In the Western world, the basic staple of nutrition is bread. It evolved, from Neolithic times in Mesopotamia and the Levant, from flour made from natural hybrids of emmer and einkorn. Its form has changed from that of a dark, coarse and heavy loaf, baked in the ashes, to the enriched artistic breads of the late twentieth century. Its variety of forms conferred status on those who ate its refined and whitened form. The wheel of fashion and nutrition has turned full circle to the quality-controlled, vitamin and mineral-enriched wholemeal loaf of the new millennium to come. Bread has changed from a staple not simply of nutrition itself, but to that of a 'functional food' whose fibre confers protection against preventible disease. The bread of the new century thus will be both a food and a medicine. So fundamental to Western life is bread, that its price has long been the last item to remain controlled, when all else is left to the dictates of a free market economy. Bread is the fundamental unit of exchange and forms the last link in a chain of commodities which starts from items of luxury to those of survival itself. The price of bread can thus be used as a currency datum. As such, the price of a loaf of bread, and the minutes of labour needed to produce it, can be used to measure the economy, and to give a measured perspective of its influence on a community's history. Costs, throughout history, can be expressed in 'bread units'. As such, the latter forms an absolute index of the worth of other items, particularly a person's labour. As such, bread and its value forms a partly independent measure of inflationary and other social influences. Bread remains a fundamental part not only of nutrition, but of life itself.