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Re: [pct-l] Trail food

>From: Brick Robbins <brick@fastpack.com>

>At 08:35 PM 3/15/00 , Brett Tucker wrote:
> >The answer, of course, is that the durum semolina has been "enriched" or 
>fortified with synthetic vitamins, which is the companies' way of 
>attempting to put back what they took out during processing. The reason for 
>this is economics, of course,

>Brick then replied:
>The main reason in NOT economics, it is what the public WANTS to buy. Most 
>folks PREFER white bread. It may not be as good for them, but enriching it 
>helps make up for the lack.

Blisterfree then went off topic and overboard:
"What the public wants to buy" is as fickle as the public itself. People 
generally buy whatever leaps out at them on the shelves (NEW! IMPROVED!), or 
what crowds the halftime commercial slot during televised football games. 
Getting the public's attention takes big bucks, and getting those bucks 
means cutting overhead in any way possible. Producing white pasta, and 
enriching it, is far more cost-effective for the food industry, compared to 
delivering whole products, because de-germed and enriched products have far 
longer shelf lives and because they can be shipped and stored all across the 
globe with little fear of spoilage. Sort of like furniture. The bottom line 
- the public is uneducated about the food they eat, and whether that is 
right or wrong, the food industry is taking advantage of the fact.

>As far as the vitamins on the label go: A, B, C, whatever, there are no 
>differences between the natural and the synthetic vitamins, except for the 
>certainly that the synthetic vitamins are really there, where the natural 
>occurring ones depend largely on the soil quality, the ripeness of the 
>grain when it was picked, and its age.

The vitamin companies want us to believe that synthetic vitamins are 
identical to naturally occuring ones. But when was the last time that 
anything man-made replicated nature perfectly? Or even came close. And who 
says most of these synthetic vitamins are absorbable? I like what Dr. 
Wallach says about the average vitamins pill. It gives you "expensive 
urine." :)  He's also a big advocate of plant-derived colloidal minerals, 
and I tend to agree with him that some of the nutrients in a plant are 
dependent on soil quality. But in the end, all plants - regardless of what 
they're growing in - are living, vital things. When we consume these natural 
foods, we're taking in their life forces, so to speak, along with a host of 
enzymes and other essential nutrients poorly understood by science. So, yes, 
I take vitamin and mineral supplements like the next guy, but I don't see 
them as a replacement for a healthy diet. And I don't think adding synthetic 
vitamins directly to the foods we consume makes those foods any healthier.

>The main differences between whole and white, are the fiber content (by the 
>way, sawdust is a good source of fiber) and other phyto-nutrients and 
>vitamin isomers that have not bee well studied. I personally have little 
>doubt that whole foods are healthier in the long run, but more because of 
>what the process foods lack than from anything basically bad about them 
>(with the exception of trans-fatty acids which are found in almost all 
>packaged baked goods: look for hydrogenated oils).

The main difference between whole and white flour is that the whole flour 
contains every part of the grain, save for the inedible hull. Whole flour 
contains the bran and germ, where almost all of the nutrition lies. White 
flour contains only the endosperm, which contains very little nutrition. So, 
yes, the processed foods lack much that nature was perfectly ready to 
provide. They also contain plenty of ingredients that nature knows nothing 
about. Twinkies! Come on - this is NOT food! You can put a Twinkie in a 
window sill, in direct sunlight, for months or years on end, and it will not 
go bad, and no animal large or small will try eating it. Brightly colored 
non-food. :)  And there's a lot more "wrong" with food that just trans-fatty 
acids. Some foods have a negative nutritional value, meaning that consuming 
them actually depletes one's nutrient stores. Quaker "Puffed Wheat" - the 
puffing process places the wheat flour under extreme pressure (4000 lbs/sq 
in), completely changing its molecular structure. Studies with rats have 
shown that a diet of this Quaker product (along with water) will kill a rat 
far sooner than had the critter received a starvation diet of strictly 
water. Studies with backpackers given water and freeze dried... :)

>In the big scheme of things, whole vs white bread doesn't make much of a 
>difference in the health of someone eating the Standard American Diet 

What's really sad is how hard it is to avoid the standard American diet, 
given the stifling of information and the wide availability of unhealthy 
products posing as fortified wonder-foods. The person who sincerely wants to 
eat well has to do far more than read labels. There are pitfalls at every 
turn in the supermarket, and some very well intentioned people fall into 
them all the time. Take the bread issue again...

>By definition, "Bread" contains more than wheat. 100% Whole Wheat refers to 
>the flour used to make the bread. Bread has more than just flour in it. If 
>you think otherwise, then you have never made it, and that in itself is a 

When you see "100% whole wheat" on the label, you get the impression that 
the flour content is 100% whole wheat. You know that bread contains other 
ingredients besides wheat, naturally. But you feel that by purchasing a 
product labeled as such, you're buying something different - healthier - 
than the foods without this label. But the consumer is basically buying 
white bread, same as always. Commercial breads that actually contained 100% 
whole wheat would spoil quickly, and yes, would lack the texture preferred 
by the public. So the preferences of the masses, along with the economics of 
big industry, mean we all get duped every time we walk down the bread aisle. 
I don't even eat bread anymore, but I understand that baking your own 100% 
or nearly-whole wheat bread yields a very different loaf than those found in 
the stores.

> >  The ingredient, "spices," can contain any number of chemicals, 
>including MSG, and the company does not have to indicate such even if the 
>MSG content were as high as 40%...
>MSG is a spice. So is Sodium Chloride, better known as "salt."

MSG is a synthetic chemical designed to fool the human brain into perceiving 
food as tasting good. Table salt is a refined, depleted, and harmful version 
of naturally occuring salts, such as sea salt. When you buy the rare health 
food that goes beyond FDA requirements, you often find disclaimers whenever 
an ingredient's disposition could be questionable, ie spices (NO MSG) and 
SEA salt. Or DISTILLER PRESSED safflower oil.

>Actually the main problems with a trail diet is the sheer lack of adequate 
>calories. Nothing more and nothing less. We don't like to carry all the 
>food we really need, because it weighs too much.This practice is NOT good 
>for sustaining energy in long term activity. You CANT make it up in town.

I agree that most hikers don't like to carry the weight of food on their 
back, and that this can lead to trouble in terms of lost energy and 
nutrition. But I don't think looking at calories alone is the answer. Again, 
not all calories are created equally. Calories are simply a measure of heat 
output. If it burns, then it has calories. But that doesn't mean we can eat 
it and expect it to provide energy. Nutritious foods first, calories second. 
After all, the hiker can't predict calorie needs very well. We have to take 
a wait and see approach on the trail. But we can predict nutrition in 
advance, by testing various foods for the energy and sense of well being 
they provide.

>For anyone who has read the Jardine books, it should be apparent that I am 
>poking fun at Blisterfree (just a little bit) because his statements are 
>right out of those books and delivered with much the same verve that Ray 
>himself uses when preaching on this subject.

What can I say? I'm the editor, and I'm a company man. :)

Brick, sounds like you managed to obtain a copy of Beyond Backpacking from 
the library. I applaud your extra-curricular research. :)

Happy trails to all,
- Blisterfree

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