ENRICHMENT OF FLOUR
In the 1940s, a flour enrichment program was instituted to compensate for wartime shortages of other foods. However, in the ‘enriched’ flour only the B vitamins – thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin – and the mineral, iron, were added. Flour ‘Enrichment’ implies a loss of nutrients and should not be equated with wholesomeness. For approximately 20 nutrients, there is an average loss of 70-80% in refined and enriched flour. When you eat this, you are placing your body at a disadvantage, casting a burden on the rest of the diet.
Prosser, WA. An old grain mill downtown near Twin City Foods
ADULTERATION OF FLOUR
Flour manufacturers want to make as much money as possible. For example, removing the germ not only prevents flour spoilage, it generates profits when sold to millfeed producers and pharmaceutical companies.
For centuries, bakers have known that ‘good quality’ baked goods could not be made with freshly milled flour, because the dough lacks strength and resilience to trap gas. Until the 20th century it was common practice of storing flour for months to allow oxygen to condition it.
However, as well as storage costs, spoilage and insects caused losses. Chemical oxidizing agents or bleaches were developed to produce the same aging effects in 24-48 hours. They cause one of two effects: oxidation of the gluten to help with rising, and bleaching of the yellowish carotene pigments which could have been sources of vitamin A.
Bleaching agents did not come into use without opposition. Harvey W. Wiley, Chief of the FDA early this century, won a Supreme Court decision outlawing bleaches, but he was forced out of the FDA, and the Supreme Court order was bypassed. The approval of chlorine dioxide as a bleaching agent was also protested by U.S. Army nutrition experts.
Today, in both Canada and the US, the addition of numerous chemicals to white, whole wheat, and rye flours is permitted. These include chlorine, chlorine dioxide, benzoyl peroxide, potassium bromate, ammonium persulfate, ammonium chloride, acetone peroxide, azodicarbonamide, ascorbic acid, l-cysteine, mono-calcium phosphate. Regulations also specify the acceptable levels. In many European countries the use of additives is almost completely prohibited. In Germany, for instance, chemical oxidizing agents were banned in 1958.
Nitrogen bichloride was one of the earliest bleaching agents. After 40 years of use, it was finally found to cause canine hysteria, and was outlawed. The currently most common bleaching agent is benzoyl peroxide. It must be neutralized by adding such substances as: calcium carbonate (chalk!), calcium sulphate, dicalcium phosphate, magnesium carbonate, potassium aluminum sulphate, sodium aluminum sulphate, starch, and tricalcium phosphate.
The most common maturing agent in use is potasssium bromate, and it is added with carriers such as calcium carbonate, dicalcium phosphate, or magnesium carbonate.
In addition to the chemicals permitted to be added to flour, many more are permitted to be added to bread before baking. Chemicals likely to be found in breads include: lecithin, mono- and di- glycerides, carragheenan, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, dicalcium sulfate, ammonium chloride, potassium bromate, calcium bromate, potassium iodate, calcium peroxide, azodicarbonamide, tricalcium phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium propionate, sodium propionate, sodium diacetate, lactic acid, calcium stearoyl-2-lactylate, lactylic stearate, sodium stearyl fumarate, succinylated monoglycerides, ethoxylated mono- and all-glycerides.
In Germany, propionic acid, sodium propionate, calcium propionate, and potassium propionate have been banned as preservatives since March 1988. This was in response to earlier experiments which found that rats fed these substances developed tumors.
In addition to all of this, grains may be irradiated to help prevent spoilage and bugs. This also affects the nutrients, and not in a good way.
Have you read enough? I know I’m tired from typing (or even copying and pasting) all those chemical names. They certainly should have no place in our diets!
So, you say, you don’t eat white bread, so you don’t need to worry about hurting your body by eating all those chemicals? Well….
Stay tuned for part 3, where I tell you what can happen even from “whole wheat” bread and flour.
Most of the information presented in these posts came from Nutritional Characteristics of Organic, Freshly Stone-Ground, Sourdough & Conventional Breads by Judy Campbell, B.Sc., Mechtild Hauser, and Stuart Hill, B.Sc., Ph.D., P.Ag.