Last night I read "the five fundamental transforamations to our foods and ways of eating". (Is that where the period goes? Susan? Joe?)
"Refining grains extends their shelf life (precisely because they are less nutritious to the pests that compete with us for their calories) and makes them easier to digest by removing the fiber that ordinarily slows the release of their sugars. Also the finer that flour is ground, the more surface area is exposed to digestive enzymes, so the quicker the starches turn to glucose...
"Refined flour is the first fast food...
"Before the roller-milling revolution, wheat was ground between big stone wheels, which could get white flour only so white. That's because while stone grinding removed the bran from the wheat kernel (and therefore the largest portion of the fiber), it couldn't remove the germ, or embryo, which contains volatile oils that are rich in nurtients. The stone wheels merely crushed the germ and released the oil." (107-8)
Pollan goes on to tell us that the germ that was released, but that also gave off a stinky odor and therefore was undesirable, actually contained "protein, folic acid, and other B vitamins; carotenes and other antioxidants; and omega-3 fatty acids." (108)
I wake up the next morning and go with Wyatt downstairs for some breakfast. Downstairs, you question. Yes, downstairs. We spent the night at Tom's parents' house, as we were having our early Christmas celebration. Shannon and Jason came up early so they don't have to come in December when she will be just three or so weeks away from delivering baby #4. I open the pantry and think, cereal. I know, how can I give him cereal after reading that scandalous information? Easy; he doesn't like eggs and we can't afford to give him yogart every morning. (How many yogarts do you know of that are inexpensive and don't have high fructose corn syrup or aspartame in them?) Life cereal looks like a sure bet, a little bit sweet (6 grams of sugar for 3/4 cup, not bad) and it has the guy with the black hat on the front. He kind of looks like a modern-day Moses, except he's a Quaker. The Quaker. Anyway Wyatt ends up eating the equivalent of about two bowls and is happy. Meanwhile I look at the box.
Oh no! What a scam. My eyes have been opened and now I feel like a terrible mother. On the box it states it is "an excellent source of B-vitamins to help convert food into energy". Is this the vitamin B that has been removed because it has been crushed to an unrecognizable state? Am I to believe that my son will have more energy from eating this pre-packaged food? Argh, this is so hard. The ingredient list starts off with whole grain oat flour, then sugar. Does one counteract the other? I'm so confused. Michael Pollan, help me!
Only two hours later I find out that Shannon, my Texan sister-in-law, ground her own wheat not long ago. And she said it wasn't too hard. About a year ago I had a woman ask me if I ground my own flour and I tried to not laugh out loud (and that's hard for me). Grind my own flour? I have indoor plumbing and electricity. Why would I grind my own flour? I wear pants and don't cover my hair, where would I get whole wheat? I have a car and lots of grocery stores, why waste time on making wheat into something edible when it already comes like that in a bag?
My trouble now is that I'm not asking myself those questions any more.
I realize that it will be a long journey before I convert to gluten-free baking. I prefer my bread to be light and moist and less like dehydrated space food. Cookies aren't good for you anyway, why try and mask them with healthy things like gluten-free flour, if there is such a think?
And this is my dilemma: I love to cook. More specifically, I love to bake. There are few things in life that can't be made better with a nice baked goodie. But I'm beginning to wonder, would some more whole grains in my diet kill me? Actually, it would probably help me, and my kids, live longer. And little by little we might notice a difference in our enery levels and overall health. There may even come a time in our lives when we don't have to take strawberry-flavored fish pills to get our Omega-3. Can you imagine?