Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bread - nourishing, delicious and extraordinary? or cheap, tasteless and ordinary?

Bread can be nourishing, delicious, life sustaining and extraordinary. It can also be cheap, tasteless, toxic and ordinary. Which type do you give your kids?

For thousands of years man survived on bread – it has been an integral and pivotal part of our diet for ever and dates back to Neolithic times. But bread and bread making have changed…..

No longer do we dine on just flour, water, salt and sourdough. We have pesticide and herbicide controlled wheat milled into flour which is then bleached and oxidised. We have commercial bakers yeast, bleached and chemalized salt, toxic vegetable oils, food additives, genetically modified soy flour, fish oils, synthetic vitamins and often a whole list of other questionable ingredients. No wonder it tastes so bad!!

I am asked about bread all the time by anxious parents…
• But what about high fibre bread?
• But what if my kids won’t eat brown bread?
• Is multigrain better than wholemeal?
• Is bakery bread better than supermarket bread?
• But aren’t fish oils good for us?
• Isn’t soy good for us?

and so on

So how do we know when bread is good for us? How can we tell the good from the not so good? Here are some questions to ask before we buy..

• Where is the bread made? A cheap supermarket line will almost certainly not offer as good a quality as a bakery which in turn will not offer as good quality as an artisan bakery.
• How many ingredients are listed? A long list of ingredients often signals poor quality breads.
• What flours are used? Organic? Unbleached? Wholegrain? Wheat? Rye? Soy? Spelt? Organic rye for example is far better for us than bleached white. Be wary of some soy flours as they are sometimes from genetically modified soy.
• What type of salt is used? Sea salt is far superior to the refined, bleached cooking salt used by many food manufacturers.
• Is it sour dough? Sourdough culture has been used since ancient times to leaven bread and has greater health benefits and is easier to digest than commercial yeast.
• Is there any oil used and if so, what type? Cheap, toxic vegetable oils are widely used in commercial breads, so beware.
• Have any food additives been used? The mould inhibitor 282 is a prime example of a typical food additive in bread. Amongst other things, this additive has been associated with behavioural problems in children.
• What about synthetic vitamins and fish oils? Yes, kids who are poorly fed may be getting some benefit from these additives, but for the most part, we need to get our vitamins and minerals from the food they originated in. Fish oils from fish, vitamins from fruits and vegetables etc.
• Does it take a long time to toast? This is often a simple test of bread quality. The more refined the bread the higher the concentration of sugars. When bread is exposed to heat during toasting the sugar caramelises and turns the bread brown. This will happen far more quickly in highly processed breads than traditional breads.
• Is it a pure natural loaf made with simple ingredients or is a highly processed loaf made with ingredients far removed from their natural source?
• Is it homemade? Bread made at home is delicious and you know what is in it!