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Nava Ratzon

Bread: Staple of our forefathers or demon of our time?

A golden wheat field. (iStock)
A golden wheat field. (iStock)

“Do you think bread is healthy?”

As a registered dietician, I get asked this a lot.

I recommend to my patients to include bread as a major part of their diet.

My patients always think I’m crazy. “ Bread is fattening and causes diabetes,” they say.

“Are you trying to make me fat?”

I believe that bread can be truly nourishing, but here’s the catch: as with everything, it has to be done right!

* * *

This Shavuot, as we celebrate the harvest of wheat, I want to take you back in time to discover the bread of our forefathers.

Our forefathers made no mistake. They chose a grain that is rich in nutritional value, and brought sustenance to the Jewish people and many other nations across the globe.

So how could it be that the staple food of our forefathers, wheat, has been named the demon of our generation?

Our forefathers were not eating packaged, sliced bread.

The bread that we buy today is manufactured with flavors, colors, preservatives, starches, and rising agents so that it will look tall and shiny on the shelf for weeks. Check the ingredients on your bread to see for yourself!

So what is the bread of our forefathers?

Sourdough of course! An extremely nutritious bread rich in vitamins and minerals, fibers, protein and healthy fats, that kept our forefathers nourished for hours!

When we throw away our chametz on Pesach, we aren’t throwing away store bought sliced  bread! We are throwing out “machmetzet,” the Hebrew word for sourdough starter, that has the same root as “chametz.”

Our forefathers chose wisely, they ate sourdough bread made of only four ingredients: flour, water, salt, and starter. And that’s what we should be eating too!

Chag Shavuot sameach, may this holiday bring joy, nourishment, and an appreciation for good bread!

About the Author
Nava Ratzon, RD, is a registered dietitian practicing in Israel with a specialty in eating disorder treatment. She helps women and teens transform their relationship with food in treatment and through hands-on sourdough and fermentation workshops. She resides on her family citrus farm in Moshav Azriel with her two girls, husband, and herd of goats.
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