On our first trip, we learned the schools in the area only had enough funds to feed the children every other day. A school was often the only place where kids were fed. There’s a saying in Haiti, “hungry bellies, have no ears.” When a child is hungry, they are unable to learn. We heard this and decided we wanted to help on a larger scale.
I immediately thought about my mother. I was brought up in a house where my mom would buy wheat in buckets; she would grind it and bake bread every day. I began to think about how I could help feed these kids by baking bread.
Wheat, ground fresh contains essential vitamins and nutrients that the human body needs.
The Nutritional Value of Wheat
When we mill the whole wheat berry, we know we are getting the full nutritional value of the complete grain, including the bran (the outer layer) which contains insoluble fiber, magnesium, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, iron, and zinc; and the germ (or seed) which is an excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, B3, E, magnesium, iron, zinc, phosphorous, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The endosperm (middle layer) contains mostly protein and carbohydrates along with small amounts of B vitamins, iron, and soluble fiber.
And here is why I think this information is relevant: With the advent of industrial milling in the late 1800s, we began filtering out the bran and germ and used only the remaining endosperm, resulting in what we know as all-purpose white flour. Stripped down it is lifeless and has a shelf life of several months. It has lost the insoluble fiber and minerals, a combination essential for proper digestion and nourishment.
My mother used to say: "Within one day of grinding or milling 40% percent of the nutrients have oxidized" (and being kids we would make fun of her: “Sure mom, you can see the nutrients fly away?”) Well, she was right. Upon further study, research has found that within 72 hours of grinding or milling, 90% percent of the nutrients "fly away." What is left are “empty calories,” mostly starch.
I have often wondered if the consumption of refined flour is one reason gluten sensitivity has become such an epidemic in the United States.
The benefits of whole grains most documented in repeated studies (according to The Whole Grains Council) include 20 - 30% reductions in risk of strokes, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
So, why not just buy Whole Grain Flour?
You might think: “I am buying whole grain (maybe even organic) flour, so I should be good.” Whole grain flour is frequently produced by first separating and then recombining ground bran with endosperm flour. The germ which contains the antioxidants, vitamin E, B vitamins and polyunsaturated fatty acids is often left out because the powder would spoil too quickly.
It took me a while to understand that “whole grain” on food labels doesn’t necessarily mean that the product is all or mostly whole grain; it may be mostly white flour. It depends on the product. If the first ingredient listed is “whole grain” it is likely that the product is predominantly whole grain. If “whole grain” is listed as the second ingredient, the bread may contain as little as 1% to 49% whole. When I make my whole grains, I don’t have read any labels. I get what I put into my mill, that simple.
That is not necessarily true for flour you buy at the store. Not only have we been taking essential parts of the grain out, but to make milling more effective, we started adding things.
Almost all white flour in the United States goes through a bleaching process with toxic chlorine called azodicarbonamide. Another common additive is fungal amylase (which slows down the growth of mold) and potassium bromate (aka brominated flour). Potassium bromate has been associated with cancer, kidney, nervous system disorders and is banned in many countries (but not the U.S).
I am no expert on this topic, but I do trust the saying “If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.” If you mill your grain at home, not only will you get the health benefits but whole grains over flour is cheaper.
A little bit about grain mills: Our grain mills all use stone as the grinding mechanism. I like it over steel as the germ is not subject to excessive temperatures that through metal, therefore remaining relatively intact.
We only mill a small amount of grain at once, the fat from the germ is well balanced which also minimizes spoilage. Stone -ground flour is usually coarser; therefore exposure to oxygen is less, and the nutrients remain in the flour for longer.
Genesis 41: 53-57 tells the story of Joseph storing the grain for seven years. Genesis 42:2 shows us why he was so smart: People came from all over to buy the grain. They sold livestock to purchase the grain. Verse 1-2: When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons,“Why do you keep looking at each other? He continued, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and by some for us, so that we may live and not die.
It's important to realize that the nutrition is in the grain.
The grain comes to life when it is milled.
We are applying God’s principles of providing wheat berries that are ground into flour and then produced into bread for the children in Haiti.
Grinding the wheat berries or the local corn to make whole grain flour is the essential key to 100% live nutrition for the children in Haiti. We provide the bread oven, the wheat berries or local corn and the baking supplies necessary to bake the bread. We are also training and employing local bakers to facilitate the baking and distribution of the freshly baked bread. This makes us different than most organizations. Most are putting a band-aid on the problem. We are bringing a solution to feeding children nutrition, but also providing a sustainable model that is empowering the Haitian people.
- James Cammilleri