Bread

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Let's talk for a while about bread. All over the world, in Europe and the Americas and in most of Asia, bread is the "staff of life", it's a key food in people's diets. Almost everyone eats bread- we eat it as toast for breakfast, as sandwiches for lunch, as hamburger buns for dinner- or people eat it as croissants or roti, naan or chappati, or under hundreds of other names in as many different languages. Even in southeast Asia, where rice is King, bread is becoming more and more popular these days. And it should, because it's a very healthy and nutritious, convenient, delicious food!

Man has been making bread since the Stone Age. It's at least ten thousand years old. And it's certainly a fundamental part of our culture here. It's a significant part of our diet, and even a significant part of our psyche. We talk about a worker being a "breadwinner", someone who "puts bread on the table", and our job is our "bread and butter". We call any rich agricultural area of a country its "breadbasket". And in fact, "bread" and "dough" are both current slang for "money", which is another fundamental necessity in our society.

Bread's been so vital to our lives that it's also been an important political issue over many centuries of British history. In very early times, in times of irregular weather and poor agricultural practices, England often went through periods of failing crops and famine, and our rulers were well aware that famine created unrest among the people, so they tried to keep the price of bread, the poor man's staple food, from fluctuating too much. The earliest recorded law was issued in 1202, during the reign of King John. This law not only fixed the selling price of bread, but it also specified what portion of that price was supposed to apply to the cost of ingredients and what portion was supposed to apply to the baker's profit. This same law, which was revised in 1266, remained in effect for the next six hundred years.

Thoughout our history, our...
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