While there are other components of bread that make it even healthier (fermentation, how it is harvested and when) milling is a simple way to improve the health of the bread we consume. Today we are sharing an article out of our favorite 'homesteading' book called Rural Roads to Security, written by Joseph Husslein S.J. Ph. D. with an imprimatur from 1940.
MILLING AT HOME - A HOMESTEAD RESEARCH STUDY
… Our ancestors, the pioneers who subdued the virgin forests and conquered the frontier, subsisted on the hardy diet of whole grains. They could scarcely have survived the hardships to which they were subjected if they had consistently eaten what the American public eats today, chiefly breadstuffs made from denatured and debased wheat and corn, totally different products from the pioneers' whole grain breadstuffs.
The factory-begotten products, white flour, bleached middlings, starchy corn meal, parched corn flakes and bran, are undesirable forms of very desirable foodstuffs. The public is not eating a superior foodstuff because factories have taken over the milling of wheat and corn. On the contrary, in developing the many different industries which use wheat, corn, and other cereals to produce foods of various kinds, the millers have succeeded in eliminating from them most of the tissue-building vitamins, mineral salts and colloids, including the salts of iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, silicon, calcium, fluorine, magnesium, manganese, and sulphur. These are sifted out, leaving behind the white starch cells and refined gluten of the interior part of the kernel.
Whole wheat is now a negligible part of the milling industry, yet it contains far more nutriment than the anemic but universally popular white flour. Whole wheat contains 10.6 per cent water, 12.2 percent protein, 1.7 percent fat, 73.7 percent carbohydrates, 1.8 percent mineral matter; white flour contains 23.0 percent water, 11.4 percent protein, 1.0 percent fat, 75.1 percent carbohydrates, and .5 percent mineral matter. While the difference in protein (.7 percent) is of great importance, the difference in the mineral matter 72.2 percent) which contains most vital elements because enormous when you consider the fact that bread is still suppose to be the staff of life, eaten three times a day, every day of the year.
White bread not the staff of life
White bread is no longer entitled to be called the staff of life. It is rich in heat units (starch) but lacking in tissue-building and energy-giving material. Nutritionists who recommend white bread (and doctors who have a kindly word for it) usually add the highly important reservation that vegetables or other rich sources of minerals must be added to the diet to offset the deficiency in bread.
Careful scientific experiments have proved beyond doubt that white bread is not suitable for human or animal consumption. When monkeys, chickens, guinea pigs, or mice have been fed on an exclusive diet of white bread, they have lost weight, become diseased, and died. Numerous instances are recorded of human beings literally starving to death on white bread - the most conspicuous example being the loss of 4,000 men forced to live on white-flour diet while constructing 222 miles of track connecting Boliva and Brazil.
nor is factory-made corn meal
What is true of white flour and other bold and sifted wheat products is true of factory-made corn meal, whose fibrous outer coats, oily germ, and flinty starchy parts have been mainly eliminated. The nutritive differences between the commercial product which comes out of the modern high-speed mill and the whole grain which can be ground at home are enormous. The whole kernel contains 10 percent protein; refined corn meal, a fifth less - 8 percent; the whole kernel has 4 3/4 percent fat (a substance containing the "fat soluble A" which children require for growth and adults must have for good health), the refined kernel only about one fourth as much. Finally, the whole grain contains vitalizing mineral salts in the ration of 15 parts to 1000; in the factory product this has been reduced to 4 parts in 1000.
"The near-corn for which man tries with little success to develop an appetite," said Alfred McCann, "will kill poultry, hogs, and cows. Chickens feed on it will die in less than iffy days. Children fed on it to the exclusion of other offsetting foods will speedily develop pellagra. Children ed on it with insufficient of milk and fruit so lose vitality and resistance to disease that they become lazy victims of any infection that passes along."
consumption of white bread and refined grains has high correlation with many ailments
White bread is not a normal foodstuff; it is an artificial food developed to fit the needs of the milling industry. Until recent times, the diet of bread-eating peoples consisted entirely of dark breads, and in many parts of the world white bread is still unknown.
In spite of the claims made by the milling industry for white flour, the fact remains that the introduction of large amounts of white bread and white-flour products into the dietary of civilized peoples has had a deleterious effect on their health. Many authorities believe that the alarming growth of constipation, cancer, and nervous disorders might be correlated with the widespread consumption of foods made from ultra refined cereals. Far from providing adequate nutrition, white flour and breakfast foods are injurious to health and in two particular ways: First, they are so meager in cellulose, mineral sales, colloids, and vitamins that they lower resistance to disease. Secondly, they are not entirely digestible, hence cause constipation; and constipation, medical science recognizes, usual prepares the stage for the appearance of more malignant and degenerative diseases.
Doctors John H. Musser and George Morris Piersol, of the University of Pennsylvania, are specific in connecting the most common American ailment, constipation, with the irrational taste for white bread which the baking and milling industry has created in the public. "Dietetic errors," they say, "are among the most frequent general causes of constipation. These consist in food which is deficient in residue )bran) by reason of which the bowel is deprived of the mechanical and chemical stimuli necessary to promote proper intestinal activity." Their advice is to eat "whole wheat bread, whole rye bread, or pumpernickel - in preference to white bread." As far back as 1915, Docor Horace Packard, of bosom University, listed the consumption of refined cereals among the suspected causes of cancer. Speaking before the Surgical and Gynecological Society of the American Institute of Homeopathy, he said:
The human family is underfed in mineral salts. A momentous fact is that the flour mills of the civilized world are sending out food material rich in heat units but pitifully meager in energizing and immunizing matieral. Since a critical examination not the habits of life of civilized cancer-plauged people in comparison with the habits of primitive cancer-free people shows that the main difference between them is a dietary poor in mineral salts among the cancer-free people, the most logical and rational course is to adopt this as a keynote to cancer treatment.
Research at the Liverpool School of tropical Medicine proved that people who lived chiefly on bread made from wheat whose outer coats had been removed were subject to a form of peripheral neuritis. Dr. Benjamin Moore, Chief of the biochemical Department of the same institution, definitely associated the popularity of white bread with the growth of nervous diseases.
Our nerves as a nation are much less stable than in the days prior to the white bread diet. All our work suggests that the growing tendency of the age to neurasthenia, "nerves," etc., is not unlikely due to removing from our diet those very elements of feral food which nature has hidden in the husk of the grain, and which mann in his ignorance, discards.
why bleach flour?
Not content with turning out flour robbed of most of its health-giving qualities, the millers have further cheapened their product by bleaching it by an electrochemical process. Flour as it comes from the mill is not white but slightly yellow, owing to the presence of a valuable yellow food substance, carotene. Flour turns white by the natural oxidizing process of the air if allowed to stand for several weeks or months. Millers, however, cannot afford to store flour for so long a time and hence an artificial mode of bleaching was invent.d "What storage could not accomplish in 120 days, these bleaching processes miraculously do in one day!"
Bleaching not only destroys the carotene, a valuable source of Vitamin A (absence of which leads to retarded growth, poor appetite, and digestion) but leaves toxic deposits of nitrites in the flour.
The amount of carotene in the flour is so minute that, offhand,its destruction by bleaching might be regarded as unimportant But, as Dr., Monier Williams, of the British Ministry of Health points out, "bread forms a large part of the diet and the absolute amount of carotene which it can contribute is by no means negligible… If the consumer takes the trouble to think about it at all, he will, I think, prefer that all flour shall retain its natural color and not be treated with a highly active oxidizing agent such as chlorine, which may have unknown effects on some unsuspected, but possibly important constituent of flour."
Not only is bleaching undesirable because of injury to health, but it permits inferior, spoiled, and discolored flour to be blended with small amounts of superior flour, and the resulting mediocre though uniform product may be sold off as grade A patent flour. This stratagem rewards the miller with from fifty cents to a dollar extra per barrel.
Switzerland, France, and Denmark have forbidden the bleaching of flour. In the Inited States bleaching is permitted, although the practice was attacked as long ago as 1906. Several states passed laws barring it, and so much controversy arose that the United States Public health SErvice undertook an extensive study of the effects of bleaching. The gist of its findings, published in 1910, was that an amount of nitrates able the tolerance for safety was deposited in the flour, that this lessened the digestibility of the gluten in the flour, and that their ingestion should be decreed as much as possible.
Armed with this conclusive evidence, the Federal Government attempted to halt bleaching and actually won a victory over the milling industry in the Supreme Court. But, oddly enough, the Food and Drug Administration "read into the opinion of the Supreme Court an entirely antagonistic statement respecting injury to health … (and) the very law which the Supreme Court has said was enacted chiefly to protect the public has been turned not a measure to threaten public health and to defraud the purchasers of flour." Since the federal authorities were negligent, millers who at first refused to bleach were forced by competition to do so. The farthest the government would go in protecting the consumer was to require bleached flora to be so labeled if shipped in interstate commerce …
what american people could gain by milling at home
Milling equipment such as the School of Living recommends can be purchased for $37 (our note: obviously we have inflation since 1940, but modern home grain mills range from a couple hundred dollars onwards). The mill can be used to make all your flour and breakfast foods, as well as to grind course feeds for cattle and poultry. This mill utilizes self-aligning burrs for the actual grinding, instead of the great, clumsy millstones which were used before the modern roller mill took over the production of flour and cereals.
With one of these mills, you become independent of the flour and breakfast food factory. If every American family baked and milled at home, the American people would save $599,687,886 annually. (Our note: Vast even without inflation!)This vast sum could be diverted to the purchase of commodities which they cannot now afford.
The average family in the United States now consumes around 4.23 barrels of flour every year. Each mill put into operation in an American home would reduce the demand for factory-made flour and cereals by4.23 barrels. About 30 million of these domestic mills would destroy the milling industry and the 27.805 persons now employed in flour and feral mills would be reeled for other and more useful work.
If every family milled at home, it would do away with the incredible folly of concentrating huge armies of workers, salaried employees, and executives in the great cities where these large mills are now located; of shipping both the grain and its products back and forth across the continent; and of trying to support all these nonessential mills with superfluous million-dollar averting campaigns to persuade you to eat more flora and cereals.
If every family milled at home, it would improve the status of the farmer, who then would produce for a local or regional market, with prices fixed by local consumption. Sacks of wheat and corn would be sold in all grocery stores instead of sacks of flora and cartons of cereals. The farmer would be in closer touch with the consumer, and a large number of nonessential middlemen would be eliminated. The net result would be higher and more equitable prices for the farmer without increasing the price to the consumer.
In addition, if the demand for devitalized white flour, ultra refined corn meal, parched corn flakes, woody bran and the like ended, not only would the nonessential mills disappear, but many of our patent-medicine factors would have to close. For a large part of the stock remedies in modern drugstores consist of patent and purgatives in liquid, powdered, and pill form. These products which are absolutely essential in this age of white flour and refined grains, become more or less nonessential if some of the principal dietetic causes of constipation are eliminated.
This post is part of the weekly Homestead Barn Hop and Heritage Homesteaders Hop, click to view more homesteading posts from other bloggers.
My name is CeAnne, wife to my Farmer and mama to 4 adopted kiddos. I help farm lov'n mama's (and grandmas) turn common herbs into powerful medicines without being overwhelmed. Here you will find all sorts of nourishing goodness on natural medicine, herb gardening and wholesome real foods. Read more about our farm HERE.