The Trouble with Bread
A gluten intolerant filmmaker's quest for the perfect loaf leads to unexpected discoveries about modern bread.
Directed by Maggie Beidelman
Videography: Kate Elston, Mitzi Mock, Melanie Ruiz, Maggie Beidelman
Music: Nick Benavides
Michael Pollan (author of "Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation") told the filmmaker, Maggie Beidelman, that her gluten intolerance could all be in her head. She half agreed with him, because the number of Americans buying into the $10.5 billion "gluten-free" industry is disturbing. There is so much more to learn about wheat - and how it has changed in just the last couple of generations - before we completely sign it off.
"A very engaging approach to a seriously complex and important subject." Peter Reinhart, Instructor of Culinary Arts, Johnson & Wales University
In this film, Ms Beidelman journeys from farm to mill to table on a quest for answers about gluten intolerance and a hunt for the perfect loaf, one she can eat without getting sick. Along the way, she makes some unexpected discoveries about crucial changes to the wheat itself and how it is processed and fermented. Let's just say that bread as you know it, is not what you think.
Grade Level: 7 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2014
Copyright Date: 2013
DVD ISBN: 1-94154-513-0
"The Trouble With Bread provides a very engaging approach to a seriously complex and important subject. I believe it will initiate valuable discussions and generate ongoing enquiry for its viewers. The real trouble with bread, as the film reveals, begins when we discover that something so beloved and intrinsic to our being can also be so deeply problematic, both personally and socially."
Peter Reinhart, Instructor of Culinary Arts, Johnson and Wales University, Co-founder, Brother Juniper's Bakery, Author, The Bread Baker's Apprentice and Bread Revolution (forthcoming)
"Beidelman isn't afraid to tackle the difficult questions...It is a great length for showing in a 50-minute high school or college course with time for discussion. It could also be shown to community groups, especially those interested in producing locally grown and milled flour, or those thinking about advocacy on public policies such as food labeling."
Cherice Bock, Whole Terrain Journal
"Appropriate for students in a range of classes, including survey or introductory-level courses and courses focusing on body, illness, or the culture of food...Relevant and contemporary...Engaging and invites critical thinking."
Leslie Elrod, University of Cincinnati, Teaching Sociology
"An engaging film that provides a good introduction to the complex issue of gluten sensitivity and an excellent example of how the industrialization of food can create new problems for human health and nutrition."
Dr. Ellen Mallory, Assistant Professor of Sustainable Agriculture, University of Maine, Co-Director of the Local Bread Wheat Project
"A charming, informative exploration of why an increasing number of people experience health problems when they eat bread...A fascinating look at twentieth century changes in agriculture, milling and breadmaking technology. Although convinced by her own experience of the reality of gluten sensitivity, the filmmaker skillfully challenges the often heated anti-gluten rhetoric that's become increasingly common. Instead, Ms. Beidelman makes an important contribution by shedding light on this important issue by weaving together new and archival footage to tell a fascinating story of how bread's role as 'The Staff of Life' may be in trouble."
Dr. Gary Gomer, 'Professor Bread', Founder and Director of Learning Works and the Breadmaking-in-the-Schools Project in NYC
"The Trouble With Bread is true to its title. Today's bread is often a highly processed product made of refined wheat that has been bred to be higher in gluten. Most people are familiar with celiac disease, which is an immunological reaction to gluten, but are less likely to be acquainted with gluten sensitivity. This film does an excellent job of describing a condition that may affect as much as 6-7% of the population...The film also explores why the condition is increasing...This film has high production values and provides an insight into non-celiac gluten sensitivity without being overly alarmist."
Dr. Joe Schwarcz, Director, Office for Science and Society, McGill University
"Fascinating video...A highly professional and engaging program...It is appropriate for health and biology classes and will be especially interesting to students for whom gluten intolerance is a personal or family issue. The DVD also includes an 11-page pdf Teacher's Guide that can be accessed on a computer and printed out if desired. It includes a program synopsis, pre- and post-film discussion questions, a chart of wheat grain structure, discussions of wheat milling, fermentation, and the importance of gluten, and hot links to web resources and related films."
Richard Lord, NSTA Recommends
"A very thought-provoking look at one of the staples of American life...This short film is very informative and raises many questions for consumers of all ages."
Linda Hummel Fitzharris, College of Charleston, Science Books and Films
"Offers a cautionary warning about the harmful side effects of increased industrialization of food. Highly recommended, especially for public library DVD shelves."
The Midwest Book Review
"Beautifully shot...informative...High-quality production that is as engaging as it is informative."
Constance Dickerson, Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library, School Library Journal
"Strikes a balance on the issues around gluten, acknowledging the genuine difficulty some people will have along with the costs associated with remedying the situation...This is a solid resource for use in classroom instruction and discussion. Recommended for academic collections with an emphasis on nutrition and health."
Peter Hepburn, College of the Canyons, Library Journal
Includes 9-page Teacher's Guide, also scene selection and SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
The film's website
Awards and Festivals
CINE Golden Eagle
Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Mill Valley Film Festival
Thin Line Film Fest
Heartland Film Festival
Sacramento Film & Music Festival
Science Books & Films Best Videos of 2014
United Nations Association Film Festival
Prague Film Festival
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... more Reviews
"Just as gluten draws our attention to wheat, bread can draw our attention to the larger complexities of who creates, profits from, and gets to eat what, in our modern food system."
Bethany Econopouly and Stephen Jones, Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies