Archive for April 27, 2007

Refined tastes


I have been talking a lot about eating organic and eating local, and eating less meat.  Continuing on the subject of reducing the environmental impact of food, I want to talk about another aspect that has recently been on my mind – refined foods. I am, especially, referring to flour, bread, rice and sugar.

Refining grains, including rice and wheat, consists in the mechanic removal of the germ and the bran, leaving only the endosperm, the starch. As such, refined grains not only loose 90% of their nutritional value and fiber, they also consume a considerably larger amount of energy to produce than whole grains. If this was not bad enough, there is more. White rice grains are polished with glucose, starch or talc (which has been linked to stomach cancer and is still used in some countries), making it nice and shiny.

White flower, in turn, is only white because it’s bleached with ” potassium bromate, benzoyl peroxide  or chlorine dioxide gas. Potassium bromate is also known as Bromic Acid or Potassium Salt. It’s an oxidizing agent, can be fatal if swallowed, is harmful if inhaled or absorbed through the skin and may also cause kidney damage. Benzoyl peroxide is another irritant that can kill animals, birds, or fish, and cause death or low growth rate in plants. Chlorine Dioxide is also a pesticide and even though it breaks down very quickly, it is ranked in the USA as one of the compounds most hazardous to the environment.”[green living tips].

And that’s not the end of the story. Since all nutrients have been removed from the refined product, these are then often added back as synthetic vitamins, with the associated impact of producing them industrially. To add to the creepiness factor, nutrients are often ‘sprayed’ into the bread mixture.

My beef with refined sugar comes from the way it’s made, which involves either adding sulphur dioxide or phosphoric acid and calcium hydroxide, centrifuging and vaccum crystallizing. And brown sugar? I have been shamefully duped  into buying brown sugar, innocently believing that it was less refined than white sugar, and hence, better for the environment. But NO!!! Turns out, most of the brown sugar, including the one I have been buying, is actually produced by adding molasses/dye to … you guessed it…. refined white sugar! What a scam….

Now that I know the truth, I am know that, as a self-respecting  wannabe environmentalist, I have to take some drastic measures and pledging all refined things out of my life!

Rice grains by IRRI on Flickr.


April 27, 2007 at 1:59 pm 11 comments


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