Food for a nation – what’s in my “Atta”

I have lots of memories of taking wheat grains to the “atta mill” – called Chakka. It used to be a tough job – I was small (only 10 maybe) and me and my brother would manage a bag of grains on a pedal bike and take it to the mill. We would wait for the wheat to be processed (into fine flour). The smell/aromaof the place. A belt used to run many mills; and a single person would manage the mills. To give you a view of what it would look like; here is an image I borrowed from the web. 


So, now you can imagine my surprise – when the first time; I saw a packet of atta you can just buy at a grocery store. These are simple things in life; which you look and say – oh – that makes sense. 

Now, 20 years later; I was working late night looking for small particles I could use for flow visualization in foldscope – specially something everyone has access to and I explored if flour would do the trick. This is my first look at “starch granules” in flour. They are beautiful. 

This is what the world feeds on.. Tiny little granules of starch. 

I find it ironic that although I had enjoyed a million items made out of flour; j had never before seen starch granules. It’s even more ironic; that today morning I decided to come and sit in a bakery and write this post.. 

Find out what’s in your own food – keep exploring.. 



Ps: wait till I add polarizers to my foldscope 🙂 

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Saad Bhamla says:

    @manu – I’m really amazed by the picture of those starch granules. I’ve seen SEM images of ‘atta’ and you can see the beautiful starch granules in a gluten matrix.


  2. laksiyer says:

    @Manu. Please put the polarizers on quickly. One thing I am waiting for in my atta, much to everyone’s consternation at home, is the flour beetle. The beetle is perfect for foldscoping the entire life cycle…

  3. Manu Prakash says:

    @Laks: what a fantastic idea about the beetle. Your comment had be run down a memory lane; where at our grandfathers home – we used to look for “sursiri” in the grains. Now; I don’t know what insect that it – but it used to damage all the crops stored; massive tons of them. We would out all kind of toxic things in the wheat grain; which I can not imagine can be good for us to consume.

    I will look for a polarizer while you look for some beetles 🙂


  4. laksiyer says:

    I remember that too @Manu and screening them out with the winnowing basket, when time seemed to be an infinite expanse. I think they are called the Rice/Wheat weevils (Sitophilus).

  5. Paul Joseph says:

    @manu, What’s the advantage in using polarisers on your foldscope ?
    I mean, I know what polarisers do- they restrict the vibrations of light to a particular orientation, right? – but I can’t think of a reason why you would used polarised light as opposed to regular light.


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