It's taught me a lot but I, predictably, love the section on Air; about bread and baking. I love a good white loaf, and soft sweet doughs made with white flour but there really is no denying that it's just not good for us and is now a bit of a guilty pleasure (much to the disgruntlement of my children).
Two things have cemented this in my mind recently; a friend of mine looking to lose a bit of weight went to see a nutritionist and was told to treat white flour in the same way as sugar i.e. to be avoided or at least considered an occasional treat rather than every-day fodder.
But what really hit home was the link cited by Pollan in his book, that "not long after roller mills became widespread in the 1880s, alarming rates of nutritional deficiency and chronic disease began cropping up in populations that relied on the new white flour. Around the turn of the century, a group of French and British doctors and medical experts began searching for the causes of what they dubbed 'the Western diseases' (heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and several disorders of the digestive tract, including cancer)... [they] had observed that, soon after white flour and sugar arrived in places where previously what one of them (Robert McCarrison) called 'the unsophisticated foods of Nature' had been the norm, the Western diseases would predictably appear."
Working with wholemeal flour is not without its problems. It doesn't rise to the fluffy heights of white flour, and this is for a number of reasons, one of which is that the sharp shards of bran left in the flour can pierce the tiny balloon-like structures of gluten. These need to stay intact so as not to let the out carbon dioxide, expelled by the yeast as it feeds, and the thing that gives bread its airiness.
I hope Michael Pollan won't mind me sharing a technique from his book to counteract this - one that I've yet to try but which I was so excited to read that I needed to share it. Sieve out the bran and mix/knead the dough as normal and then, when you come to put it in the oven, roll the dough in the bran, thereby incorporating the 'whole' grain, but not necessarily in the dough. Genius!