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By extension from the Biblical phrase break the staff of bread. Compare Egyptian ḫt n ꜥnḫ (grain, food, literally wood/stick of life).



staff of life

  1. Bread or some other staple foodstuff.
    • 1831 July 15, “Of the Blood”, in Western Journal of Health[1], volume 4, number 1, L. B. Lincoln, page 38:
      It was reserved for Christians to torture bread, the staff of life, bread for which children in whole districts wail, bread, the gift of pasture to the poor, bread, for want of which thousands of our fellow beings annually perish by famine; it was reserved for Christians to torture the material of bread by fire, to create a chemical and maddening poison, burning up the brain and brutalizing the soul, and producing evils to humanity, in comparison of which, war, pestilence, and famine, cease to be evils.
    • 1989, Rita Knipe, The Water of Life: A Jungian Journey Through Hawaiian Myth[2], University of Hawaii Press, →ISBN, page 38:
      The round calabash is a perfect image for the feminine womb, within which the arduously pounded taro is contained and then offered as the very staff of life.
    • 1998 February 18, Colin G. Calloway, New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the Remaking of Early America[3], JHU Press, →ISBN, pages 51-52:
      Corn was the staff of life for many Indian people before contact, and it became the staff of life for many European colonists. Corn was higher in nutrition than most other grain crops. John Lawson, who travelled in South Carolina and into the interior Indian country in 1701, was one of the many colonists who sang the praises of corn.