Gluten Free? Paleo? Atkins Diet? Grain Brain? Trim Healthy Mama? Every other diet article, or more, has some new bit or recipe about why grains are bad for us and why we should avoid them in our diet. The amount of gluten free information in our current times is amazing, do we really have a celiac epidemic on our hands and is wheat really the broken staff?
We are sharing another bit from Father Muller's book called The Church and Farming which was written in 1952. We previously shared the chapter titled The Factors to Proper Nutrition. Today's chapter is about flour milling and bread, where he shows us that it is NOT the bread itself but rather the broken process. From the soil to the making of the bread it is the process that is causing ill health. While the gluten free movement is rather new, the history of bad wheat growing and bad bread making, sadly, is not.
Flour-Milling and Bread
The Church and Farming
By: Father Fahey + Imprimatur 1952
What happened to flour-milling in the period preceding 1890? The sad story is related in the chapter of Tomorrow's Food entitled The Broken Staff. "Seventy-five years ago," we read, "there was scarcely a substantial stream in the settled parts of America that did not turn the rumbling water wheels of one of more stone grist mills. The total number of these mills in 1884 was 27,509. Two years later 6,000 of these small mills in 1884 was 27,509. Two years later 6,000 of these small mills had stopped grinding and during the succeeding decade the local milling industry was nearly extinguished. Minneapolis took over the business, by virtue of the superior productivity of the steel roller mills that the Washburn and Pillsbury Companies had adopted a decade before. From the point of view of the millers of Hoffenberger mill had everything to recommend it. True, it turned out a flour from which the nutritionally precious germ, the mineral and vitamin-rich middlings, and the outer bran coating had been completely removed. but it was white and it had excellent keeping qualities, for the reason that being mostly starts it had little in it to attract insects Foot note inserted here:
Here it will not be out of place to quote a few phrases from the speech of Lord Addison in the English House of Lords, in the debate on the Wheat Content of Bread, 28th February, 1945. The noble Lord is reported in Hansard as saying: "If you take a bigger proportion of these valuable constituents out of the wheat, what remains is a greater portion of starch, and you may be able to sell what you take out- they are commonly called offals, but they are not offals in the colloquial sense of the term, at any rate in a very profitable way. This is a fact; we know that it is so... I remember calling attention to the fact that, by the modern methods, operating on this very white flour, it was possible to produce eight more quartern loaves per sack of flour than only one answer to that question: water... 'The problem of the scientific baker is to make water stand up!' The more nearly you make your flour consist of starch only ... the easier it is to make water stand up."
... Because of its tremendous speed and output, the steam-powered roller mill was precisely the invention needed to complete the centralization of the American milling industry. And because of the serious devitalization and impoverishment of the flour it produced, it played a major part in filling up the dietary deficiencies with which the nutritionists of World War II were obliged to deal. By the turn of the century most of the old mill wheels were rotting in the streams." (To-morrow's Food, pp. 37, 38, 60)
The results of the roller mill with regard to bread may be summarized in the words of Dr. Norman as follows: "In 1840, one ounce of genuine un-spoiled whole wheat bread made of whole stoneground wheat (not flour) contained thirty units of vitamin B1. One hundred years later, one ounce of white bread contained not thirty, but five unites of vitamin B1. Seven hundred units of vitamin B1 per day are considered necessary for the maintenance of good health. The daily consumption of whole wheat bread in 1840 assured 1,200 units of natural vitamin B1, while our average daily intake to-day assures only 200 units, mostly synthetic. Besides being robbed of vitamin B1, the wheat berry is robbed of other known and unknown dietary factors - proteins, other important fractions of the vitamin B complex, vitamin E, and a number of essential minerals. Footnote:
Anaemia from iron deficiency is a common cause of lowered vitality among poor women, particularly in pregnancy, and among their infants" (Medical Research Council's Memorandum on Bread. The Lancet, Aug. 3, 1940). According to the same Memorandum, the use of Baking Powder destroys the vitamin B content of bread, whether made from brown or white flour.)
To produce commercial white flour, the removal of these essential nutrient facts is considered necessary in order to decrease spoilage and to produce profits. White flour is sold to the bread or baker industries; part of the bran finds its way into bread factories for consumption by diabetics; middlings are processed by the breakfast food and cereal factories to give the gullible their quota of morning 'pep'; part of the wheat germ and wheat germ oil finds its way to the drug factories to be processed for pharmaceutical distribution where childless couples are urged to purchase it to restore their sex fertility - and most of this would be unnecessary if we ate foods as produced by Nature. Footnote: "Sterility due to vitamin E deficiency is commoner in women in England than had been suspected. This is not surprising when one bears in mind that the best sources of the vitamin are wheat germ and green vegetables and that large numbers of the poor people to-day live on diets consisting chiefly of white bread (which does not contain the germ) and containing very small amounts of green vegetables or salads" (The Englishman's Food, by Sir Jack Drummond, p.103). Quoted by Dr. Lionel Picton in Thoughts on Feeding, p. 168 Thoughts on Feeding is published by Faber and Faber, London.
What is left of the wheat berry is sold for livestock food. Other grains and cereals, including polished rice, are subjected to similar processing.
"Briefly summarized, the steel roller mill, mono crop agriculture, failure to conserve the soil or replenish it with humus, the combine, cyanosis treatment, separation of grains and cereals into several fractions which are used and sold separately, the centralization of the milling industry, etc., have dangerously altered our food economy and culture with respect to breadstuffs. Sadly enough, instead of the consumer receiving nutritious bread products at a cheaper price, he buys a starch product of dubious and unproved nutritive value, which as to be enriched before it is considered fit to eat, and pays an exorbitant price for it. (Lecture on the Fundamentals of Nutrition for Physicians and Dentists.)
Dr. Norman's teaching is fully endorsed in an editorial on Our Daily Bread in the British Medical Journal, Oct. 13, 1951. We read there in: "It is difficult to believe that the insipid starch sponge sold as white bread really earns the alternative title of 'staff of life.' Yet we are assured that this is what the public wants, even though a minority craves for something more palatable- a minority which will heartily endorse Sir Edward Mellanby's plea that wholemeal bread and flour be made more freely available. Some of the millers' steel rollers might play a more direct part in the re-armament program. Nutritionally there is nothing to commend in the activities of those who separate the starch from all the other valuable nutrients of the wheat grain. It is sometimes argued that milling provides a valuable food for pigs, but the separation of the two elements of the grain creates nothing, and both man and his pas might be better for getting their proper share of the wholegrain."
A few supplementary remarks must now be made about brown bread, bleaching and phytic acid. They will serve to complete the picture.
"Writing a few years ago in the British Medical Journal, Mrs. V.G. Plummer, the well-known dietitian, stated: 'There can be no white bread versus brown bread controversy except among those who are ignorant of the facts.'" (Honest Bread and that which is not, by Bertram T. Fraser and C. Leslie Thompson, p.12 (Thorns Publishers, Ltd. 91, St. Martin's Lane, London, W.C.2)) Why is this? Because brown bread may be 100 per cent stoneground wholemeal, from which real honest bread can be made, or it may be white flour, steel-roller-ground, with some of the elements that have been removed in the process thrown back. The result of this manipulation is sometimes termed wheatmeal or wheaten loaf, but it must not be confused with 100 per cent wholewheat or wholemeal. (Cf. Honest Bread and that which is not, p. 10)
The bleach in regular use for twenty-five years was nitrogen trichloride. In an article in the Summer (1947) issue of Soil and Health, a summary is given of the paper from the pen of Sir Edward Mellanby, MD., F.R.S., on Diet and Canine Hysteria, which appeared in the British Medical Journal of december 14, 1946. Sir Edward conducted a series of experiments of dogs, and it soon became evident that hysterical outbreaks were produced by a diet containing flour treated by the agent process. Gene consisted of approximately 1 per cent nitrogen trichloride in air saturated with water-vapor. The outbreaks were entirely absent when the same diet contained untreated flour from the same grist. Sir Edward concluded his paper with the words: "The abnormal behavior of the animals affected by the agonized flour suggests that the central nervous system is primarily affected by some toxic agent, but other organs may also be involved ... It is clear that investigations must now be made to see whether human beings are affected by bread made from flour improved by nitrogen trichloride." Footnote: The word "improved" has been italicized by me. From Honest Bread and that which is not, we learn that ...
"...the flour samples used in the experiments were subjected only to 'a normal commercial bleach.' They were not overdosed in any way."
The same writer (Bertram T. Fraser) quotes from an editorial in the British Medical Journal as follows:
"Whatever the true explanation of the action of bleached flour may be, it is clearly undesirable that food unfit for dogs should be eat by the human subject without at least a full realization of the dangers involved... The estimate that 90 per cent. of the flour consumed in this country is agenised cannot fail to give rise to some anxiety."
In replying on behalf of the Government, after a very interesting discussion in the English House of Lords on the Quality of Flour, Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough said: "The noble Lord, Lord Teviot, referred to the presence of agene in bread, and he went so far as to refer to it as a 'definite poison.' I would like to assure your Lordships that the present methods of treatment of bread, which have been widely used for twenty-five years, have not been proved injurious in any way to human beings. But recent evidence has become available such as that quoted this afternoon by the noble Lord, Lord Semill, of the possible toxic effects of this commonly used improver. Because of the evidence coming to light, certain experiments have been carried out, particularly on dogs. For this reason a committee on which the Medical Research Council is represented has looked into the matter and has recommended in future that, instead of the improvers which have been used, and upon which these experiments have been based, chlorine dioxide should be used. This recommendation has been adopted in the United Kingdom, but I ought to warn your Lordships that it will take a little time to change over the necessary plant to give full effect to this decision." (Hansard, April 25, 1950
My readers will notice that the sole preoccupation of the Minister was with the auxiliary machinery to be used in the mills to get the chlorine dioxide into the flour. He did not seem to be perturbed about the effect of this new substance on the organisms of the flour-consumers. Of course, he said that the Medical Research Council was represented on the committee that recommended it. But one may well ask what the Medical Research Council was doing during the twenty-five years of the nitrogen tricholoride regime. For Sir Edward Mellanby did not detect all its evil effects. "One year after the Mellanby report, Dr. Anton J. Carlson announced to the American Association for the advancement of Science his belief that agenised flour... is at least among the contributing factors to the nervous instability among the population that could be responsible for a portion of the up curve in public drinking. Dr. Carlson believed that although apparently normal people might show no symptoms comparable with those in dogs, agonized flour might be the final factor responsible for producing an alcoholic." Footnote (Honest Bread and that which is not, p. 64 Are we in the Irish Republic still living under the nitrogen trichloride regime? Or have we passed under the "more benign" influence of the chlorine dioxide "improver"? Two of my friends who visited a South of Ireland flour-mill, in the summer of 1950, were almost overcome by the fumes of the chemical department.
D.D.T. and Chemical Additives
Lord Douglas of Barloch spoke in the House of Lords, on 4th July, 1951, on the dangers to human health in the form of the use of poisonous chemicals, such as D.D.T., in the growing and preparation of foodstuffs. He pointed out that not only is D.D.T. exceptionally toxic, but that there is no known antidote. "It is absorbed by plants and cannot be removed. Hence, all fruits and vegetables which have been exposed to D.D.T., are carriers of it to the consumers. Animals fed on hay or other food exposed to it are affected. Owing to its solubility in fat, milk is especially affected by it. The spraying of D.D.T. in cowsheds has been found sufficient to affect the milk, and in the United States diary farmers have been officially advised not to do this. Butter sold on the New York market has been found with as much as thirteen parts per million of this dangerous drug ... D.D.T. has also been found in cigarettes up to as much as four parts per million (one part per million is enough to kill a rat) - presumably due to the spraying of the tobacco leaf... Some chemicals are used for 'maturing' flour in the space of a few hours, whereas nature takes weeks to effect this, and also for giving to inferior flour the characteristics of better flour. Others are used for a loaf which contains more air and water ... The use of agent has been discontinued in the United States. It took several years longer for a decision in principle to be reached in this country, and only a few weeks ago the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food stated that about 90 percent of the flour consumed in this country was agonized."
Footnote: Hansard, Vol. 172, No. 80. July 4, 1951
"So far as can be ascertained, infection has sometimes occurred through the consumption of contaminated food alone, or when D.D.T. has been used for a purely domestic purpose, such as moth-proofing... Contaminator may occur in any number of ways: through the consumption of butter or milk the product of animals which have consumed affected fodder... And so, although warnings against the indiscriminate use of D.D.T. have frequently been given or implied by the Soil Association, a reiteration of these warnings - which now hold additional weight in view of the increasing knowledge concerning the effects in actual preach of D.D.T. and other materials - must be made. And to back up this commendation, Dr. Morton S. Buskin's report, 'Statement on Clinical Intoxication from D.D.T. and other New Insecticides,' which the author has kindly made available to the Association, has now been published in booklet form and can be obtained in any quantity, at 6d. per copy from the Soil Association's Landon Office.
Chemical Treatment of Seed
In Pay Dirt, Mr. J. I. Rodale, Editor of Organic Gardening, after having spoken of the chemical treatment of seed with poisonous material to prevent "seed-borne diseases such as smut," and the spraying of stored wheat with syanogas, "which is a very strong poison," goes on to say: "This discussion has not taken into account the strong bleaches used to whiten flour. Labet, a French authority on the subject of bread, says, in the Bulletin of Hygiene: 'The danger of chronic intoxication following the persistent use of bread made with flour that has been bleached and artificially matured by means of chemical improvers is held to be sufficiently well established to make the absolute prohibition of the use of any chemical improver in France highly desirable." Mr. Rodale then continues: "Now we got a step further. What happens to the flour when it arrives in the bakery? In the book, Eat, Drink, and be Wary, by P.J. Schlink, appears this statement: 'The amount of lead which reaches the consumer's stomach via bakery goods must be enormous and gravely menacing to health, judging from the foregoing statement which describes a typical condition; and from the fact recently disclosed by an analysis conducted for Consumers' Research that ammonium carbonate, used commonly as a leaving (gas-forming) agent in certain baker's goods such as cookies and cakes, contained, as obtained from a commercial bakery in a large mid-western city, the enormous and treating proportion of 70 parts per million of lead ... Research in such contaminations is made very difficult so that a consumers' organization has the utmost difficulty in even getting samples of the very special and very peculiar materials used in the common baking industry - the various pie-filling mixtures, the highly colored and synthetic custards...'" (Pay Dirt, p. 120 The Devin-Adair Co. New York.)
May we not subscribe the words of the (then) Viscount Lymington
"White bread as we eat it now is a scandal and a curse to civilization ... White bread, like white sugar, is a shoddy cheap food that results in 5,000,000 pounds a year being spent in advertisements for patent medicines."
Footnote: England and the Farmer, p 19. Viscount Lymington is now the Earl of Portsmouth. It is not surprising that c. Henry Warren wrote some years ago: "Medical Science is largely occupied in adapting our bodies to an unnatural way of living, just as agricultural science is largely occupied i nadpating our land to an unnatural way of arming. The results are by no means encouraging either way." England and the Farmer, p. 66
It will be well, before leaving the question of processed flour and bread, to say a few words about the accusation brought against wholewheat bread of producing rickets in children. This accusation was made in a Report entitled The Incidence of Rickets and Wholemeal Bread, drawn up by two chemists, D.W. Kent-Jones and A.J. Amos, who followed up the line of research indicated by two other chemists, Widdowson and McCance, in 1942. Bertram T. Fraser examines the point at great length. "The government of Eire," he writes, "introduced a loaf made from 100 per cent wholemeal flour and this is blamed for the production of rickets in Dublin children because of the higher proportion of phatic acid in wholemeal. This substance runs off with lime to form an insoluble salt resulting in the loss of an element which is essential for the building of bones in growing children as well las for many other purposes. At first the chemists' arguments seems to be sound, so sound, indeed, as to lead one 'high authority,' according to the authors of the Report, to say that never again would he be so foolish as to advocate wholemeal bread after having seen so much misery and ill-health caused thereby.
"But the argument is not so sound as it appears, and the Report itself states the solution to the problem, although the authors of it have passed over very casually. Kent-Jones and Amos agree that there was a deficiency of lime in the Dublin children's diet. 'It may well have been,' they say, 'that the intake of calcium of the poorer classes in Dublin has always been on the low side, but it was apparently sufficient to prevent the deficiency of disease of rickets occurring.' They seem to have been satisfied because there was enough calcium to prevent rickets so long as the bread was white - a very poor standard indeed. Obviously the children were eating too much bread and too little lime-rich food, and to replace whole -flour by flour of lower extraction was simply to rob them further, but in less immediately obvious ways. When rickets appeared after the introduction of 100 per cent wholemeal, what the investigators should have seen immediately was that the children were living in conditions of lime-starvation." Honest Bread and that which is now, pp. 19,21,24
The authors of the Report admit that the trouble should have been met by increasing the consumption of calcium, for the Report concludes: "It is true that to counteract the troubles the total intake of calcium can be increased so that if some is rendered unavailable there will still be a sufficiency available." "Instead of advocating such a procedure," writes Mr. Fraser, "they preferred to condemn wholemeal. The dublin diet ought to have been gone into with a view to finding out whether it was well balanced, and inquiry made into such simple questions as to whether the vegetables were being conservatitivly cooked, were any gas greens being eaten daily and was the milk pasteurized and so made unfit for children to drink. Investigation along these lines would soon have revealed the true cause of the rickets." Footnote: Honest Bread and That which is Not, p. 25
"A quart of fresh unpasteurized milk contains a third of the adult requirement of vitamin C. Pasteurization robs us every year of as much ascorbic acid as is contained in the entire citrus crop of the Inited States. It also robs us of some calcium, which pasteurization converts to unassimilable forms. Are these losses any longer necessary to ensure that milk may not serve as a carrier of such diseases as bovine tuberculosis, septic sore throat, scarlet fever, typhoid, diphtheria, and undulant fever? Scarcely. (Tomorrow's Food, p. 102)
Mr. Fraser, as we have seen, examines the Phytic acid bogey very seriously. The authors of To-morrow's Food do not attach so much importance to it. "During World War II," they write, "the alleged 'phatic acid' hazard of whole grain bread caused a similar and equally ephemeral alarm. Experiments by McCance and Widdowson appeared to show that the large amount phytic acidic whole grain bread caused a drop in the absorption of calcium. In 1946 the 'phytic acid' bugaboo was authoritatively disposed of by the careful research of Walker, Irving and Fox, sponsored by the National Research Council of South Africa. The South African investigators showed that human body quickly adjusts to the higher phytic acid content of whole grain bread and that the initial loss of calcium is soon made up. This answers the question: Why did the peasant populations of Europe never experience any calcium deficiency because of their consumption of whole grain bread and flour? Realistic food scientist in this country had been prompt to ask this question when the 'phytic acid' bugaboo was first given currency by the commercial milling and baking interests." To-morrow's Food by J. Rorty and N. Philip Norman, MD pp. 64, 65
When we take account of the fact that calcium was added to bread in England in 1942, and that the addition was made compulsory in 1943 (Speech of Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough Hansard, April 25, 1950) it seems even more noteworthy that the report of Kent-Jones and Amos should not recommend that procedure but attack wholemeal flour. Since money can be made by "enriching" flour as well as by devitalizing it, it is significant that all the attention is devoted to the onslaught on the nutritionally superior food. Needless to say, the evil effects of pasteurization on the calcium in milk were not mentioned in the Report. It is imperative that food-processing combines be compelled to practice Social Justice and to subordinate their private profit making to the Common Good.
To eat bread or not?
Thank you, once again, Father Fahey for sharing with us your pearls of wisdom. Amazing how information from over 60 years ago may still be useful to us. Basic white flour is still bleached for the same reasons of preserving and making it a pretty white color. While D.D.T. was banned in 1970, Monsanto has developed a round up ready wheat (source). Which enters the realm of deciding if GMO's and Round Up are safe for us to use. Is it safer than D.D.T., which was just shown to be mostly in use because of the money to be made. That will have to be a post for another day.
Should we eat bread? It seems that from Father Fahey's words and from even more modern research that it isn't the bread/gluten that seems to be the cause of such high numbers of chronic diseases and illnesses. Rather it seems to be more the content of the soil, how and when it is harvested, how it is milled and how it is prepared. Along with the other aspects of our diet and how they work with bread for proper digestion and health. It seems that many diets focus on the QUANTITY of a certain for group without taking into mind the QUALITY of that food group. A proper balance is needed for both quantity and quality.
How can one put these wonderful pearls of wisdom to use in our time? It seems from the writings which we have shared today that one could improve health in steps: first off by baking our own bread, using a high quality flour or even grinding our own wheat. Being careful in the type of wheat that we choose insuring there are less pesticides and chemicals in them and also by souring our bread, which makes the wheat more digestible and lesses the level of gluten. Also improving the dairy that we consume, using raw milk when available or low heat pasteurized, organic with little to no chemicals and using that in reasonable amounts which may be easily dictated by price of high quality raw milk. Also making our cheese, butter, ice cream etc. from the same high quality milk. Fermenting it into kefir and yogurt also help the digestion of the milk and make the nutrients more available.
Find a recipe for homemade sourdough here. With just a few minutes a day will have you wonderful healthful bread. Make sure you also checkout the next chapter in Father Fahey's book titled Food Processing and Health.
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