The Early History of Grains
As long as primitive man could live in areas where fresh food was available for 12 months a year, he had little need for agriculture. Fruits and vegetables, alternating with fresh raw meats, were well supplied. Hunting and gathering were the primary methods for sourcing food. Agriculture wasn’t part of the picture.
With the converging factors of climate change coupled with migration of primitive tribes, new food gathering methods had to be devised. Man needed to find some way to store nutrients for periods of time when no fresh foods were available. Seeds, such as cereal grains, seemed to be one way to solve storage problems. Ultimately this seed storage led to man becoming more agriculturally oriented.
Grains were likely among the first cultivated crops. They were not as tasty or beneficial as fresh fruits and vegetables, but they could be grown relatively easily, farmed in quantity and were suitable for storage in harsh cold winter climates.
Interestingly, the agricultural development only occurred about ten thousand years ago—a very short length in the half-million year or so span of man. With this growing of grains, cooking developed. If cooking had not started, it is doubtful the cereal crops would have been of much use to man. Cooking, the first form of food processing, developed simultaneously with grain agriculture.
Early grain processing seems to have consisted of either toasting the whole grain, or heating it up in watery mixtures, such as porridges or gruels.
By the time of history recording began, man had learned to process the grains farther and farther until he was finally able to made bread from his crops.
The Loaf of Bread
Until about 3000 B.C., grains were pounded in mortars to make a rough meal from which the bran could be partially sifted. This meal was then mixed with water and heated to form porridge.
The Egyptians developed a grinding process in which the grain was crushed between two rolling stones. This allowed the endosperm of the grain to be reduced to a fine four so that it could be sifted finer and finer fron the coarser bran. This produced a flour that was refined enough for baking or bread-making purposes. As you can see, bread is a relatively new food in the diet of man. The loaf of bread, “staff of life,” has only been around for the last five thousand years or so, or less than 1% of man’s existence.
The Greeks improved upon the grain-grinding process with rotary grindstones, and by 500B.C., combined flour mills and bakeries were operating in Athens. Bread was being sold commercially, and already there were different types of bread one could buy (such as coarse barley bread for slaves, wheat for the upper classes, etc.)
It was the Romans who gave us our first “white bread.”
The Fall of the Roman Empire
During Roman civilization, flour milling technology rapidly developed, and soon the Romans were making four or five commercial grades of flour. The finest flour, almost a creamy color and not quite as white of that of our white bread today, was sold only to the upper classes. Interestingly, the wrestlers and athletes of that time were fed the coarser grade of flour to “keep their limbs strong.”
Of course the “finer” or more refined flour eaten by the Romans had far less nutritional value and was a more fractured and fragmented food than had been eaten by man until that time. The Romans, associated their new white bread with goodness, purity , nobility and birth. These emotional feelings of refinement, higher living, snob appeal, etc. soon became inseparable from the texture, taste and appearance of the white bread. As in modern times, the rich or upper class were the first to adopt the highly refined foods as a mark of “class distinction.” The health of the Roman upper class degenerated through the years—some blame it on the lead content in their cooking vessels, and others point to their new fondness for white bread. Whatever the reason, as the health of its leaders failed, the Empire itself crumbled.
After the Romans, it was 1500 more years before the “art” of flour refining reached this height again.
So, what can we learn from this bit of history? Have we proven anything other than that man became increasingly sophisticated in his bread-making abilities? Fortunately, we can trace the health of man as he began eating more and more refined products.
Refined Grains and Dental Cavities
By studying the skulls and tooth remains of ancient man, from 3000 B.C. all the way to the twentieth century, researchers have been able to devise a table showing the amount of tooth decay experienced by man during various time periods. Let’s look at the figures:
|Dental Cavities from Ancient Times to the Present:|
|Time Period:||Percent of Teeth with Cavities:|
|100 A.D. (Roman)||11%|
It is no coincidence that the Romans had far more cavities than any other ancient people; they also ate more highly refined flour products. After the “art” of flour refining was lost with the fall of the Roman Empire, notice that dental cavities decreased by half, or almost back to their levels before refined flour products were introduced. Then, less than a thousand years later, the cavities’ percentage of modern man has increased five times over most ancient peoples. Needless to say, there has been an enormous increase in the amount of increasingly refined flour products in the last few hundred years. Do you think there is a connection? We do.
As poor as refined flour and bread products have been throughout history, they were still able to support life, but not enhance it. With the nineteenth century however, the quality of bread became so poor that it was anti-life or actually destructive to life.
In 1826, an experiment was conducted with the newly developed white bread of industrial England. The researchers discovered that a “dog fed on fine white bread does not live past the 50th day. A dog fed on the coarse whole bread lives and keeps his health.”
Bread Not Fit To Eat
In the nineteenth century, mass production of bread began in earnest. In fact, the first assembly line in the world was devoted to making sea biscuits for English crews. This mass production of bread required that the product have good storage qualities.
This extended storage time for bread is the most often cited reason for the amount of refining done to the flour. The nineteenth century miller and baker soon discovered that the germ of the wheat contains oils and these oils go rancid over a period of time. The germ and the aleurone layers of the grain also contain the major food value of the grain, and these attract rodents and bugs. Remove the nutrients, refine the flour even more, and the rats and insects will leave it alone. Simply—rats and insects know what many humans still don’t know: that such refined flour products cannot support life and are worse than worthless to eat.
This removal of the wheat germ and other nutritive factors from the bread as a convenience to the baker and NOT the customer marked the beginning of an era in food production. As bread-making progressed in the 1800s and 1900s, any changes made in the process were always done to benefit the producer—not the consumer. The consumer, rather, was simply encouraged with advertisements to adapt their taste to the type of bread that was best suited for mass production and rapid turnover. Bread was the first “technological” food; it was industrial food for the masses, cheap in cost and devoid of nutrition. Bread was the first junk food.
A Loaf of Chemicals
Bad as bread was in the 1800s and through the mid-1900s, it became much, much worse after the end of World War II The chemical warfare banned in the war of Europe was just transplanted to the bakeries of America as the breadmakers began to slowly poison their customers with all sorts of new additives, bleaches and preservatives.
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. Are they dangerous? Germany banned all such oxidizers back in 1958!
For softness and that white-bread texture, mono- and diglycerides are added to the bread dough at the rate of about ¼ pound per year per person consumption. The effect is to make the bread more “plastic” or squeezable—nobody knows the effects on those that eat such additives.
What has happened since World War II is that man, for 5000 years previously, mechanically altered the wheat molecule by pounding and grinding. Now he has been chemically manipulating and reorganizing the wheat molecules. These chemical alterations in our food must have serious and long-time effects on those that eat such foods.
Out of the 100 pounds or so of commercial bread eaten each year by the average person, he also eats besides the refined flour such things as 2 pounds of salt, 3 pounds of sugar, 2 pounds of skim milk powder, 2 pounds of yeast, 1 pound of “enzyme activator,” ½ pound of sulfate, chloride and bromate chemicals, and ¼ pound of other food additives. When all these chemicals and non-foods are eaten together, a multi-toxic effect occurs that has never been thoroughly studied by scientists.
Are Homemade and “Whole Grain” Breads Any Better?
By now, most health-conscious people know that commercial breads (yes, even “whole-wheat” and “organic” ones) are health destroying foods. Sorry to say, this goes for home-made breads as well.
Unless a baker freshly grinds their flour from organic, whole grains immediately before they make bread, they’re still going to be using a substandard, toxic and probably rancid flour.
Even if they use freshly ground flour, they still must add such things as salt, a sweetener, maybe some yeast, possibly eggs, milk, etc. and the product has been transformed into a mishmash of indigestible food combinations. Heat added to the mixture adds to its toxicity and reduces its any nutritional value further.
Some people who feel that they must have bread have managed to compromise by making an uncooked product using only sprouted grains. Used in moderation, these might be acceptable foods—however due to its starchy and dehydrated nature, such foods are neither needed nor necessary for an optimum diet.
Bottom line: grain should only be eaten if fresh fruits, vegetables sprouts, nuts, seeds, fish, chicken or meat is not available.
This article is taken all and in part from an article by Mike Benton entitled, “Refined and processed Foods are Hazardous to Your Health” originally printed in The Life Science Health System.
Cereals: How Healthy Are They?
The First “Health” Food
In the late 1880s, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg ran a sanitarium for vegetarian Adventists. Searching for a healthy meat substitute for his patients, Dr. Kellogg invented “Corn Flakes” in 1895.
One of Kellogg’s patients, C.W. Post, was experimenting on himself to devise a “food cure.” He came up with “Grape-Nuts,” and the breakfast cereal industry was born.
Within five years, Post’s cereals were making over a million dollars a year, and Kellogg had taken over the town of Battle Creek, Michigan with his cereal factories. Up in Niagara Falls, Nabisco’s Shredded Wheat had arrived on the scene, and the dietetic character of our Nation was being slowly molded.
These three cereal companies were almost solely responsible for making refined cereals a major part of the American diet. The cereals were originally promoted for their supposed health benefits, and industrialized America was ready for its first “convenience” foods. Breakfast cereals had successfully been advertised and marketed to become the first commercial “health” food.
How Healthy Are Cereals?
Television commercials tell us that if we eat one cup of this or that specially fortified cereal, we’ll get 100% of almost all of our vitamin and mineral requirements. What they don’t tell you is that these vitamins and minerals are in-organic fillers and additives which have been laced through sugar filled products that are destructive to our health and well-being.
Nor do they tell that the reason those vitamins etc. need to be added in is because all the original nutrients in the grain have been heated, rolled, puffed, squeezed and sugared out of existence. The vitamins and minerals are added so the manufacturers can justify the prices they change for a product that may be only slightly more nutritious than the box it comes in.
And the cereal manufacturers really blow their own horns about these minuscule amounts of nutrition by the advertising on the boxes and on television. If your chief source of nutritional information about breakfast cereals has been the charts and panels on the sides of cereal boxes, then the following facts may open your eyes to one of the biggest food frauds of the twentieth century.
It Used to Be a Grain of Corn
What is a corn flake? Did you ever wonder how it is made?
First, the kernels of corn are soaked in lye. Lye is a caustic, corrosive substance that will burn skin off your body. It is used for making rayon, soaps and – breakfast cereals.
After the soaking, the kernels are blasted by live steam. Then a flavoring syrup full of mostly white sugar is poured over the soaked and steamed corn.
Next, the kernels are dried until they are hard. Then they’re run through huge rollers that press down with 75 tons of pressure to flatten them out. Now they’re ready to be toasted, heated and flaked one more time. Then, they get their last dosing of preservatives, additives and chemicals and are packaged up in brightly colored boxes with a picture of an athlete, animal or cartoon character on the front.
Originally you had a grain of corn, fairly rich in protein, phosphorus, Vitamin A, and the three major B vitamins. Now you have a sugar-frosted flake that has no original vitamins, few minerals and an altered protein base that is harmful to the body. What’s more, you’re probably paying five to ten times as much for this processed, denatured food than when you would if you had just purchased the whole grain.
Why Do People Eat Prepared Cereals?
The American public has been completely sold on the healthfulness of eating an early morning breakfast and on eating cold cereals as a convenient, nutritious breakfast food. Consider what Richard Carter, author of “The Unappetizing Truth About Dry Cereals,” says about cereal consumers:
“As they put this mixture into their mouths, many of the feeders actually glow with a sense of well-being. Decades of tradition and millions and millions and millions of dollars in advertising have trained them to regard their ready-to-eat breakfast cereals as the last word in morning nourishment. Any suspicion that the stuff is nutritionally inferior to any other breakfast foods, like fresh fruits, is bound to be dispelled by the sales literature printed on the beautifully printed colorful boxes.”
So people eat breakfast cereals because: 1) they feel that they should eat something every day as soon as they get up, according to conventional nutrition that will make you fat; 2) cereals require a minimum of preparation and are easy to eat (but not easier than a whole banana or apple); people believe that the cereals themselves furnish “minimum daily requirements” due to added vitamins and minerals.
In response: 1) Most people would be better off if they did not eat first thing in the morning. This is the body’s time to clean house and it is not ready to digest food. Greater health would result if everyone started the day with two big glasses of water, a little muscle stressing for a minute or two and then a piece or two of fruit, once you establish you are really hungry and not simply thirsty.
2) Fruits are far superior to cereals as a nutritious breakfast food—no milk, no bowls, no preparation or clean up whatsoever. 3) Added nutrients to food (“fortified” foods) are not utilized by the body like the naturally occurring organic elements. They in no way replace or serve the same functions as do vitamins, minerals, and co-existing nutrients in natural foods.
The Real Harm of Breakfast Cereals
For many people, breakfast is the same almost every day of the week. Most peple eat breakfast out of habit. The rarely make a conscious decision as to what to eat first thing in the morning, and so if they eat cereals they do so almost every day.
The cereal habit is hard to break not only because of mental habits, but because the high-sugar content of the cereals can create a physical, addictive habit as well. The most popular cereals are still 25% to 50% refined white sugar, which makes them sweeter than chocolate candy. Granola bars or other “health” food cereals are hardly better. They have simply disguised sugar in the form of honey and maple syrup, or things like high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners that are health disasters in the making.
Eating such heavily sweetened breakfast cereals first thing in the morning plays havoc with the blood-sugar levels and creates the conditions for a life-long sugar addiction.
This article is taken all and in part from an article by Mike Benton entitled, “Refined and Processed Foods are Hazardous to your Health” originally printed in The Life Science Health System.