding a flour made from an heirloom wheat might be the solution. Enter Turkey hard red winter wheat. Here is a bit of history from the Heartland Mills website on this wheat that is currently being grown around Lawrence, Kan., which makes it a local food find for me!

“Turkey variety hard red winter wheat was introduced to Kansas in 1873, carried by Mennonite immigrants from Crimea in the Ukraine, fleeing Russian forced military service. The Mennonite history relates that this seed was carefully hand selected for the soundest kernels and packed in the luggage of the immigrants on their long journey to new farms in a new and distant land. These farm families gave us more than seed – they also carried with them the agricultural knowledge and skills necessary for this crop to be successful in Kansas – where the climate and soils were much like in their lands in the Ukraine.”

I acquired 10 pounds of the Turkey unbleached white flour from Heartland Mills, shared a bit with a friend who is similarly afflicted, and set out to make a lovely loaf of crusty artisan bread. I could hardly wait for the bread to cool enough to cut and slather with some lovely butter. Voila, a loaf later, my innards were still happy. And my suffering friend experienced the same result — nothing — which is, of course, what we were hoping for.

I’ve now ordered 25 pounds of Turkey hard red winter wheat unbleached, white flour from Heartland Mills (the code for that item is T65) and anticipate many satisfying meals that include wheat-based products. It may not be gluten free, but for me it is gluten tolerant.

If you suffer from gluten intolerance and have found an heirloom wheat flour you can tolerate, please share the information in the comments section below.

Heidi Hunt was an Assistant Editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine.

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