“They tell me Bernie Sanders can’t win because America won’t vote for a socialist Jew. I tell them America celebrates a socialist Jew every December 25th”.

Taken from Facebook somewhere.

I realize that is a bit of a strange quote to start an essay on bread but I will explain the connection later on. What comes to mind most often these days with bread is gluten since most bread is made with wheat flour. The protein gluten is also found in rye and barley.

About 1% of the U.S. population has celiac disease and these folks are truly unable to handle gluten. Celiac disease is the result of a severe autoimmune response to gluten that can actually at times be life-threatening if not treated. It affects the villi lining the small intestine with diarrhea, gas, and poor absorption being some of the symptoms. A biopsy of the small intestine is the definitive diagnostic tool.

Then there are the nearly 20 million folks in the US claiming “gluten intolerance”. These folks do not have celiac disease but don’t seem to do well with gluten especially when delivered in heavily processed foods. Per a Google search for gluten intolerance, I found a study published in the journal Digestion –yes there is really a journal called Digestion- where a full 86% of the intolerant could actually handle gluten. I personally do not subscribe to Digestion. My unscientific sense of many of the folks with intolerance does feel better off especially highly processed foods containing wheat. In my occasional duties as a breakfast chef at the B&B I frequent in San Francisco it can be a challenge providing a completely gluten-free meal. Gluten-free bread for example is often difficult to distinguish from a piece of cardboard. We do accommodate the gluten intolerant but I am reminded of a cartoon I saw with two women eating out and one says “I have been gluten-free now for two days but I am already annoying”.

If you Google gluten-free jokes an amazing number pops up. This one was my favorite taken from a site called Ranker:

“Do you know the correct term for gluten-free, sugarless vegan brownies? Compost”.

I am also reminded of a woman who checked into the B&B and when dietary issues were asked about she stated that she was a vegetarian. On coming down for breakfast the next morning and smelling the bacon being prepared for guests who would eat it she without missing a beat said I am vegetarian but will eat bacon.

There is a book by April Peneteax title “Gluten is My Bitch”. April has celiac disorder so avoiding gluten is a major and very real health issue for her. I do not however have this problem so I am instead a Bitch for Gluten.

So bear with me here while I return to the Bernie Sanders quote I started with and its reference to his and Jesus’ socialism. The slogan “Bread and Roses” was eventually associated with the Lawrence Massachusetts textile strike in 1912. The Bread and Roses strike was fueled in large part by immigrant textile factory laborers, many of who were woman and children, who were shortchanged on a paycheck and then walked out in mass. The strike lasted for 9 weeks but the workers won out. This effort was a watershed moment for worker’s rights in America with many other rights gained in the ensuing decades. Socialism in America has long been associated with and supportive of worker’s rights.  A great article on the strike can be found on the website and here is a link to the piece:

The slogan Bread and Roses has been incorporated into a song and poetry. Both Joan Baez and Judy Collins have great versions of the song easily found on YouTube.

I’ll close with the lyrics from the protest anthem Bread and Roses by John Denver and John Oppenheim:

Bread and Roses

John Denver

As we go marching, marching
In the beauty of the day
A million darkened kitchens
A thousand mill lofts grey
Are touched with all the radiance
That a sudden sun discloses
For the people hear us singing
Bread and roses, bread and roses
As we go marching, marching
We battle too for men
For they are women’s children
And we mother them again
Our lives shall not be sweetened
From birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies
Give us bread, but give us roses
As we go marching, marching
We bring the greater days
For the rising of the women
Means the rising of the race
No more the drudge and idler
Ten that toil where one reposes
But the sharing of life’s glories
Bread and roses, bread and roses

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: James Oppenheim / John Denver