It’s Real Bread Maker Week – we’re joined by Real Bread Campaign’s coordinator Chris Young who shares his thoughts about our daily bread. Do you enjoy real bread or are you happy to settle for a supermarket loaf?
How would you like to see the future unfold: a time in which all loaves are made in enormous out-of-town factories employing relatively few people where they produce more and more additive-laced, fluffy loaves that people squeeze like toilet rolls in the supermarket?
Or would you rather see a growing multitude of small, independent bakeries owned and run by members of your local community baking delicious, genuinely fresh, genuinely good value real bread? Would you rather support payouts for shareholders or more jobs per loaf?
The state of ‘bread’ in Britain
There was a time when all loaves came fresh from our own ovens, or from neighbourhood bakeries that gave skilled employment to tens of thousands of people within our local communities. It was a time of baking bread with nothing but natural ingredients, time, skill and passion.
Now, between 95% and 97% of the loaves we buy are made by just a handful of industrial baking operators and the supermarkets themselves.
Often these are laced with artificial additives, made using higher levels of yeast than traditional baking and methods that don’t allow the dough to ‘ripen’ in its own time. It’s possible that one or more of these contribute to the problems some people report after eating industrial loaves.
So what can I do?
Well, at the Real Bread Campaign, we reckon a good start would be to know what you’re buying. Is that crusty, nice-smelling supermarket in-store bakery baguette all it appears?
Was it in fact part-baked elsewhere using a cocktail of processing aids or other artificial additives, then finished off in the shop’s ‘loaf tanning salon’? Was that ‘wholemeal’ factory loaf made with only whole grain wheat flour, or is there barley, soya, and added wheat protein in there too?
And we say support your local independent bakery! If you’re lucky enough to have one near you, pop in, have a chat and pick up a delicious loaf. For the sake of more local jobs per loaf, we believe it’s worth paying an honest price for an honest crust. And to see if it’s what we call Real Bread, look for The Loaf Mark!
Roll up your sleeves
Another way to make sure you and your family get the best is to bake your own bread at home. Whether by hand or by bringing an unloved bread machine back into use, home baking allows you to take control of exactly what does – and doesn’t – go in the food you and your kids (if you have them) enjoy. Home-baked real bread: now that’s true good value!
What do you think about mass-produced supermarket loaves? Do you bake your own bread or support your local independent bakery?
Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from Real Bread Campaign coordinator Chris Young – all opinions expressed here are their own, not necessarily those of Which?