If you paid attention in the Grade 7 history class, you might remember something about the Industrial Revolution.
This period around 1750-1850 brought about large water, wind and steam-powered flour mills. They replaced the small animal-powered stone mills matching the daily flour needs of the local community.
For millennia flour millers knew that crushing grains caused the grains to start oxidizing or fermenting thus only milling enough to be used within weeks.
For storage and distribution, large scale food processing requires shelf-life.
Large millers were the first large-scale food processors. Yes, they were businesses. They were never also expected to care about the nutritional contents or values of their sold products. They thus just removed the culprits (the germs and husks) which limit the shelf-life by introducing sifting and air blowing processes.
Whiter and finer flours soon became ‘better’ and more desired by consumers. Especially when sugar additions in new recipes took shape.
Who can ever forget Marie Antoinette’s alleged comment during the French Revolution – ‘Let them have cake’?