Wheat bread is not created equal
Mary Beth Bowers has one mission: to tell consumers that all wheat bread isn’t created equal.
“Unless it says whole wheat bread on the label, it’s not authentic,” the Wheat Commission member said. “They use all the wrong flours and then have to add all the good stuff back in – and in order to make it look like whole-wheat bread, they add caramel color to it.”
Bowers said the wheat bread deception started in the ’90s when white bread was the “in thing.” In an effort to increase profits and to decrease production costs, factories began to take all the nutritious parts — the endosperm, bran, and germ — out of the bread, leaving it without b-vitamins and replacing them with chemicals. She said that, in order to make the bread white, factories had to put powdered bleach in the tubs of flour to make it whiter quicker – a move that Bowers said isn’t necessary.
“If you just let it sit there for a while, the air will whiten the flour,” she said. “The only difference is speed. They don’t want to wait for it to whiten naturally, so they put chemicals in and hope people don’t notice.”
Bowers said the best flour to purchase is un-bleached, whole-wheat flour. It’s the type that doesn’t get tampered with, and produces the best results in baked goods.
“If you’ve got to go to the store and purchase flour, you want to get the one that is the most natural,” she said. “You don’t want to be giving any chemicals to your family. Anything that doesn’t say whole wheat, isn’t whole wheat. The plain old wheat bread just converts into sugar in your body. It has no other redeeming compounds. Remember, the vitamins and nutrients have been removed, so all your left with is a loaf of sugar.”
If there is an opportunity to purchase the natural product, Bowers said that is the way to go – especially if you have your own grinder.
“They’re not that hard to purchase, and they are a lifesaver if you’re doing a lot of processing,” she said. “There are ones on the market right now that are electric; it makes the grain pretty fine and it comes out in pretty much the same size.”
Recently, though, she has found an exception. Wheat farmers are now growing a genetically modified version that is naturally white, called White Wheat Flour, which she said can be found at Carlsons’ Grocery and other grocery stores in the county.
“It turns everything we know upside down,” she said. “It has all the nutrients, but has the desired look – and it’s a joy to bake with. It has a silky feel to it.”
Looking forward, Bowers said she doesn’t know what will come to the market, but she is sure of one thing: consumers need to be cautious in the grocery store aisle, checking to see that they are getting quality, chemical-free food to feed their families.
“You can’t be healthy in a fortified lifestyle,” she said. “The only way to do it is to go natural.”