Historical story

Brief history of bread

The history of bread, which over time has become the most popular food in the world, goes back to Mesopotamia 6,000 years ago.

By Tales Pinto

Currently, the bread it is the most popular food in the world, being produced in almost all societies. However, it wasn't always made the same way and didn't always look the same. Over time, its production changed until it reached what we have today.

Bread production was developed over 6,000 years ago and is still essential in the population's diet.

There are studies that show that breads began to be produced approximately six thousand years ago, in the region of Mesopotamia, where Iraq is now located, and were spread by various civilizations of antiquity. This bread was the result of a dry, hard and bitter mixture made from wheat flour. The origin of bread is closely linked to the process of man's sedentarization, when the development of agriculture began, with wheat being one of the cereals resulting from this productive activity.

The fermentation process was a technique developed by the Egyptians around 4000 BC, giving bread the appearance we know it today. Because it is an extremely necessary product for food, it was also used for many centuries as currency. There are indications that the pharaohs used it as a means of payment for services performed. In Rome, bread was one of the components of the policy of panis et circenses (bread and circuses), used by the emperors to maintain an apparent satisfaction of the population, diverting attention from the power disputes and the living conditions to which the people were subjected. The wheat was distributed in public shows by the administration of the empire.

During the Middle Ages, bread was handcrafted in the home by peasants. The agricultural and technical limitations that this social class had did not allow the production of fermented breads, which resulted in a lower quality product. A different situation was experienced by feudal lords, who consumed higher quality breads produced in the castles' bakeries. It was also in this historical period that the figure of the baker emerged, who gradually began to organize himself into craft corporations, thus controlling the food production process and enjoying a certain prestige in the courts.

With the Industrial Revolution, the production of bread gained a strong impulse, either in the increase of land destined for the planting of wheat, or in the development of techniques for grinding the cereal in the mills, passing from animal or human traction mills to steam mills, which began to appear in 1784. The large production that took place was intended to feed mainly the working class that grew up in industrial cities, creating conditions for large-scale production.

Bread was even one of the reasons for the outbreak of the French Revolution. Being the basis of the diet of the French population for centuries, the severe fall in cereal production made food expensive and scarce. This was one of the reasons that led to the revolt of the French population and the fall of King Louis XVI.

Today, bread is spread throughout the world. Its manufacture involves several different methods, which result in a huge variety of types and qualities of bread. Despite this development, a good portion of the world population still does not have access to this food on a daily basis.

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