No pain, no grain.

January 19th, 2012 | Posted by greg in Daily life...

The New Year barely started and we see dozens of magazines and websites proclaiming to hold the key to what food trends will be for the 12 months to come. And whilst the word organic is slowly fading away with the too many over-worked marketing scams and other scandals around the world, we see the word homegrown popping up just about everywhere.

Sustainable and homegrown, eventually farm-to-table are the new words on the street; yet, it is most of the time referred to as for meat, fish, seafood, fruits or vegetables. But should we worry about everything else in between?

I am a fully grown adult (and a bit overweight for that matter) and I take full responsibility when it comes to the food I eat. If I am about to eat an apple which is covered with pesticide and that has been genetically modified to stay green, it means I made the decision to buy it and that I also decided to eat it, despite all my beliefs. But what makes me worry the most is what goes into my son’s stomach. Every time he takes a bite of food or a sip of juice, I can’t stop thinking about all the chemicals present in almost every other processed food on the market, and even if we try to plan groceries with the healthiest products on the market, the occasional treat got to be loaded with butylated hydroxyanisole & Co.

It reminds me of Hans Rosling washing machine speech where he explains that even the most hardcore green person in any developed country that is, living the greenest life possible still uses a washing machine to clean his or her cloth. Well, with food additives it’s pretty much the same. No matter how hardcore organic food eater you are, it’s everywhere and very hard to avoid if you buy anything from the supermarket. Organic vegetables or marketing scam? Do we really know the truth?

There have been studies linking the amount of preservatives and other chemicals in food with the overall increase of allergies, cancers and other illnesses. There are 10 times more food additives used in food compared to 40 years ago! And even if someone tells you that ascorbic acid is ok because it’s vitamin C really, it’s not. Like everything else, there is a limit that our bodies can take. That very reason puts the gluten free and other special diet on most top 10 food trend for 2012. No wonder.

The one food I think is often left aside and not promoted enough is whole grain food. You might think I say that because I’m a baker, maybe, but not entirely. It’s definitely harder to get homegrown whole grain products in Hong Kong you’ll say. Yes, but why not? When I landed 13 years ago, quality local homegrown figs were just a dream for any chefs. Today, we use them in our operation and that’s just one out of many available goods.

Whole grain products, whether bread, pasta, biscuits or muffins are a very important source of proteins, minerals and vitamins. But more than that, it’s a great source of energy, especially for kids. When we eat plain white bread, the digesting process is fast as the level of fibers is very low. That’s when the kids fall asleep in class at 10:30 a.m. The opposite happens with whole grain food, where the grain envelop and other parts makes the digestion process much slower and gives a much better energy output, spread over a longer period. That’s when the kids are back home full of power and start painting funny things on the walls!

We are used to eat everything based on white wheat flour. And when we try the same product based on whole wheat or other whole grain, we find it weird. It’s not bad, it’s just that we are not used to it. What I think would make a lot of sense would be to include whole grain products in kid’s diet from the earliest age possible, so that it becomes a sort of built-in habit to consume these products. Or perhaps we should start with classes for the parents?

Whole grain foods and healthier eating habits are an important part of the kid’s diet. Either for your kids, or as a Chef, for your customer’s kids, perhaps adding one or two whole grain dishes on the menu might be a good start for the year of the Dragon!

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