The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Serving up Wood

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ehanner's picture
ehanner

Serving up Wood

I thought TFL'ers might be interested in reading this post by Miriam Reimer concerning the wood pulp that is served up every day by the food producer factories in America and the World. The list of 15 food companies that serve you "Wood" surprised me. I especially liked the quote about how pleased one industry spokesman was at being able to add 15% cellulose to a loaf of bread. Wood pulp is not digestible and has no nutritional value to humans. The list of products containing this stretcher is shocking.

Eric

Kollin's picture
Kollin

That is really disgusting :(

siuflower's picture
siuflower

when I lived in Canada and once I found a wood chip in my bread. I asked the cook why and he told me it added fiber in our diet.

 

siuflower

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Interesting piece. Explains the high count of wooden but regular people around..., 

Wild-Yeast

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I'm not sure it is disgusting. We take fiber supplements to help clean the digestive system and salads for the  same purpose. Cellulose is just more of the same. It seems a little creepy to know that it is added to syrup and ice cream.

Eric

Kollin's picture
Kollin

Whole wheat flowers, vegetables, fruits have enough fibers + all the vitamins, minerals and micro-elements  that comes with them (and human body can process).Does wood provide you with all that. I don't think so. ;)

 

Beavers will never forgive us :D

 

Chuck's picture
Chuck

I'm a little uncomfortable with the "obvious assumption" that  no-nutritive-value ==> bad-for-you. As far as I know my Metamucil doesn't have any nutritive value either. (And a "fiber" ingredient is important to many gluten-free flour replacements.) I'd prefer to eat real foods that integrated fiber, but getting fiber by itself instead doesn't seem like the worst thing to me...

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I'm in agreement Chuck. Although I'm uncomfortable with the idea that the FDA has no limit on how much you can consume in a product. Really? The food scientists are too clever to have that kind of freedom.

Eric

Kollin's picture
Kollin

It's just unnecessary tampering with the food with one reason: Profit

BTW pulping can involve heavy chemistry (not very healthy at all) and i'm sure that the big international food companies are buying  as cheap pulp as possible (remember the profit ). ;)

It's known that less processed food is better for your health, that's why we are baking our own bread here, right ?  :D

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Yep Kollin, that's why I posted the link. We should all be interested in serving up the best real food possible.

Eric

wassisname's picture
wassisname

I think a little wood pulp-derived cellulose is less alarming than a lot of the other ingredients found in that list of products.  Maybe that's not saying much.  Yikes!  Makes me realize how spoiled (and lucky) I am to have a fresh loaf of bread and a garden full of veggies.  Note to self: don’t ever take that for granted!

Marcus

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

Marcus.  My wife bought some hamburger buns for a cookout and we didn't use them.  They sat for about a month in a corner and looked as good as the day she bought them.  If the mold and bacteria avoid 'em, perhaps we should too.

FF

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

What's the difference between wood fiber and plant stalks?  or plant hulls? 

Kollin's picture
Kollin

The difference is in cellulose content. From wikipedia: 

Cellulose is the structural component of the primary cell wall of green plants, many forms of algae and the oomycetes. Some species of bacteria secrete it to form biofilms. Cellulose is the most common organic compound on Earth. About 33% of all plant matter is cellulose (the cellulose content of cotton is 90% and that of wood is 40–50%).[4][5]

For industrial use, cellulose is mainly obtained from wood pulp and cotton. It is mainly used to producepaperboard and paper; to a smaller extent it is converted into a wide variety of derivative products such as cellophane and rayon. Converting cellulose from energy crops into biofuels such as cellulosic ethanolis under investigation as an alternative fuel source.

Some animals, particularly ruminants and termites, can digest cellulose with the help of symbiotic micro-organisms that live in their guts. Humans can digest cellulose to some extent,[6][7] however it is often referred to as "dietary fiber" or "roughage" (e.g. outer shell of maize) and acts as a hydrophilic bulking agent for feces.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellulose

Hmmm cotton... may be next time, when i'm mixing my dough I'll drop my  t-shirt into the bowl :D

 

More interesting reading : 

http://www.chem.cmu.edu/groups/collins/res/dyes.html

Wood pulp consists of two polymers, primarily cellulose, the material used for making white paper, and 2–6% colored lignin. Bleaching seeks to remove the lignin from the cellulose. Worldwide, the P&P industry is currently using chlorine dioxide as its principal bleaching agent. Chlorine dioxide oxidatively breaks lignin away from the solid cellulose in two forms, little fragments and big fragments. The fast majority of lignin solubilized by bleaching is in the form of little fragments. These are than digested by bacteria and other organisms in artificial oxidation lakes before the effluent is ejected to a natural water body such as a river, lake or ocean. However, the big lignin fragments where the color resides are too large to be digested by the microorganisms. The color is recalcitrant and ends up staining natural waterways and changing the flux of light absorbed by aquatic ecosystems.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

not so much that wood cellulose is being used as an ingredient as that there is no ceiling for the allowable quantity added to foods.  That opens the door for all sorts of abuses by manufacturers.  It is exactly the kind of thing that the FDA was created to prevent.  Similar non-food additions to foods by unscrupulous producers led to the Reinheitsgebot in Germany to regulate the purity of beer and French laws that decree what is allowable in a baguette.

Cellulose, as a substance, is inescapable in foods containing fruits or vegetables.  Although non-nutritive, cellulose is something that our bodies are equipped to deal with and is actually good for our health.  In appropriate quantities.  From appropriate sources.  Without having been heavily processed, or altered from its original state. 

I read the article while munching on a sandwich made with whole-wheat bread which contains a fair quantity of cellulose (wheat-sourced, not tree-sourced).  Since I made it, I know what is in it.  If something is presented as "food", then it should be real food, not ground-up tree.  If  someone wants to sell strawberry-flavored ground-up tree, more power to them.  Just be honest and label it as such instead of calling it strawberry yogurt. 

Paul

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Just a little truth in advertising please.

Eric

Occabeka's picture
Occabeka

Maybe the FDA would like us all to grow over-sized appendices like ruminants so we can digest cellulose.

Then we won't have this discussion. ;-)

 

Occa

Mebake's picture
Mebake

One more reason why i bake bread at home.

 

Thanks, Eric