Saturday, September 13, 2008

Day 145 of our Green Year: Choosing Brown Bread over White Bread

A few days ago, we decided to choose only to have brown rice instead of white rice, which we found to be better for ourselves and the environment. Today, we have decided to do the same with bread, choosing to only buy cornmeal or wholewheat flour, instead of white flour for when we make bread from home, as we committed to doing on Day 49.

White bread is made from wheat flour that has had both the bran and germ removed from it. Unfortunately, this is where much of the nutritional value of the bread is located. As a result, white bread is lower in zinc, fiber, thiamin, niacin, and 'good' fats and oils, when compared with brown bread. To make up for it, white bread is injected with vitamins and minerals during the bread making process. Essentially, the same nutrients that are removed from white bread, are then re-added later.

However, other problems do exist with white bread. When the bran and germ is removed from white bread, the flour used is then bleached with potassium bromate, benzoyl peroxide and chlorine dioxide gas. The horrible thing is that potassium bromate is actually an oxidizing agent that can be fatal when it is swallowed and harmful if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Benzoyl peroxide is another irritant that can kill animals, birds, fish and plants. In addition, chlorine dioxide is used as a pesticide and it ranks as one of the compounds most hazardous to the environment, even though it breaks down quickly.

To complete this long process of bleaching and re-adding of nutrients, additional energy and processes are used, most of which are harmful to the environment. As a result, brown bread is simply better for you and the environment.
That being said, you should not just buy brown bread without reading the ingredients. if the first ingredient of the brown bread is whole wheat or wholemeal flour, instead of enriched wheat flour, then you have natural brown bread.

In other notes, I read an article today on (a must visit site for anyone concerned about the environment) that stated there is twice as much CO2 stored in permafrost as was originally thought. the study that was published in Nature Geoscience found that Arctic permafrost holds 60 percent more organic carbon than was originally theorized. In all, there is an estimated 1,500 BILLION tons of CO2 and methane there, which is twice the amount of what is currently in our atmosphere. As the permafrost melts, that CO2 and methane gets released into the atmosphere where it does considerable damage. That amount of CO2 could warm the Earth much more than was previously theorized, and by the end of the century, there could be major melting of permafrost in Canada, Russia, Alaska, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Greenland.