Friday, January 26, 2007

Question everything...assume nothing.

As a responsible consumer, I read the labels on my food items, both ingredient listings and nutritional breakdowns, trusting that by doing so, I am selecting the healthiest products for myself and family.

Apparently, I have been misled.

In her January 16th column entitled The Enlightened Eater (
The National Post), Rosie Schwartz, a registered dietitian wrote about the designation "whole grain" which one sees on breads and cereals. According to Canada's Food Guide we are encouraged to consume as part of our daily food intake, several servings of grain products AND to select products which are made with WHOLE grains. By definition a whole grain is made up of the bran (outer shell), the endosperm (the "guts" of the grain) and finally the germ (the embryo part that if fertilized will sprout the next generation). As Ms. Schwartz explains, "'s this whole package - the germ, the bran and the endosperm, in the proportions naturally found in the grain - that have been shown to offer a defense against disease."
Brace Canada, allowable by legislation, producers are labeling "whole wheat flour" but using a grain that has had "about 70% of the wheat's germ removed"! Out with the bath water (or whatever process is used) are a percentage of antioxidants, B vitamins, fibre, carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and healthy fats. An explanation given to Ms. Schwartz by an industry insider was that this modified whole grain was more in keeping with the consumer's taste preference.
This revelation was news to Ms. Schwartz and other dietitians she approached.

I am certainly surprised and frustrated by this. What choices do I have? If I make my own bread, it too would not contain a whole grains because the "whole wheat" flour I buy is also modified? Ms. Schwartz did say that submissions could be made to Health Canada about this very issue, however, I did not receive a reply to my email inquiry to her, whether or not anyone could make a submission.

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Elise said...

It seems the wheat germ shortens the all-important shelf-life of commercial products because it can become rancid. Short of buying whole wheat kernels and grinding them ourselves (a tedious process, even with a machine. No wonder our ancestors had a specialist grain miller in each village!), it would be hard to be sure of anything, I guess. I used to get true whole-wheat refrigerated flour in Montreal, but I have never looked for it here. A bit discouraging for all of us who try to eat close to nature.

Elise said...

So I asked my bread-making husband and he reminded me that he uses the most "whole" of wheat flours and then adds wheat germ (kept in the fridge). He must add some un-bleached bread flour or the end result is too heavy. This makes a really yummy chewy bread! i wonder if any small-scale commercial bakers make a similar product. Do you know of any?