Every country has one particular grain product as its own main “staff of life.” Wheat plays this role to a predominating degree in the United States; rye in some of the Northern European countries; rice is used by Oriental races as their main source of sustenance.
A variety of the small seeds is produced in every country. These grow from grass-like plants. The seed foods or grain foods are abundantly rich in starch, and contain enough protein to support human and animal nutrition. Some of them contain a percentage of fat. They are all rich in minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. (Enzymes are vital chemical compounds which are found in foods. They help to digest, to mature, and otherwise to complete them chemically, preparatory to assimilation by the living body.)
Wheat consists about 70 per cent of starch and about 12 per cent of protein. Rice has a lower protein percentage but it is of superior quality. Lime and iron, as well as other minerals, are found in every one of the grains.
These vital elements are concentrated close to the inner bran layer of the grain. The central portion of the grain contains its protein and starch. The germinal portion is found at one end in relation to the bran layer. The germ is that part of the grain from which the sprouting and growth of the new plant begins.
Bread is sometimes called “the staff of life,” and indeed bread could be the staff of life. It could nourish the human body if it were made from unrefined and unbleached flour.
Dogs, pigeons and rats, fed experimentally on a white-bread diet, died within a few weeks. But another group of such animals fed on wholewheat bread were alive and strong at the end of several weeks (Kellogg). In human nutrition there are many deficiencies such as secondary anemias, spinal curvatures, and body weaknesses which are largely caused by the eating of white bread, white rice, farina, white crackers and white cake.
Tooth decay is also often attributable to excessive consumption of refined grain products. When refined grain products are eaten they yield an acid ash to the body economy. In order to neutralize acid ash from the blood, alkaline minerals are robbed from the bones, muscles and the teeth. The modern nutrition laboratory has done great service in substantiating the fact that poor dental structure and tooth decay are caused to a large extent by the excessive use of white-flour products and also by the use of sugar and sugar-sweetened foods.
There are some wholewheat breads produced commercially by a number of companies that are superior in nutritive qualities. The flour of such breads is freshly milled and undegerminated. There are wholewheat crackers and cereals that are available even on the ordinary grocery shelves that are superior in nutritive value to refined flour and cereal products. Shredded Wheat and Shredded Ralston are among such wholesome whole-grain products.
There are some crackers which are made of all-grain products. The health food stores specialize in selling excellent all-grain crackers. Rye-Krisp is a good all-grain grocery product. Such cereals as Wheatena and Maltex are excellent all-grain cooking foods.
Corn meal and other corn products are popular in this country and elsewhere. Corn and corn products are very palatable and nutritious. Fresh sweet corn is an excellent food. It contains about 6 per cent sugar, 5 per cent protein, 13 per cent starch, minerals and vitamins and the best distilled water.
Fresh sweet corn should not be boiled in much water because its sugar and minerals and vitamins will thus be dissolved into the cooking water. Fresh sweet corn tastes delicious when steamed or baked in its husks.
Corn meal that is sold in packages at the ordinary grocery store is degerminated. Commercial packers of grain foods degerminate their products because they then keep without spoiling for a longer period than cereals prepared from the entire grain.
If the public knew to what extent grain products that are de-germinated are impoverished, they would demand freshly ground cereals only. Electrical mills similar to coffee-grinding mills could be used even in the modern home for the home preparation of all-grain cereals and flour.
The human body requires grain foods. They are excellent sources of energy for all bodily activities. Their proteins, minerals, and vitamins are useful in replenishing worn-out cells and depleted minerals and vitamins. In this sense grain foods are rightly called the “staff of life.” One kind of grain food is as nourishing as another, although some are superior in flavor, protein content, quality, or in vitamins and minerals.
Rice as a grain food is used by many millions of the world’s population. By habit and custom, rice is preferred by the people of such countries as India, China and Japan. In these countries ordinary laborers walk for many miles carrying heavy burdens on a diet of rice and vegetables, a diet which apparently supplies adequate nourishment.
The protein of rice is about one-half of wheat, or about 6 per cent, but it is of superior quality. Polished rice is, however, deprived of its minerals and vitamins and of course is deficient in nutritional value.
Wild rice grows in shallow lakes in the United States as well as other countries. It is not as popular as the ordinary rice. It is rather expensive as compared with ordinary brown rice. Brown rice is rice with the outer bran left on. It is a completely nourishing food. It should be cooked by simmering in just enough water to soften it in order to retain its minerals and vitamins.
Some research scientists in the medical field have found rice of particular value in the feeding of individuals who suffer with degenerative diseases such as hardening of the arteries, inflammation of the stomach and intestines, and cancer. Paul Ehrich of Germany used rice with dramatic results in his researches on the cancer problem. Dr. Duncan Bulkley of New York City used rice as the main food for some of the most difficult cancer problems in his 40 years of practice in the New York Skin and Cancer Hospital.
Dr. Bulkley, Dr. Ehrich and other pioneers found that rice is superior to other grain foods in checking the growth of tumor cells because of its low percentage of sulphur and protein. Dr. Bulkley claimed that many sufferers recovered or had their lives prolonged by his use of the rice diet. It was combined with fresh vegetables, fruits, butter and cream, for extra caloric food values.
Rice has been used recently for the treatment of high blood pressure by some American internists. They are obtaining poor results, however, because they combine the rice poorly. It is a sad fact that in authoritative medical institutions doctors know very little about applied principles of nutrition in relation to the sick. They use rice in combination with sugar and cooked sugar-sweetened fruits. This makes fermenting acid-ash mixtures. Such mixtures, after their digestion and absorption, may further irritate the already arteriosclerotic organs and blood vessels.
A rice diet combines well with freshly made raw vegetable juices. A glass of raw vegetable juice would require about three or four times as much bulk combined from celery, lettuce, raw carrots, and parsley. A glassful of such salad juice provides a potent elixir for a sick body that can regenerate inflamed arteries and degenerated vital organs.
Oatmeal is a popular cooking cereal in this country, and is used as a main food in Ireland and Scotland. Oatmeal makes an excellent addition for the baking of muffins, cookies, and home-made breads. Oatmeal is rich in lime and other minerals and has a high fat content.
Barley is used commercially for making beer. It is also used for the making of maltose which is an intermediate starch used in formulae for infant feeding. Barley is an excellent starchy food when it is used in soups. Barley mixed with beans or split peas, some fresh-cut parsnips, carrots, celery and mushrooms, makes a delicious and nutritive soup. Barley is used by some European people as a main dish. It is similar in food value to any other starchy food and has its own characteristic taste and flavor. Barley cooked together with beans is in use as a main dish by some of the poorer peoples of the world.
Rye is popular for bread-making in this country and in others. Its food value is similar to that of wheat, although its flavor is somewhat different.
Millet is similar in composition to barley. It is popular as a main food staple in Eastern European countries, Africa, and Asia. Millet tastes quite palatable when it is cooked like any other cereal and seasoned with a little butter. Millet is also used for the feeding and fattening of geese and ducks by some Eastern European peasants.
Buckwheat is better known in this country in the form of buck-wheat pancake flour than it is as a cereal. In the market, buckwheat can be found ground up in cereals. It is a highly palatable grain product. It is delicious when prepared in the following manner:
The dry grain is placed in a shallow pan and slowly toasted either on top of the stove over a low flame, or toasted in the oven until the granules are very dry without being burned. Boiling hot water is then poured on the toasted buckwheat. (Use four to five cups of water to a cup of buckwheat cereal.) Then cover with a tight lid and let simmer over a very low flame.
This makes a very mealy and tasty dish. It may be seasoned with a little salt, butter or sweet cream and served together with two or three steamed vegetables. This dish is commonly known as kasha by the Russians, the Poles, and other Eastern European peoples.
Brown rice can be prepared according to the same recipe. It will taste better than rice cooked in the usual manner and will not be soggy.
The grains that are in common use have been discussed rather briefly because everyone knows about these important seed foods. The most important attribute of grains is that they can maintain bodily,, nutrition when they are not degerminated and demineralized by refining and bleaching. They are more easily digestible than the legumes or bean varieties. They should not be sweetened with sugar or even with honey. They should be combined at mealtime with raw salads, steamed vegetables, and raw fruits.