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The Graham Cracker

Most prophets start out as quacks and Sylvester Graham, inventor of the Graham cracker, is a perfect example. Sylvester Graham was born in 1794, probably the 17th child of a 70 year old father who was a minister of the gospel.

At age two, Sylvester was an orphan and a ward of charity. We don't know much about what happened to him until at age 32, he showed up and enrolled at Amherst College in Massachusetts. There he argued with everyone who would stay around long enough to listen to him and gave long speeches to disrupt many of his classes. He was kicked out of Amherst and had a nervous breakdown or his nervous breakdown caused him to be kicked out of Amherst.

His nurse, Miss Sara Eads, took care of him and as a reward for bringing him back to health, he married her. She soon became pregnant and he had to support a family, but the only skill he had was his big mouth, so he went to the Presbyterian Church and begged them to make him a minister. They ordained him, even though he had no formal education. He was such a convincing speaker, they sent him to Newark, New Jersey, where he became famous as a fire-breathing minister who warned about the dangers of alcohol and became known as the "suppressor of the Use of Ardent Spirits." A major problem was that while he was preaching the evils of alcohol, his wife, Sara, was tippling, and not always privately.

While on a visit to Philadelphia, he met members of the Young Bible Christian Church. They preached abstinence from meat as well as alcohol. And Sylvester Graham became an ardent vegetarian. He became convinced that God did not want people to kill animals. He became very interested in health and the leading killer in 1830 in the United States was dyspepsia, which means an upset stomach. Doctors felt that people died because they had unhealthy bowels. He felt that bowel problems were caused by lack of bulk in the diet and every Sunday, from his pulpit, he screamed about the benefit of bran. He felt that God did not want people to split the wheat kernel.

In 1830 nobody knew that 100% of the B vitamins, almost all the minerals and phytochemicals are in the germ that is removed when a miller makes white flour. He was truly a prophet, way ahead of this time. He became one of the most popular lecturers and screamed about the dangers of alcohol, white flour, gluttony, meat. He advocated bathing, which upset many of his fellow Americans because they took baths once a year, but only if they needed one. He stated that lewdness, excess sex and eating chicken caused cholera. To combat white flour, he created the Graham cracker, coarsely ground wheat that was bathed in molasses and cooked before it could turn rancid.

Sylvester Graham was treated by his countrymen as either a nut or a religious man. But he preached against the dangers of alcohol, white flour, meat, gluttony, obesity and body odor. You may not agree with some of his views, but on the subject of flour, Graham was truly a prophet.

Checked 10/3/11

June 2nd, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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