The biggest single thing I learned about milling my own grain was how different it is from commercial milling practices.
There are Canadian Laws governing what has to and what my be done to call wheat flour, wheat flour. Unlike the laws regarding ingredient labelling on food, it is sufficient to say “white flour”. This is the link to the Canadian Government Website.
This is not applicable to sifted grains such as spelt, emmer or red fife, but it is for wheat.
To summarize the link, there are 2 main criteria that must be met in order to call flour, “white flour”.
- It has to be ground fine enough and enough bran removed to a threshold of not more than 149 microns.
- It must be enriched with thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid and iron.
In most cases, the enriched minerals are outlined on the label, but not required by the legislation.
The really interesting part about the law is the full page of what manufacturers ARE able to add. None of this is required on the ingredient label (because it is just widely, understood, right?).
Most of the additives fill the role of making the flour last longer, making it look better and more appetizing, or making it perform consistently or by performing better by enhancing gluten development and baking properties.
Here are some highlights of what is allowed. What these additives are the thresholds and what they do is beyond the scope of this webpage, but I invite you to do a little research on your own.
- amylase, amylase (maltogenic), asparaginase, bromelain, glucoamylase, glucose oxidase, lactase, lipase, lipoxidase, pentosanase, phospholipase, protease, pullulanase or xylanase, chlorine, chlorine dioxide, benzoyl peroxide, ammonium persulphate, ammonium chloride, acetone peroxide, azodicarbonamide, l-cysteine (hydrochloride), monocalcium phosphate.
The most news worthy additive on the list is azodicarbonamide. A few years ago, a major restaurant chain was forced to have their flour suppliers remove azodicarbonamide from all of their sandwich as the result of a blogger highlighting the fact that it is a key ingredient in making yoga mats.
Another fun one is l-cysteine; ….The majority of L-cysteine is obtained industrially by hydrolisis of human hair, poultry feathers, or hog hair, with human hair being the preferred method……
So, those are some good reasons why we mill our own grains. I am all for progress, but I think people should be aware of what is in commercial flour and virtually all baked goods. Then they can choose.
At True Grain Bread, we don’t think this should be in our food, so we either mill our own grain or buy organic unbleached untreated white flour.
How do you protect yourself if you don’t want to eat this stuff?
- Look for flour labelled as “unbleached”. That takes care of the chlorines and bleaching agents.
- Typically organic flour has less added to it than conventional flour, (but not necessarily)
- Ask questions of the manufacturer for a list of exactly what is in it.
- Seek out a small scale producer or a retailer who sells sifted wheat instead of flour or flour that declares untreated and unbleached