Dr. Basil Kransdorff of e’Pap Technology looks at how most processed maize is made for profit, NOT for nutritional value, and how our government is NOT tackling the root cause of our food crisis.
Nature creates food in a way that supports our bodies. The right food in the right form gives us energy to work hard, think smart and be empowered. Why are our commercial farmers and governments processing the life out of our food?
Until recently, food manufacturers were not required to have an interest or knowledge about nutrition. Yes, there are laws in place for gross violations of food safety. However, if one has a clean enough factory and complies with municipal and national regulations, one can produce anything edible and sell it even if it is sterile of nutrients. Most manufacturers have had their sights set almost exclusively on creating profit for shareholders. Key naturally occurring nutrients like the important cereal fat are viewed as an unnecessary ‘irritation’ that must be removed.
Many of the vital nutritional ingredients are REMOVED from commercially processed maize:
To serve the short term financial needs of their shareholders, industrial processes have been developed that remove the ‘irritating’ cereal fat which goes rancid on a retail shelf within 3 months. They have developed approaches to successfully market packaged processed foods that support only the agenda of maximising shareholder profit. The business model embraces the ‘bliss factor’ in food formulation. This includes the removal of important cereal fat and prebiotic fibre; adding large quantities of refined sugar, salt and unhealthy processed vegetable fats to enhance taste profiles. Powerful marketing tools are used to promote ‘finer and whiter’ taste profiles which efficiently fill empty bellies. Unfortunately, “bliss factor” foods seldom provide more than empty calories and do little to help create nutrient replete communities. The consequence is a continent-wide health crisis created by sterile nutrient depleted wheat and maize grains devoid of important nutrients essential for health and well-being.
Our government does NOT tackle the root cause of the issue:
Governance structure does not ‘connect the dots’ as the health crisis unfolds. They continue to try and address the consequences rather than fixing the cause. We all lament health budgets and the lack of sustainable development that creates jobs. Nobody questions why food and agricultural processes are allowed to remove an important nutritional part of the population’s staple food that is partly responsible for creating the nutrition crisis.
The root cause of malnutrition and hidden hunger:
Many current food process have serious health consequences. In removing the cereal fat from the grain, important pre-biotic fibre and many natural micro nutrients and many micro elements are also lost to the food chain. Where most of the population is dependent on maize and wheat for food security, the outcome is dire. The resultant malnutrition and hidden hunger has consequence for health, poverty and sustainable development.
A number of the micro elements which are removed in the food refining process are present in very low levels. Modern science to this day does not understand what role many of these elements play in human metabolism.
Processed maize lacks the iron and zinc we naturally need in our diet:
To highlight the issue – unrefined maize could have an iron content in a food state form of up to 3 mg per 100 grams. After refining – there is little or no iron left. An average South African will consume up to 350 grams of maize and bread a day. If the naturally present iron and zinc were not removed – there could be little or no iron or zinc deficiency in South Africa.
Governments complicate the problem and add to the food crisis:
Governments attempt to reverse the problem by legislating for fortification using refined isolate chemicals back to the food chain. This raises another serious problem where maize and wheat is the basis of food security. Maize contains phytate inhibitors which complex out the inorganic zinc, calcium and iron into an insoluble complex that does not allow biological absorption.
The refining of maize also removes inherent vitamin A. Government legislation puts vitamin A back into Industrial food processes that utilise maize and wheat. Because vitamin A is a sensitive nutrient to both heat, light and of course oxygen, little is left available for biological absorption after a 45-minute high temperature cooking process. This has necessitated the DOH to supplement further vitamin A interventions to the most vulnerable and especially for pregnant and lactating mothers and young children.
The lack of nutrition in commercially processed maize, is the root cause of many deficiencies and diseases:
The net consequence of utilising maize as the preferred cereal grain for food security has had huge negative health consequences for Africa. Over the past 100 years’ populations have moved away from their traditional grains of sorghum and millet to a maize based food chain. The consequence is that the continent’s populations have now become iron deficient and anaemic. Zinc, calcium and vitamin A deficiency plus other micro nutrient deficiencies are now common across whole populations. All have links to both obesity and diabetes and many other health issues.
Hidden hunger is spreading as GDP drops:
The depletion of micronutrient in the food chain created by phytates inhibitors in maize, food processing and modern commercial farming that utilise deep ploughing and acidic fertilizers is referred to as ‘hidden hunger’. It is well documented by UN agencies that ‘hidden hunger’ has a negative impact on the GDP by between 2% and as much as 7%. Modern agriculture and food processing take no responsibility for problems created or the health consequences created.
Millet – a better solution:
Millet can play an important role especially in the context of global warming because it is a drought resistant cereal crop. In a recent visit to China I had the opportunity to investigate special hybrid millets (7 tons per hectare) that have been developed to address food security for low rainfall areas. Using millet rather than maize as a food security crop has an added nutritional benefit. It does not contain phytate inhibitors that block biological absorption of iron, calcium and zinc which create serious health issues.
e’Pap and millet together to create nutrient replete communities:
Using the e’Pap approach (www.epap.co.za) to fortification to enhance the nutrient content of millet, we will address another key challenge of helping to create nutrition security. Our approach will help make rural communities nutrient replete and physiologically functional. In such a condition, they will better find their own solutions to their health and poverty challenges.
A potential economic model would be to use part of this fortified millet production created by rural farmers that could be sold to urban city dwellers to help them to become nutrient replete – thereby reversing the cycle set up by the colonial beginnings that utilises modern agriculture to create food security.
Such an approach would create an income stream necessary to keep rural farmers on the land. It would help alleviate food security with an added nutrition component that will also solve a serious health issue in both rural and urban city slums.
Using millet as the basis of food security and fortifying it with e’Pap is an approach that results in a nutrient replete condition would be the basis of a new economic paradigm which is better defined as a ‘Nutrition Economy’.
At e’Pap Technology we are ‘walking the talk’ and tackling the issues that need answers, developing affordable solutions that work.