Our daily bread

We humans have been eating bread for a very long time. It has been a part of our diet for more than 10,000 years. Bread recipes did not change much for thousands of years; it was mostly made from just four ingredients: flour, water, yeast and salt. Yet when you go to your local supermarket today, you will find breads with many other substances listed among the contents on the labels.

These days, you are likely to find the bread has some kind of sugar, for example, molasses, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, or honey.  Breads often include a variety of chemicals and salts added to make them last longer on the shelf and, supposedly, to improve the texture and quality of the bread (although I am not sure “improve” is the right word to use when chemicals are added to food). Some examples of these “improvers” and preservers are sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium propionate, monoglycerides, and azodicarbonamide (a chemical also used in the production of plastics). These additives do not sound very appetizing or healthy to me.  It’s not just what is added to bread that has changed, fiber and the wheat germ (the most nutritional part of the wheat) is often removed from supermarket breads.

When shopping for bread, always choose wholegrain bread, then try to find the one with the shortest list of ingredients possible. And try to avoid buying bread with lots of added sugar, which is usually when sugar is listed among the top five ingredients. Sugar does help the yeast activate and the bread rise, but extra is also added by manufacturers to cover up the taste of some of the preservatives and salt.  Remember that added sugar provides extra calories to your diet without any nutritional benefit.

Alvarado Street Bakery has breads with a relatively short list of ingredients, and without lots of added sugars.

Or try baking your own bread. Try this recipe for Australian Damper bread.

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