Friday, February 09, 2007

The best part of last Friday

Picture courtesy of The Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers

We were all talking about baking bread and using natural products to do so when a hand in the back of the room shot up. What is enriched flour? What is bromated? King Arthur states emphatically on thier site that their flour is never enriched or bromated. Carolyn then explained about the "whole" nature of the wheat kernel. When a company mills the wheat into flour, there are choices they make. They can Mill out the bran or "hull" and the germ of the kernel leaving only the endosperm. The endosperm is what is used when white flour is made. The bran and germ are discarded or used other places. There are very few companies using the whole grain. When the whole grain is used it entitles the company to use this neat symbol on their products:

They either use at least 8g or all 100% of the grain. The 100% symbol is what you want to look for when purchasing bread. There are very few companies baking bread using this symbol. I encourage you to bake your own.

When a company chooses not to use the whole grain, and just use the endosperm, the flour is bleached (using a chemical process) to give it its white color. The bleaching kills all the nutrients so then they "enrich" the flour to give back some of the nutrients. Some companies also add potassium bromate to the flour to artificially strengthen the flour.

At that point in the discussion a woman rose her hand and mentioned that she had purchased a "Sara Lee" White whole wheat bread. Was it not whole wheat? No came the response. "WHY??" she asked. Carolyn said, "You'll have to ask the FDA. It is their standard and they allow manipulation of labels to sell their products legally." It's true, only a small portion of the ingredients need to be the whole grain to be able to call it whole wheat or whole grain according to FDA standards. The FDA is the standard bearer to keep the food supply in proper order. The are assigned to test and check that companies are doing the right thing by us. However, the FDA has fallen far short of their goal to protect us and our food supply. If you are still not reading labels and accepting what is offered without questioning the ingredients in the foods you eat, wake up. Take time to read labels. Make yourself healthy, don't rely on a large corporation to do it for you.

The King Arthur has a lot of good information on bread and ingredients usage. Take time to visit their site and study it out for yourself.