Custom and Culture
I made a hard decision when my partner was diagnosed with Type II diabetes. It was to Stop making and eating fry bread. You've never had fry bread? Well it tastes Great and there are all kinds of it!
Basically it is wheat flour, baking powder, liquid, salt and fat. But there are lots of kinds and flavors. I've had the pleasure of eating fry bread with sweet milk, sour milk, with yeast added, (kind of a cross between fry bread which is flat and round and loaf bread) and then there are sopapillas, a close relative, which can be stuffed with anything, chili, for example, or drizzled with honey or dusted with powdered sugar.
Fry bread can be eaten with gravy over it, with dried apples in it, dipped in to wonderfully, viciously, hot chili, and topped with anything you like. It is crisp and brown on the outside and either heavy or soft and light on the inside. It can be used as a taco rap.
So why stop eating such a versatile, delicious food hot from the skillet? One word, HEALTH.
First, how do I know if I'm getting genetically modified wheat (GMO wheat)? Wheat, corn, and soy beans are the food Most commonly genetically altered and sprayed with particular pestacides, made just for them. You can get more crop yield this way, but farmers can be put in hock, just buying the particular fertilizers and pestacides and herbacides to go With GMO crops.
I respect farmers, especially Family farmers. Between their use of chemicals and the dangers of farm machinery, they live at a High risk for Serious illness and accident. No farmers, no food, pretty simple. But I don't want cancer again, Or diabetes, so I don't eat GMO foods when I can avoid them.
I also stopped eating fry bread, which I loved, because of what it does to the body. The lard which can be mixed into it and some of the oils it is fried in can clog up arteries, leading toward heart trouble. The white bleached wheat flour with which it is usually made turns into sugar Very quickly in the blood! High blood sugar and fat Both help promote the development of Type II diabetes! And That is one Nasty disease. Add a little honey, sugar, or syrup and you've just dumped sugar on white flour which Turns into sugar Very fast in the bloodstream. Use beer for your liquid ingredient and you've just dumped in More Empty Calories, calories without necessary vitamins or minerals, or fiber in them.
Before GMO wheat came along I made fry bread with whole wheat flour. It didn't taste as good, but it worked. Still, there was the issue of too many carbohydrates in the diet and the grease. Bummer!
Fry bread is a wonderful food if you don't have much grocery money. It's cheap and easy to make. I know it is part of Native cultures in N. America. I once gathered up a bunch of different fry bread recipes from different places, to try them all. They were all cheap and easy to make. I liked them all, uh-oh.
As a Rehab. Teacher of newly blind people I worked with many people who had type II diabetes. Some had lost toes, some had lost legs. All were going blind and most had Serious heart trouble or strokes. Some died in their mid-30's or forties. It was a Horrible thing to watch. Almost All of them Knew they shouldn't eat certain foods, but they did anyway. Part of the reason was that most of them were poor and had hard lives. And some just didn't care.
I know what it's like not to care what happens to you. But I've seen such awful suffering due to diabetes that I Try not to let that particular disease into my life. I never want cancer again! But at least if one is a terminal cancer patient, there are drugs for the pain. This isn't true with diabetes which can take Years to kill you.
So when my partner was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, we gave away everything sweet in the house. We found healthy friends and gave them our white flour, sugar, ice cream, cookies, etc. Yes, my partner still died, no one can stop death. But she didn't suffer for Years from diabetes first.
If I had to guess, I would Guess that Native women made fry bread from the flour full of bugs which they got from the Army back in the early reservation days. It would be a way to feed a hungry family on almost Nothing. Flour, water, grease, a bit of lye water for levening, and a bit of salt. It was a wise creation for the conditions of that time. When I was a kid my mother used to take a pound of hamburger, crumble it up small and make a Big bowl of gravy, which we ate over cheap white bread with the green onions, tomatoes, and lettuce we grew. About twelve people could be fed in this way.
Another factor is that we usually don't work as physically hard as we used to. If you ate a bread and hamburger gravy meal but worked physically hard for hours at a time, it wasn't Quite as dangerous as eating such a meal and watching TV or taking a nap, or sitting in front of a computer. Your body might Use some of that fat and starch while working cattle or gardening.
Even though my partner is gone, I have given up fry bread and will not go back to eating it. I miss it, but I Won't miss the effects of diabetes it plays one part in helping to cause.
Instead of looking at fry bread as "part of Native culture" I think of it as food which poor people have to eat, brought with European settlement of the continent and bad for humans.
There was no Wheat here before European settlement, and no Sugar either. And there Were no Genetically Modified crops.
I'm Not blaming European Americans for all of our troubles. I am saying that the Older diets of corn, beans, greens, berries, nuts, and meat from animals Not injected with antibiotics and other medicines was better. It was also one Hell of a lot harder to produce!
But today we can make better choices for ourselves: grow gardens, buy from local farmers who grow healthy food, hunt animals who Haven't been grazing on genetically altered crops, and buy organic when possible.
I hate to see people destroying themselves in the name of Culture and Custom.