Bread for the people - the history behind it

Bread for the people - the history behind it

Motto: “A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and you.” —Omar Khayyam

''- Bread for the people. This is our lesson for today, and i hope you are all ready for a fascinating trip through the history. 

30 thousand years ago, grinding stones were found in Europe and Australia, but there is no way to prove that they were used to make bread. Hunter-gatherers from Black Desert - Jordan used wild wheat, wild barley and plant roots, in a period dated 14600-11600 years ago, long before the agriculture started to be a thing. The first farmers to make bread are found in Neolithic, in Turkey and Europe, 9000 years ago. The first bread was close to what we call today flatbread, similar to Middle Eastern pita, Indian naan and Central American tortillas.


In Antiquity, Egyptians are some of the first to transform the bread making into an art, and we have artistic depictions, remains of structures and even items used in bread making, and remains of the dough and bread itself. My good friend Samuel even wrote a book named An archaeological study of baking and bread in New Kingdom Egypt for his doctoral thesis, explaining everything that i mentioned before. Back then, they will leave  a piece of dough (with sugar and water in) for one day, and this will be used as a sourdough base. Gauls and Iberians (the ancestors of French and Spanish people) used the foam skimmed from beer as a source for sugar and yeast, while Romans and Greeks used a different techniques, as they were winemakers, and did not have beer, producing a paste composed of grape must and flour let to ferment, or as an alternative wheat bran left in wine, as a source for yeast. The bread looked like in the picture bellow. 


Apparently the Greeks were the ones inventing the freestanding oven with a door for access, and they were doing mostly barley bread, using wheat for bread only in the feast days. They used to have a baker shop in Athens, making bread for the people, and in the second century Greek bakers start to expand their commerce, opening bakeries all over the world, including in Rome. Maybe you are familiar with the quote 'Panem et circenses!' - Bread and circuses. Except that back in the days, circus was the big arena where the gladiators would fight for their lives. But this expression meaning, in fact, is related to bread and games, attributed to the Roman poet Juvenal, and describing a way to rise to power by giving bread to the poorer people, while keeping them entertained, during elections. 


In the middle ages, bread was not only the meal, but also the plate. If you would have soup or casserole, you would use half of the bread as a trencher, and after you finished eating you would eat it, given to the poor or to their pets. The first wooden bowls did not appear until the 15th century. End everything was fine until the 19th century came, and the hell breaks loose. 


Another bread related famous quote in the history of mankind is Marie Antoinette  “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”—“Let them eat cake.”  answer, misquoted in 1789, when she was told that the French people had no bread to eat. Those few words condemned her to death, and the monarchy to an abrupt end, when the French Revolution started. But it was not her to say these words, because they started to go around much earlier, and it was most probably Marie Therese, a Spanish princess married to King Louis XIV in 1660, that said them first. Marie Antoinette was a sensible person, who often donated to charity and good causes. 

In the 19th century the bread was not really made for the people, as the breadmakers will often add hazardous materials trying to improve quality (chalk, plaster, sawdust, alum, clay, sand, iron flakes or ammonium carbonate). The 1860 and 1899 Food Adulteration Acts in Britain tried and partially succeeded to solve this problem, but in the United Stated was a bit more difficult, as the legislation was different from one state to another. As a side note, most of the wheat imported by England at the time was form United States, most probably Texas and surroundings. Remember, it was Benjamin Franklin who said  “Give me yesterday’s Bread, this Day’s Flesh, and last Year’s Cyder.”


20th century, the art of breadmaking is dying, and the industry of breadmaking appears. 1912 - Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented a prototype bread-slicing machine, and later, in 1928, improved his designs with a machine that both sliced and wrapped bread. In 1961, in UK, the Chorleywood bread process is discovered (consisting in the intense mechanical working of dough, and control of gases touching dough, to dramatically reduce the fermentation period and the time taken to produce a loaf at the expense of taste and nutrition - a real abomination, promoting time saving at the expense of the goodness and taste). At the beginning of the century, the rich people were eating white bread, and the poor people were eating brown wholegrain bread. At the end of the century the situation reversed, with people of knowledge eating whole grain bread, and people without means eating cheap, Chorleywood method prepared bread. 

In the last years, especially in the small enterprises, chemical additives were discovered to increase speed up mixing time and reduce necessary fermentation time. Everything is rushed now, and instead of a whole day, like in the Antiquity, now a batch of bread may be mixed, made up, risen, and baked in fewer than three hours. This kind of dough is called 'quick bread' by the bakers. Common additives include reducing agents such as L-cysteine (a non essential aminoacid that can be synthesized by the human body) or sodium metabisulfite ( disinfectant, antioxidant, and preservative agent) and oxidants such as potassium bromate (strengthen the dough and to allow higher rising, but if too much is added, or the bread is not baked enough, or the temperature is not high enough, then a residual harmful amount will remain)  or vitamin C (ascorbic acid will make the bread softer). Even if after 1986 you could buy domestic breadmakers, this never become a trend, and artisan breadmakers, using the older methods, are now being very successful. 


Now, you ask young people about Bread for the people movement, and they will tell you strange things about Harvest finance, Farm token and how to be a DefiFarmer. Who can understand all that? (Check link for more info)

In terms of statistics, 60% of the world is eating bread daily. But despite this, malnutrition is a serious problem, and there are many sciences involved in the campaign against malnutrition - medicine, agriculture, biology, sociology, education and economy. The immediate causes of the malnutrition are low dietary intake, disease or both. Diet is critical, and during disease the micronutrients requirements increase, while absorption and appetite decrease. There is an intergenerational cycle of malnutrition, as an undernourished pregnant woman is at risk of obstetric complications. The underweight baby will be more vulnerable to infections, and the feeding conditions will not be optimal, there is also a risk of delayed emotional and intellectual development, leading to stunted underweight adolescent. If it is a girl, she may become pregnant while malnourished, perpetuating the cycle. There are almost 800 million people going hungry every day in the whole world, not having enough food to fulfill their needs (1 out of 10). And this is just by counting calories. There are people eating enough calories, but not enough nutrients, due to monotonous, low quality diets. This is the Hidden Hunger, and there are 2 billions suffering from it, mostly young children and pregnant or lactating women, experiencing multiple deficiencies in the same time. 

An interesting article about bread during the World War can be found here

As the time to become serious come to an end, this is all that i wanted to tell you for today. Class dismissed.''

As everyone was rushing towards exit, the professor Chad Chadwell was getting ready to go back home, to his amazing @Farm, to do some math related to the incoming #HarvestFinance. He got his motorbike running, thinking more about riding the tractor on the fields. The wind was blowing proudly through his Customized Chad Helmet.



P.S. In case of winning in the DefiFarmer contest, half of the prize will be donated to in a small effort to end the World Hunger and provide some Bread For The People. 

Yours truly,






I am a writer, gamer, healthcare professional. I am.

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