Organic Flour – Scam or Super Food?
Many people assume that the most important thing they need to look for when buying a nutritious flour is to ensure that it is organic.
Now buying organic is a means ensuring that the raw materials are pure, but have you ever considered that the milling process might be as important as the raw ingredients?
The fact is that most people are buying organic flours which have been milled in such a manner that a huge proportion of its goodness has either been destroyed or thrown away.
Is buying an organic flour my guarantee of nutrition?
So no, buying organic flour does not ensure that the flour is either flavoursome or nutritious.
Wait a minute…are you saying that if I buy say, a nice Spelt organic flour, that it could be lacking in nutrition? That sounds pretty far fetched.
Yes that is the claim which I am making.
Well, if milling process is so important, just how is modern flour milled?
Roller milled flour – the disastrous revolution
Once upon a time, all flour milling was achieved by feeding grain into a stone mill. Two stones would turn slowly and gradually reduce the grain to a fine particle called flour.
The slow stone milling process meant low temperatures and low pressures. These conditions were optimal in preserving all the vitamins and minerals.
Grain is a complex food and contains many ingredients such as antioxidants, lignans, phenolic acids, amino acids, phytoestrogens, and other phytochemicals and the stone milling process ensures that all the nutrition and all the flavour are preserved.
The micro components of flour are tremendously important in maintaining health. It is only very recently that we are beginning to understand just how these chemicals actually works and how important they are to our overall health.
Heat and pressure are the prime enemies of food nutrition and it is significant that so many industrial processes denature food by extremes of pressure and heat.
Milk, flour, margarine spreads and vegetable oils are just some foods whose integrity can be violently degraded by the actual processing of the food.
“So you can start with great ingredients and end up with junk, says Ralph Waters, from Bethel Farm Mill in Australia.
“Roller milling is a very good example of how a nutritious and flavoursome product can be compromised by the actual processing of the product.”
So why is roller milling the normal modern way to mill flour?
Roller milling has one huge advantage in that it is super fast and very energy efficient.
How does roller milling of flour actually work?
The grain is fed through a series of around eight mills. Each pass reduces the particles to a smaller and smaller size. One roller rotates at a slightly slower speed than the other and the surface of the rollers is ribbed. The rollers rotate at high speed and the friction of the process creates really high instantaneous pressures and temperatures. The grain itself would cook were it not for the air transportation system which cools it along the way.
Okay, I get the stone ground thing, but why is whole grain so important?
“We now get to the main point….many organic flours are actually pathetic in nutritional value.”
How can this possibly be… I thought that organic flours were automatically superior?
The next part will really shock you.You see most organic flours have had most of the actual goodness removed quite deliberately in the milling process.
No way…You’re kidding! Why would they do such a crazy thing?
You see the thing which compromises the shelf life of flour is the part of the flour called the germ. The outer layer of the grain is the bran and it contains very little in the way of nutrition.
The endosperm contains mainly starch, but the germ, on the other hand, contains pretty much all the nutrition and flavour of the grain. Take that out and you are left with starch and starch is not a great food.
Many, if not most organic flours remove the germ as the oils in the germ contain gradually go rancid when exposed to air.
The aromatic oils are the things which give freshly milled whole grain flour such a wonderful aroma and flavour. But it is the oils which drastically limit shelf life. Most retail stores demand a 12-month shelf life but in hotter weather, a true whole grain flour in a paper packet will begin to go rancid in around three months.
So many retailers are deeply reluctant to buy a true wholegrain flour since they are aware that the reduced shelf life could leave them holding stock which is past its Best By date.
Packaging the flour in a tri layer bag with a foil layer helps shelf life tremendously but still a wholegrain flour will never last as long as a flour where the germ has been removed.
The bottom line
Many people are buying roller milled flour that has not only been severely compromised in nutrition and flavour by the high-speed milling process, and since, the flour itself has no germ it is very low on nutrition.
Well what do they do with the germ?
Believe it or not, in Australia, it is mixed with bran and sold as horse feed.
What can I do to ensure I buy a nutritional flour?
Buying organic flour is not a guarantee of buying a quality flour. The only real way to ensure true nutrition and flavour is to be sure that the flour contains 100% of the actual grain. In other words, ensure it really is a wholegrain flour.
Next, buy a stoneground flour. It will cost a little more but the benefits are well worth it.
The most important thing is to ensure your flour is wholegrain.
The next important thing is to then ensure that it is stoneground
Then ensure that your flour is organic.
Yes this requires a bit of due diligence, but after all, isn’t your health worth it?
If you have an organic flour which is not wholegrain, you are throwing your money away from a nutritonal perspective.
It can get pretty tricky as many countries have varying terms and definitions. For example, in some places, flour sold as “wholemeal” means that all the germ has been removed but that all the bran has been retained.So it is not wholegrain, even though it sounds close.
A statement that a flour is organic, is not sufficient to ensure that it is both wholesome and nutritious. In fact, if it is not labelled specifically wholegrain, you be pretty sure it has no germ content whatsoever.
This situation is tragic as we have many well intentioned buyers purchasing what they believe to be good natural wholesome food, when in fact the flour they are buying has been severely degraded.
If it is not both wholegrain and stoneground… then think again. you are probably wasting your money.