The following applies to you unless you have specifically asked your baker questions about their flours. If your ‘baker’ is the supermarket, then this applies to every item containing flour on their shelves.
In manufacturing, time is money, which turns out to be not such a healthy process for food. While it is true that white bread is not as healthy as whole grain bread, most of white’s troubles began when we discovered how we could produce bread quicker than we were. Before that it didn’t really get eaten, because that would have been a waste of food.
A kernel of grain which becomes flour is made up of three parts – bran, germ, endosperm. The first two are the healthy bits, the last is the ‘white’ bit. The industrialised method of milling allows us to feed a greater many people than the old stone milling did – by reversing the old processes.
– Milling the ‘slow way’ grinds all three parts together in cold rollers (and sieves to get white flour).
– Milling the ‘fast way’ separates the healthy bits during grinding with hot rollers to end up with only the white bit (and adds the healthy bits back in later for whole grain).
A friendly, more detailed explanation can be found here, but the bottom line is ‘slow flour’ – white or whole grain – is healthier than ‘fast flour’, it’s not about white vs whole grain.
So, the vast majority of flour that goes into making bread is lacking nutrients – it doesn’t matter what you add to it later, it’s not as healthy if the grains haven’t been ground properly. Every item in the supermarket has ‘fast flour’ – even the ones that look healthier; without checking I’m going to suggest every item at chain bakers has it; even the most of the smaller bakers – because the price is less.
Can’t blame them for buying the cheaper product, but as we’re finding out – the lower the price the worse it is for your health. It will be a little hunt to find ‘slow flour’ and bakers, but it will be worth it, and we can eat all breads with a healthier conscience.
Humanity has fed itself with bread for thousands of years, only in the last 50 years has it become unhealthy. Let’s get back to eating old school bread, it’s way more delicious too! Better still, try to bake your own as often as possible, but make sure you buy proper flour. It’s not that hard or time consuming to make your own, often I prepare the dough at dinner time, let it rise before bed, then leave it (sealed) in the fridge overnight ready for baking in the morning, perfect!
Small Habit, Big Change – Seek out stone ground millers and bakers, choose proper bread.