Monday, June 10, 2013

Dead Bread and human health

I have been reading about bread.  Wheat either pounded or stone ground, wet and rolled up, set out for natural yeast to inflate it or sourdough (also natural yeast) was more nutritious and easier to digest than most of our fortified breads today.  Most every little village had a flour mill, more on that later.
Late 1800’s technology created a new way to grind it, a roller mill, this striped the wheat into distinct parts that the miller could separate.  Suddenly we had white flour, it looks cleaner and it rises higher and faster.  About this time, building on Pasteur’s discoveries, yeast cultures were created that worked fast and without surprise, because they were a monoculture.  Millers were throwing away the bran, some of the endosperm, and people loved puffy white bread.  German and English doctors noticed within years of the spread of these new roller mills and the switch to white bread a sharp rise in diabetes, heart disease and a variety of cancers.  When a few years later it was brought to the colonies in Africa replacing “native diets” the same thing happened overnight.  Science alerted the world and in a few years most every nation passed laws requiring bread flour to be enriched, vitamins were added.  In a total waste of energy, the things that were rubbed off at the mill are put back at the baker, well, a few of them, the minimum they can get by with.
Industrial bakers trying to cheaply boost the food value of bread now often add calcium, a rock ground to powder.  It takes double the monoculture yeast to lift all that rock for a light bread.  The extra yeast adds to CO2, and totally unneeded.  The list of ingredients looks like a chemical lesson, none of it is needed.  
Buy stone ground, or whole grain (whole wheat does not mean the same thing).  These should have all, or at least most, of the components that fed mankind for thousands of generations.  Also buy sourdough or naturally leavened or “levain” bread, this indicates a good yeast.  Only a few people are truly unable to tolerate gluten.  However, whole grain sourdough bread does not normally cause them trouble.  The combination was born and was worked out for our guts thousands of years ago.  Likewise, these breads have a low glycimic index, reducing diabetes.  Cancers, intestinal ailments, heat disease, all occur less often when eating these breads.  During both world wars England only produced whole grain flour, breast cancer fell to very low rates.
The Western Disease, that’s what they named it in the 1800’s.  It’s not easy to find the right bread.  Industrial bakeries have filled the shelfs with stuff that sounds good, but may not be what we hoped for, though at least some of it is better than Wonderbread.  Find a small local baker and hound them for details, let them know what you want. 
Be aware true stone ground or whole grain flour has a shorter shelf life, you have to manage it in the pantry.  This is why in the old days there were thousands of small millers, milling in small batches every week, due to the shorter shelf life.  The roller mills with the white flour destroyed that, white flour keeps much longer and anyhow everyone wanted the clean looking fluffy crap.  One more thing, where does the rest of the wheat go when separated from the white flour?  Some of it to feed cattle, some of it to pharmaceutical companies to make vitamins.  Funny, you have to buy the good part of wheat from another source than the baker.  
If you can't find whole grain or stone ground or natural sourdough then go ahead and grab whole wheat, it is a trick, your not getting all the wheat but at least you get a bit more than if it just says wheat flour.  Organic too if possible.

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