A Treatise on Bread,
By Sylvester Graham

Light & Stearns, 1 Cornhill

... page 35

But while the people of our country are so entirely given up as they are at present, to gross and promiscuous feeding on the dead carcasses of animals, and to the untiring pursuits of wealth, it is perhaps wholly in vain for a single individual to raise his voice on a subject of this kind. The farmer will continue to be most eager to increase the number of his acres, and to extort from those acres the greatest amount of produce, with the least expense of tillage, and with little or no regard to the quality of that produce in relation to the physiological interests of man; while the people generally, are contented to gratify their depraved appetites on whatever comes before them, without pausing to inquire whether their indulgences are adapted to preserve or to destroy their health and life. Yet if someone does not raise a voice upon this subject which shall be heard and heeded, there will soon reach us, as a nation, a voice of calamity which we shall not be able to shut our ears against, albeit we may in the perverseness of our sensualism, incorrigibly persist in disregarding its admonitions, till the deep chastisements of outraged nature shall reach the very “bone and marrow” of the human constitution, and fill our land with such a living rottenness, as now in some other portions of the earth, renders human society odious and abominable.

Whether, therefore, my voice shall be heard and heeded or not, I will obey the dictates of my sense of duty, and solemnly declare that this subject demands the prompt and earnest attention of every agriculturalist and of every friend to the common causes of humanity; for it is most certain, that until the agriculture of our country is conducted in strict accordance with physiological truth, it is not possible for us to realize those physical, and intellectual, and moral, and social, and civil blessings for which the human constitution and our soil and climate are naturally capacitated.

... page 40

It would be difficult to ascertain at how early a period in the progress of society, mankind, in the preparation of wheat for bread-making, began to put asunder what God has joined together, and to concentrate the more purely nutrient properties, by separating the flour from the part commonly called the bran. The Bible speaks of fine flour or meal, as a portion of the meat offerings of the temple, but it is not probable this approached very near to the superfine flour of the present time.

We are informed also that the Romans, more than two thousand years ago, had four or five different kinds of bread — one of which was made of the purest flour, from which all the bran was separated. This was eaten only by the rich and luxurious. A second kind, in more common use was that from which a portion of the bran was taken; and a third kind, which was more generally used than any other, was that which was made of the whole substance of the wheat. A fourth kind was made mostly of the bran, for dogs.

But at whatever period in the history of the race, this artificial process was commenced, certain it is that in direct violation of the laws of constitution and relation which the Creator has established in the nature of man, this process of mechanical analysis is, at the present day, carried to the full extent of possibility; and the farina, and gluten, and saccharine matter of the wheat, are almost perfectly concentrated in the form of superfine flour. Nor is this all — these concentrated nutrient properties of the wheat are mixed and complicated in ways innumerable, with other concentrated substances, to pamper the depraved appetites of man, with kinds of food which always and inevitably tend to impair his health and to abbreviate his life.

Even bread, which is the simplest form into which human ingenuity tortures the flour of wheat, is, by other causes besides the concentration I have named, too frequently rendered the instrument of disease and death, rather than the means of life and health, to those that eat it.

... page 70

If human existence is worth possessing, it is worth preserving; and they who have enjoyed it as some have done, and as all the human family are naturally endowed with the capabilities to enjoy it, certainly will not doubt whether it is worth possessing; nor, if they will properly consider the matter, can they doubt that its preservation is worthy of their most serious and diligent care.

And when they perceive how intimately and closely the character of their bread is connected with the dearest interests of man, they will not be inclined to feel that any reasonable amount of care and labor is too much to be given to secure precisely the right kind of bread.

... page 103

Who then shall make our bread? For after all that science in its utmost accuracy can do, in ascertaining principles and in laying down rules, there is little certainty that any one, who undertakes to make bread merely by rule, will be anything like uniformly successful. We may make a batch of bread according to certain rules, and it may prove excellent; and then we may make another batch according to the same rules, which may be very poor. For if we follow our rules every so closely, there may be some slight differences in the quality of condition of the meal or the yeast, or something else, which will materially alter the character of the bread, if we do not exercise a proper care and judgment, and vary our operations according as the particular circumstances of the case may require.

Correct rules are certainly very valuable; but they can only serve as general way-marks, in the art of bread-making. Uniform success can only be secured by the exercise of that mature judgement which is always able to dictate those extemporaneous measures which every exigency and circumstance may require; and such a judgement can only result from a care and attention and experience which are the offspring of that moral sensibility which duly appreciates the importance of the quality of the bread, in relation to the happiness and welfare of those that consume it.