Know your foods. II. Graham bread - Journal of Chemical Education

II. Graham bread. H. A. Schuette. J. Chem. Educ. , 1929, 6 (1), p 59. DOI: 10.1021/ed006p59. Publication Date: January 1929. Cite this:J. Chem. Educ. ...
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KNOW YOUR FOODS. 11. GRAHAM BREAD* In a previous discussion we indicated that butter's chief competitoroleomargarine-is the product of French ingenuity, that it was first made during the period of the Franco-Prussian war, and that it got a start, so to speak, on the wrong foot with the result that it has not entirely escaped from the prejudice resulting from the frauds which were once practiced with it, although this food product is now being made from the purest of raw materials in sanitaryfactories under most strictly guarded and government-supervised conditions. We also stated that it has about the same degree of digestibility and energy value as butter, and that when milk is added as one of the ingredients of this synthetic food product, a certain degree of vitamin potency is given it. Having introduced this series of discussions on "Know Your Foods" with one on a "spread for bread, we next take up the subject of a particular bread itself. What do you know about the origin of the term "Graham flour?" Much of what the journalist calls "human interest" surrounds the origin of this name although the history of Courtesy of ''Notional Cyrlo9edin of American the flour itself has been lost in Biogra9hy" antiauitv. When wheat was first ground for human consumption the product obtained was an unbolted wheat meal. This unbolted wheat meal was used for bread-making for centuries. In the course of time, however, as man became more fastidious about the appearance of his food, attempts were made with more or less success to produce a whiter and more attractive product. To do this it was necessary to remove the bran, which consists of the coarser particles of the wheat kernel. Gradually, by the use of improved processes of sifting, more of the bran was removed with the result * A lecture by radiophone broadcast from station WHA, University of Wisconsin, February 29, 1928.





that the flour became more uniform in appearance and whiter in color. Although this flour was crude as compared with our modern so-called "patent flour," yet it contained very much less mineral constituents than the unbolted wheat meal of former times. Highly milled, or "patent," flour is now known to be one of the most deficient foods which enters into the human diet. It is rather poor in protein, and this of a poor quality. Lime, phosphorus, sodium, chlorine and iron are there in insufficient amounts. Of the element magnesium it probably has a sufficiency. From the standpoint of human nutrition it is also significant that the anti-scorbutic vitamin C is lacking, that it is poor in vitamin A , and that factor which prevents rickets. And why not? The ground meal has been "purified of these all-important constituents. I n or about the year 1839 there appeared a book, "Science of Human Life," by one whose activities as a writer and lecturer on dietetics were subsequently to cause, in a sense, a return to the use of that flour which modern milling methods once threatened to make obsolete. Existing knowledge on matters of nutrition was somewhat empirical a t that time, but we now appreciate the fact that he was correct in many of his theories. I n this respect he lived almost a century ahead of his time. This was Sylvester Graham. Born in 1794, his was a life span of only 57 years for, though he preached longevity, fate, i t seems, did not accord him this distinction. He spent his life in the New England states. Posterity will remember him as a dietarian although dietetics was not the field for which he had prepared himself. He was ordained a Presbyterian minister but did not follow the ministry, preferring rather to lecture and to write on medical subjects. He was an ardent advocate of temperance reform and vegetarianism, having persuaded himself that a flesh diet was the cause of all ills. And not only did he urge against the use of meat, but also stimulating seasonings, condiments, tea, coffee, pastry, tobacco, and liquor. Graham began a nation-wide agitation, soon after the appearance of his book, seeking a return to the use of bread made from the whole of the wheat, ground but not bolted, for he was convinced from his own experiences and that of previous ages of the efficacy and value of this type of bread. From that time to this, unbolted wheat meal has been popularly known as "Graham flour," a definition acceptable to the federal pure food law enforcement officials and supported by American, British, and French scientific authorities. The Bureau of Chemistry of the U. S. Department of Agriculture some years ago made a survey of the Graham flour industry and concluded that although a large percentage of the so-called Graham flour on the market is made by mixing inferior grades of flour with bran, there are a great many millers who still make Graham flour in the original way, which is by grind-


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ing whole sound, clean, fully matured, air-dried wheat kernels either on stones or on rolls without bolting. There is so much of interest in Graham's "Science of Human Life" on whole-wheat bread that we are tempted to make a few brief abstracts therefrom. For example, the author held to the belief that the ancients recognized that the bread which was made from whole-wheat flour' was more conducive to general health and vigor and better adapted to nourish and sustain than that made from highly milled flour. In the writings of Hippocrates, who is recognized as the father of medicine, he saw a recommendation for bread made from unbolted wheat in that i t was stated that such bread had a salutary effect upon the bowels. In this commendation he found a parallel in his own practice for he had noted the efficacy of wholewheat bread in all disorders of the stomach and bowels stating that "thousands of individuals . . . . have been benefited by using the coarse wheaten bread instead of that made of superfine flour," and they are "living witnesses of the virtues of that bread."2 Graham also quoted Baron von Steuben as saying that the "peculiar healthfulness of Prussian soldiers was in a great measure to be attributed to their ammunition bread made of grain, triturated or ground, but not bolted, which was accounted the most wholesome and nutritious part of their rations." He turned also to English history for proof of the virtues of whole-wheat bread. Toward the close of the eighteenth century, England, as a result of her war with France, found her grain supply dwindling. Parliament, in order to conserve and extend the wheat supply, passed an act which made i t obligatory that the army a t home be supplied with bread made of unbolted wheat meal. The Continental Army was to receive, what i t was believed to be, the better flour. Those soldiers who were supplied with such bread were a t first greatly displeased, we learn, and refused to eat it, and even threw it away in great rage. However, so Graham reported, "after two or three weeks they began to be much pleased with it and preferred i t to the fine-flour bread." The army surgeons and officers, noting a marked improvement in the health of the soldiers, "publicly declared that the soldiers were never before so healthy and robust and that diseases of every kind had almost entirely disappeared from the army." Publicity given this fact by the newspapers, coupled with the recommendations of the medical professions, soon led to the universal use of this bread by the civilian population of many a town. The habit was not to become permanently ingrained, however, because of heavy importations of fine flour from America, of larger crops a t home, and of the removal of the restrictions which Parliament had placed upon the consumption of wheat flour.


J. A. Le Clerc and B. R Jacobs,"Grahem Plour," U. S. Dept. Agric.. Bur. Chem. Bull. I*? (1913). "Science of Human Life," 1839.





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That Graham's teachings made for him a following is apparent by the establishment of so-called temperance or Graham boarding houses in Boston and the city of New York. Here those who wished to follow the daily regimen of Graham found every opportunity of doing so. "Early to bed, and early to rise" seems to have been a fundamental condition which all who would live here accepted. Frequent baths were encouraged not of the orthodox tub variety, but showers plentifully supplied with cold water. But let the advertisement tell the story. At 23, Brattle Street, Boston. Transient company furnished with Board and Lodging, or their meals without lodging. Tickets for single dinners for sale a t this office. Regular hours for meals are 6, 12, and 6 o'clock. The shower bath is constantly supplied with water and is free to all.3

An ambitious attempt was made by David Cambell in 1837 to establish in Boston a journal through whose columns were to be disseminated and factually illustrated the science of human life as Sylvester Graham lived and JOURNAL OII HEALTHAND taught it. Its full title was THEGRAHAM LONGEVITY, "designed to illustrate by facts, and sustain by reason and principles, the science of human life as taught by Sylvester Graham." The publication failed after a struggle of several years because of a lack of enthusiasm on the part of its subscribers to give it financial support. Among the numerous items in its pages which have perhaps an historical interest is the following characteristic advertisement and several recipes for making Graham bread. BRYANT 6. CLARK Dealers in Grain and Meal, Haverhill Street, near Warren Bridge, Boston, Graham meal constantly on hand.4

One of the "old modes" of making Graham bread is described in a letter dated Albany, N. Y., Sept. 22, 1837. It was written by a miller to aflour merchant of Boston. The flour, together with a suitable quantity of yeast t o fermentshould be moulded up thin and put into the baking-pans immediately (in about one-half the quantity you expect the size of the loaf after being baked). As soon as i t is in the pans put i t in a place of moderate heat, and let it stand undisturbed until fermented (raised) sufficiently to bake-then put i t in an oven of rather more intense heat than would he necessary t o hake superfine flour bread. MiseraUe bread is often made from the best of Graham f l a u r a n d it is because it is mired and then moulded and baked in an oven without sufficient heat. Moulding after raidng spoils it.6

More specific in its directions is the following one: a

Graham Journal. 2,208 (1838).

' Ibid., 1, 160 (1837). Ibid., 1, 212 (1837).

For the sponge, take one quart of water, blood warm or about 100°F.. add one teaspoonful of salt, stir in coarse wheat meal till it becomes a thick hatter, then if it is kept at about a temperature of 80 or 90' it will ferment sufficiently in from four to six hours or if prepared in the evening let it remain at about 60" till morning, then add two or three quarts of warm water with a suitable proportion of the wheat meal, mould it in pans, and in shout one hour it will rise sufficiently for the oven. In this way, with proper care and experience, the best of bread may be made without any pearl-ash, yeast, molasses or milk. Some use a very little saleratus t o prevent all acidity in the bread, hut that had better be avoided by having the dough in the oven before the fermentation proceeds too far.@

Such is the story of how the use of an ancient wheat meal was revived. From the standpoint of nutrition, its use is physiologically sound. Viewed in the light of the conservation of food, since the nutrients of bran are but poorly utilized by man and since the embryo impairs the keeping quality of flour, thought might very well be given the opinions advanced by some7 that its universal use to the complete exclusion of highly-milled flour would constitute in a sense an economic waste of a food which could better he utilized on the farm in the production of meat. To discard white bread completely from the American diet because of a fear that, when it forms an unduly large proportion of the diet of children, its vitamin deficiencies might lead to malnutrition, seems hardly necessary because the food habits of the American people are such as to make cases of this kind comparatively rare. ' Graham J., 1, 102 (1837). ' Osborne and Mendel, J Biol. Chem., 37,557-601 (1919).