Cold cereal with milk and some orange juice on the side. We think this breakfast is nourishing, right?

Well, let’s take a look at the individual ingredients. Sally Fallon Morell provides such analysis in “Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry.”

All packaged cereal grains are made into a slurry, are put into a machine called an extruder, and are “forced out of a tiny hole at high temperature and pressure, which shapes them into little o’s and flakes, or shreds them or puffs them.” The shapes are then sprayed with oil and sugar to seal the grains from “the ravages of milk” and to give them crunchiness. This process destroys the fatty acids, the synthetic vitamins added at the end, and the “crucial nutrient” amino acid lysine.

This extrusion process “turns the proteins in grains into neurotoxins.” Biochemist Paul Stitt describes the now-famous, but still unpublished, 1942 rat study which fed four groups of rats differing diets. The rats fed vitamins, water, and all the puffed wheat they wanted died within two weeks, even before the rats who received no food. Rats fed plain whole wheat, water, and synthetic vitamins and minerals lived for one year. Somehow, writes Morell, the extrusion process produces chemical changes in the grains that make them toxic.

In 1960, researchers at the University of Michigan divided rats into three groups. One group received cornflakes and water, one the cardboard box the cornflakes came in and water, and the control group received rat chow and water. The rats receiving the cornflakes died before the rats eating the cardboard boxes. And, before dying, the rats eating cornflakes “developed aberrant behavior, threw fits, bit each other and finally went into convulsions. Autopsy revealed dysfunction of the pancreas, liver and kidneys and degeneration of the nerves of the spine, all signs of insulin shock. This experiment, designed as a joke and still unpublished, undoubtedly shocked its designers.

The extrusion process alters the structure of grain proteins, so cereals in health food stores made of whole grains rather than refined grains may be more dangerous because they have a higher protein content. It’s likely that these altered protein bodies “can interact with each other and other components of the system, forming new compounds that are completely foreign to the human body.” As these proteins become toxic, they can “adversely affect the nervous system, as indicated by the cornflake experiment.”

Additionally, Morell notes that many of these cereals are “at least 50 percent sugar.” Given that grains are carbohydrates that break down into sugars in the body, there is a double sugar load involved given added sweeteners. Further, Lierre Keith, in “The Vegetarian Myth,” notes that grains contain powerful opioids that are addictive for humans. No wonder we like them so much!

Morell notes that most industrial milk comes largely from cows fed foods cows do not eat, to include waste products from other industries. These cows produce “huge amounts of watery milk with only half the amount of fat” normal cows should produce. This milk is combined and shipped to factories where it is separated into “fat, protein and various other solids and liquids.” Then, the ingredients are reconstituted according to “specific levels set for whole, low-fat and no-fat milks” — levels which allow fat from even whole milk to be skimmed off for other products, like butter, cheese, and ice cream. Reduced fat milks are boosted with powdered milk concentrate to give them body.

Powdered milk is made by forcing milk “through a tiny hole at high pressure” and then blowing the particles out into the air. This process causes “a lot of nitrates to form” and, worse, it oxidizes the cholesterol in the milk. Oxidized cholesterol is dangerous for humans. It’s used “in animal research to cause atherosclerosis,” or heart disease. (Cholesterol in your body is not the same thing as oxidized cholesterol.)

Once reconstituted and homogenized, milk is pasteurized, or, more likely today, ultrapasteurized, which cooks it until it is (supposedly) sterile. It does not need refrigeration and will last for many weeks.

I have followed with much pleasure the progress of Maine’s own organic Moo Milk. This milk comes from local family farms, is processed in Maine, and is not ultrapasteurized. Moo Milk is a healthy direction for both the farmers and for Maine consumers. Hopefully, in time, Moo Milk will pasture Moo cows except in winter, will not homogenize milk, and will offer a line of raw milk.

Morell shows that commercial orange juice is a toxic soup. Conventional oranges are “sprayed heavily with pesticides called cholinesterase inhibitors [like organophosphates and carbamates], which are very toxic to the nervous system.” Whole oranges are thrown into huge squeezing vats and enzymes and acids are added that help extract as much of the juice as is possible. The dried orange peels, still loaded with organophosphates, are fed to cattle, which the work of Mark Purdey shows causes a “degeneration of the brain and nervous system in the cow.” So, what are these ingredients doing to you?

The juice is then pasteurized, but “researchers have found fungus that is resistant to pressure and heat in processed juices.” And, they have found E. coli strains in the orange juice that was “pressure resistant and had survived pasteurization.” Further, like the extrusion of grains, “the heating process produced intermediate products which, under test conditions, gave rise to mutagenicity [changes genes] and cytotoxicity” [causes cancer].

In addition, eating cold cereal with low-fat milk and drinking a side of orange juice is eating exactly the kind of easily digestible sugar-rich carbohydrates that are being identified as causing obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. And, there is very little fat. Morell reminds us that the demonization of saturated fats and oils has no scientific basis and is “nothing but industry propaganda.” With so much sugar and so little fat, one will be hungry shortly.

If you want to eat a grain for breakfast, “soak grains overnight to get rid of the anti-nutrients that are normally neutralized in the sprouting process. Soaking will neutralize the tannins, enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid and gently break down complex proteins.” Soak grains in “warm water and one tablespoon of something acidic, like whey, yogurt, lemon juice or vinegar.” In the morning, your grains will cook in just a few minutes. And, it’s best to eat them with “butter or cream, coconut and chopped nuts like our grandparents did. The nutrients in the fats are needed in order for you to absorb the nutrients in the grains. Without the fats, especially the animal fats, which are the only sources of true vitamin A complex and vitamin D3, you cannot absorb the minerals in your food.”

For me, grains and fruit are a rare and much appreciated treat. For breakfast, I eat eggs, often scrambled with leftover green vegetables and cheese; fermented meats like salami or prosciutto; bacon; cheeses; homemade yogurt with nuts, seeds, bits of fresh or dried fruit, and dried coconut; and tea with honey and whole heavy raw cream. I do not get hungry again until about 2 p.m.