Grain of Truth is the story of the many food fads that have swept through our country in an attempt to cure and prevent disease from becoming a problem. In order to place the contemporary gluten-free epidemic into perspective, I looked up Nuts Among The Berries by Ronald M. Deutsch, which was self-published in 1977. Deutsch called the people who believed in various magical ways to cure diseases the “Nuts”. The craziness of their ways has amazed Deutsch, as he says they have been hoodwinking people for centuries. One example is Dr. Elisha Perkins. In 1796 he created two metal rods called “Tractors” that users would place over areas of the body that suffered from pain or disease.
Perkins made a ton of money and gained notoriety worldwide. George Washington was one of his most famous followers who bought tractors for his entire family. They had bought these trying to combat the Yellow fever plague that struck the city of New York in 1799. After the tractors were ineffective, Perkins advised people to drink large quantities of vinegar while using the tractor applications. Perkins tragically died shortly from the yellow fever after.
Deutsch goes over incredible stories that reveal details that you never may have known before. On every page it feels like you are uncovering something new. Did you know that 25% of Roman people were receiving the equivalent of food stamps, known as tessera, to buy bread. Ex President Richard Nixon did not like cottage cheese, but ate it every single day with ketchup because he was told that it would help him lose weight.
Deutsch, although sounding like quite the crazy man himself sometimes, is the nemesis of the insane claims made for organic types of food like bean sprouts and yogurts. He truly despises deceptive promises that make different type of vitamins or foods easy to promote. He founded two favorite subjects who he would spend a lot of time studying. Sylvester Graham and John Kellogg where two of the earliest enemies against whole wheat. In his book, he devoted a chapter to each of them.
From that mix came America’s first food fad, started by Sylvester Graham. He was aware of no such thing as gluten, but he understood desire; he loathed it and linked sexual depravity directly to beef consumption. For a substitute, he invented a really unpalatable baked brick made mostly of wheat bran, which is what came before the graham cracker.
John Kellogg came around in the 1880s, creating a world famous retreat for health known as San. It was a fifteen story building where he would take care of the rich and famous. His brother named Will is the one who started began manufacturing Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, which we still enjoy as an incredible breakfast treat to this day. This was to much of Deutsch’s delight.
Ronald Deutsch doesn’t get the notoriety he deserves but he was one of the first to recognize wheat for what it could really do, rather than a health trend.