In the last 100 years, the human diet has changed dramatically.
The way food was grown as little as 200 years ago is vastly different to what we see today. Farmers had their crops that they grew in relatively small amounts, enough to feed themselves and their family with any excess being taken to the market to either be sold, or traded for something else. It was more about survival, as opposed to being a business.
Fast forward to 2013 you will see a very different story. Farms are either owned or contracted to big multi billion dollar companies with the emphasis on maximum profit for their share holders, with quality of product coming a very distant second.
Take for instance the common breakfast cereal. Growing up, we were all told to eat our wheat based cereal, or puffed rice or cocoa flavoured whatever it happens to be. After all they are a great source of carbohydrates to give you the energy to get through the day. The food pyramid backed that advice up and out of it came some huge corporations who, although marketed to make it look like they cared about your health, really only care about faster production, greater quantities, better marketing and higher profit margins. But how do they make the wheat into a rectangular biscuit, or create a puffed grain and what exactly is in that cocoa flavoured thing?
It’s really not as innocent as you may have thought. The process that they go through to get to your bowl is quite involved and quite damaging to any nutrients that may have once been in the grain.
Firstly to grind a grain down to flour, they use high speed mills. Previously, large stones were used to grind them down to flour, but that was very costly and very slow. Now they use high speed mills that do it so quickly, it causes a huge amount of heat in the grain. High heat decreases nutrients.
Secondly, the ground grains are mixed with water to create what they call a slurry and forced through a machine called an extruder. An extruder is a machine with a tiny hole that the slurry is forced through at very high pressure and temperature, designed to create a product of a certain shape whether it be a flake, an O shape or whatever is required. Whole grains are also passed through the extruder which creates the puffed grain. All this heating and processing really destroys so many nutrients, basically all that is left is a mass of sugar. Really not healthy at all. But just to throw you off the scent a little bit, they are then “fortified” with some vitamins to make them even more healthy. The fact that they are synthetic vitamins which are a very poor substitute to the natural ones makes things even worse.
Last but not least, to keep them crunchier for longer once your milk is added, they are sprayed with a sugar/oil mixture so it takes longer for the milk to soak in. After all this processing, what you are left with is so far removed from the natural grain that was originally grown, that it’s not funny. It’s actually quite scary.
What really scares me is a study done in the 1960’s by Ann Arbor of the University of Michigan where they took 18 lab rats and split them into three groups.
Group 1 received corn flakes and water.
Group 2 received the cardboard box that the cornflakes came in and water. Sounds funny, but wait till you hear the results.
Group 3 were the control group who received rat food and water
As you would expect, the control group (group 3) lived a long life and remained healthy through the trial.
Group 2 as expected died of malnutrition.
However, no rats from group 1, who were eating the supposedly healthy cereal, outlived the group who were eating the cardboard box!
Conclusion, there is more nutritional value in the cardboard box than the cereal itself.
Enjoy your weetbix tomorrow.
Stay tuned next week and I will reveal a healthy recipe I use for breakfast each morning.