The bread (pancakes, viking bread, biscuits etc.) we bake with the flour we grind ourselves is surely superior in taste and texture to anything made from store-bought flour. But the more important reason why we grind our own flour lies elsewhere.
Quoting from “Living the Good Life” by Helen and Scott Nearing, from the chapter “Eating for Health“; the studies and government statements the Nearings are referencing are from the late 1940s and early 1950s, when food sold at the grocery stores was still a lot healthier than it is these days:
“The milling of grain is a case in point. For a long time, humans stored their grains hole, as they came from the threshing floor. The grain, if dry, kept indefinitely, and because of the hard shell which covered each kernel, lost little of its nutritive value. Wholemeal flour, however, will not keep. Oxidation alters its chemical character. The oil in the kernel becomes rancid or evaporates. In a comparatively short time wholegrain flour becomes sour and mouldy. Therefore, under ideal conditions, when bread is to be baked, the whole grain should be ground.”
You can do that if you grind your wheat yourself, you know. It just takes a little bit of planning ahead.
When big business corporations moved into the milling industry they took steps to ensure the profitableness of their investments. Their first step was to find ways to cut costs, (…) ‘to make a cheaper product resemble a better one’.
Two, they undertook to ‘refine’ the flour, ‘to impart properties of softness and sales appeal’, to reduce it to smaller particles so that it could be swallowed with less chewing and would make lighter breads and pastries. The germ and outer grain covering from the kernels were removed; with them went the oil, the protein and the minerals.
Three, they whitened flour, on the assumption that what is whiter is cleaner and otherwise superior. This had the added advantage of removing every vestige of livingness from the flour which became inert and could no longer spoil. Flour was bleached by using one of the caustic chemicals such as chlorine, which sterilizes and reduces to a dead white color.
Four, modern milling involved processing at high speed metal machines which heated the flour and deprived it of any possible remaining nutritional elements.
Five, flours are now ‘enriched’ by putting back substitutes, ‘synthetic chemicals’, for the essential elements removed in the course of processing. To quote again (…), ‘Many of the flours and breads contain phosphorous, flourine, silicone, alum, nicotinic acid, potassium bromate, and a score of other poisonous drugs… Bakery products, like so many of the processed foods, apparently offer those who would resort to chemicals and substitutes, a great opportunity for profit at the expense not only of the consumer financially but of the actual health of the customer.’
Milling may sound like a horrible example of food processing. It is only one among many.”
Avoid poisoning yourself more than absolutely necessary.