Wheat Berries: The Real “Whole Wheat”
When grocery shopping for bread, a plethora of options is presented. You can get…
The marketing companies are full of wholesome sounding options…but most of us have caught on that it’s all a scheme to make the most money from the cheapest ingredients possible.
Chemicals in Commercial Wheat Products
The wheat products undergo chemical processing to make the pristine-looking white substance that most people envision when they think of “flour”. After the kernel is cracked open and ground, causing the nutritional benefits to be lost, it is chemically treated.
Even refined flour still has natural yellow pigments (such as carotene—a precursor of vitamin A). The millers discovered they could remove this color and make their flour even whiter by bleaching it. They started blowing chlorine gas into the flour after it was milled.Chlorine gas, a deadly poison if inhaled, not only bleaches the flour but also reacts with other molecules in the flour. Many potentially toxic chlorinated lipid compounds are formed from this chlorine gas, such as dichlorostearic acid. Chlorine also destroys major portions of Vitamin E as well as an important amino acid in the bread protein, methionine (which is classified as “essential” for human nutrition).
Other chemical oxidizers are added to bleach and “mature” the flour, such as nitrogen dioxide, bencoyl peroxide, potassium bromate, potassium iodate, and azocarbonamide. (Source)
During the processing, flour is “enriched” which means that the manufacturers replace the nutrients they’ve removed with synthetic alternatives which cannot be easily broken down and used by the human body.
After the nutritionless, synthetically-fortified flour is sent to a factory and turned into various boxed and bagged items, more chemicals are added to keep the texture soft (in some cases), keep the item from molding or spoiling, and to keep ingredients emulsified.
What was once a nutritional gold mine is now a chemist’s time bomb that your body is expected to digest and turn into energy.
Flour Most Foul
Many people have taken matters into their own hands and headed over to the baking aisle to purchase flour and make the bread themselves. Is the flour on the shelves any better than the loaves of bread in the tidy cellophane packages? What if you get whole wheat flour? Organic flour? A less refined flour?
Unfortunately, not really – within 24 hours of being cracked open and ground, 60% of the beneficial nutrients in a kernel of wheat have vanished due to oxidization. Within 3 days, more than 80% of the nutrients are gone. I know that in my own kitchen, I’ve had bags of flour that sat on a shelf in my pantry for months at a time.
Not only does flour lose its nutritional value, it begins going rancid very quickly – 3-6 months for whole wheat flour and approximately a year for processed white flour. Rancidity occurs when the oils begin to oxidize. Not only do foods made from rancid products taste less appealing, the rancidity is actually quite dangerous.
Lipid specialist and University of Massachusetts professor Eric Decker [says there are two problems with rancid products,] “One is that they lose their vitamins, but they also can develop potentially toxic compounds” that have been linked to advanced aging, neurological disorders, heart disease and cancer.“They’re carcinogenic, pro-inflammatory and very toxic,” says integrative medicine specialist Andrew Weil. “They are also widespread in the food chain.” (Source)
The only way to truly reap the many nutritional benefits from a whole grain is to actually keep that grain whole until just before preparing and eating it.
Intro to Wheat Berries
Wheat berries are actually not berries at all – they are kernels of wheat. I buy hard red wheat berries and they remind me of brown rice in appearance.
Why Your Wheat Should Be Organic
One concern that you don’t need to have: at this point there is
no GMO wheat being grown anywhere in the world. This being said, most of the wheat on the market is from hybrids (they are not considered to be genetically altered) that are nutritionally inferior to the wheat our ancestors ate. If you have the option, the very best wheat to grow or buy is organic Einkorn wheat
Making Bread from Fresh Ground Flour
Whenever I make bread from wheat berries I’m reminded of an epiphany in the story of Robinson Crusoe.
I foresaw that, in time, it would please God to supply me with bread…It might be truly said, that now I worked for my bread. I believe few people have thought much upon the strange multitude of little things necessary in the providing, producing, curing, dressing, making, and finishing this one article of bread.from Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
The idea of grinding my own flour was rather overwhelming. I was astonished to discover how simple it is with an electric mill. While I do have a manual grinder (Wondermill Deluxe Jr) as a back-up, the dry container of my Vitamix food processor does the job quickly and effectively. Including the process of sifting and regrinding the small amount of flour that isn’t fine enough, making my own flour adds less than 5 minutes to the bread making process for me. There are numerous electric mills on the market that add to the convenience without heating up your flour while grinding it.
Wheat berries are an ideal addition to your long-term food storage. They will remain fresh and delicious for up to 20 years if stored properly. When I priced it out in bulk, the difference between conventionally grown wheat berries and organic wheat berries was $5 for a 50 pound bag – that is so nominal I can’t imagine opting for the poison-soaked choice.
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Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor. Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org