the importance of Bread

Senza il pane tutti divento orfano.
"Without bread everyone's an orphan."
                                  -Italian proverb-

History, and the history of the food we eat, are inextricably intertwined. In many ways, modern societies have forgotten their culinary pasts, and as far as diet goes, at least, are being condemned by NOT repeating it. The central notion of The Diet Code is to remember and reapply what we once knew, the same way Da Vinci caught hold of ancient math and deployed it in even the most forward-thinking of his projects. One of the best examples of our skewed relationship with food is they way we think about carbohydrates and especially about bread. Let’s start there.

Bread embodies memories both personal and cultural. Just a whiff of fresh bread can easily transport you to particular times and places in your own life. Likewise whole cultures know themselves by their bread: tortilla, biscuit, pita, nan, vollkornbrot, baguette, focaccia, matzoh, johnnycake, injera and on and on. Bread is a hallmark of a people. At the center of any community, with the same pride of place as a house of worship, there will be a bakery.

Take away the bread, and the center will not hold.

Lately bread has gotten a bad rap, and many fad diets have suggested cutting bread out of our menus entirely. That’s a mistake – we need a wide variety of natural foods to sustain us, and as you’ll see when you read more about The Diet Code, BREAD IS BACK!

It’s not coincidence that we find greater satisfaction in a handmade, traditional loaf of bread than in a plastic-wrapped loaf at the supermarket. The same happens when we choose whole, fresh, real food of any kind. It’s always better than pre-fab, overly processed, or fake. You know it, and your body knows it. That’s why eating the real thing is one of the core themes of The Diet Code. Peak physical and mental condition requires a balance of macronutrients, including carbs. And so does a permanently trim waistline.

A Brief History...

Societies throughout history have been founded on grain and carbohydrate based diets much like The Diet Code. It took tens of thousands of years after modern humans emerged in the Black Sea region, bearing all-important language skills and advanced stone tools, before climate changes produced the final piece necessary to build great civilizations - the appearance of primitive forms of wheat.

As people learned to raise a variety of grains and other crops adapted to their place in the world, early forms of bread quickly followed. Making grain into bread – one of the earliest known foods requiring real preparation – heralded another stage in cultural development. Even in Neolithic times, nomadic tribes mixed water with cereal grains they crushed with stones, and cooked the resulting paste into flat cakes or hot stones over open fires. The earliest breads were like tortilla or chapatti – thin, unleavened leaves of mixed grains often baked on mounds of hot sand; cakes of wheat and barley parched in the desert sun have been traced to Jericho 8,000 years ago. Egypt later developed a precursor to leavened bread probably from partially sprouted grains. The first raised breads were baked in Egypt around 3000 BCE. (Excavations of ancient Egyptian tombs have revealed actual intact loaves baked over 5,000 years ago that you can see today in the British Museum!)

Human cultures around the planet have enjoyed bread ever since, each developing a signature bread based on grains and methods best suited to their particular climate and geography. In this way, bread signifies both our unity and diversity; all our ancestors made bread; all our ancestors made their own special kind of bread.


The loaf is an ancient representation of the human form. Both evolve from root words meaning "shaped of earth". The baker conjures a mythic connection hundreds of times a day--replaying the story of creation by mixing the elements of earth (as grain), water, air (leaven), and firing the loaves in oven heat. The very word baker means "learned shaper", sharing roots with mason and magician and further associations with the linguistic derivations of material, maternal and mother.

No wonder the Italians insist on a familial bond with bread!

In this Section

About Bread
The Golden Ratio
Real Food



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