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The Madness of the Modern Loaf

“Bread is the staff of life” or at least so the saying goes.  It's been a staple since the earliest times. And the baker is one of the oldest trades that still (just about) survives today.
 
Bread should be an occasional treat more than a staple food, and make it the best it can be.  Especially if you are slimming, bread is something to avoid! Fermented sourdough is the best type of bread to enjoy, make it homemade or artisan and preferably organic.
 
Corn, barley rye and of course wheat have been used throughout history. Today wheat is the focus, and is grown in hundreds of millions of tonnes every single year to meet demand. But the bread of today is a long way from that of old.
 
From pounding wheat between two stones, man built wind and water mills for bread making. Industry marched on and sophisticated machinery was developed to make bread quickly.  Gone are the days of gently cooking allowing the full flavour to emerge. Today, it 's about profit, and cooking as quickly as possible, which means extreme heat. Large amounts of yeast are added to further speed the process up.
 
As long ago as 1950, the House of Lords were debating the quality of flour for bread making, this is a fascinating read at the Hansard archives Here. What on earth would they have said about the modern loaf!
 
So it's no surprise that the modern loaf is so hard on many people's digestive system. Lots of people are taking wheat out of their diet. But is it the wheat to blame, or the highly refined, industrially produced bread?  (True Coeliac Disease / gluten intolerance is a separate matter).
 
Addtionally, the widespread use of toxic glyphosate on wheat crops is real cause for concern. Buying organic is really the best and only way around this issue. 
 

The Additives in Bread

The modern loaf, is packed with additives and synthetic nutrients.  It’s more the job of a chemist than a baker!
 
It was shortly after World War II that technology allowed for whiter than white bread. Popular with consumers, but not so popular with our bodies. White bread strips away wonderful vitamins and minerals. And so began the journey we are on, where what is taken away, is added back in synthetic form.
 
Legislation means UK bread has certain nutrients “put back”. These include thiamin, niacin, and calcium (typically from chalk or even crushed animal bones) and iron. Synthetic Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is added to make it easier to mix the bread at high speed.
 
E numbers are used for appearance, "texture" and shelf life. It is sufficient to state the type of additive and not it's full name or number.
 
Many say these additives are safe, but the combined "cocktail" nature of additives throughout the modern diet is cause for concern. Certainly for those with food allergies / digestive problems, these additives may aggravate the situation.
 
Yet more "supplements" are voluntarily added. They may make the loaf sound healthier (omega oils etc) but does it make up for the industrial process from wheat to bag?
 
We think additives should not be in our food, OR our supplements. And that's why we have been the UK's additive free supplement brand since 2007. Because health supplements, and food, should be, well, healthy!
 
 

Is it Vegetarian?

Many processing aids are used to make bread on a large scale. And they do not have to be declared. Campaigners have called for the baking industry to “come clean”, especially because there are particular issues for vegetarians.
 
In the quest for speed, enzymes are used and these can be from animal products. Because they are destroyed in the “cooking” process, they do not have to be included in the ingredients. This is a serious ethical issue for some.  The Federation of Bakers says...
 
“All wrapped bread produced in the UK is clearly labeled and strictly adheres to EU legislation, ensuring consumers can always make an informed choice about what they are buying. The vast majority of UK wrapped bread carries a label stating it is 'suitable for vegetarians'. This claim could not be made if the food contained any ingredients including any processing aids, which were of animal origin. As a result the Vegetarian Society is satisfied that the labeling of bread in the UK meets its requirements and is suitable for vegetarians where stated on pack”
 

What about "Fresh" bread in Supermarkets?

A report in March 2010 by the Real Bread Campaign found that in store bakeries in supermarkets are abusing terms such as "freshly baked" and that the additives being used are not disclosed in the fresh bakery aisle. You can go to the report Here and a news piece in the Daily Mail Here.
 
More recently in 2017, the lovely Real Bread Campaign took Tescos to task on their misleading advertising suggesting their bread is fresh and additive free.
 

The Folate Issue

Folate is an important nutrient in the B vitamin family. Considerable evidence has shown it is particularly important during pregnancy to protect against birth defects; but as with all key nutrients, it plays a role in many aspects of disease prevention.
 

The best dietary sources are lentils and leafy green vegetables for vegetarians, if you eat meat, liver is rich in folate. For the best natural B complex supplement on the market, see the amazing Zell Oxygen.

It is largely the role in pregnancy that has led to folate fortification; this is mandatory in America, Canada and Chile notably, but other countries have followed suit. However, a new study from Chile has supported other research from America that adding synthetic folic acid to bread, may be associated with an increased risk of colon cancer.
 
The decision for UK bread has been under consideration since 2010 and was seemingly rejected in 2016.
 
At Seventh Wave, we strongly believe that the use of isolated, synthetic nutrients is for most people, in most cases, not the way to go, whether that be in fortifying foods, or supplementing the diet. Certainly they may play a role in true cases of deficiency, but supplying your body with food state nutrients, balanced with all their essential key factors is preferable in the vast majority of cases. (See the Broad Spectrum Range)
 
 

So what of the Master Baker?

The Master Baker accounts for around 5% of all bread in this country. But there is a big shift back towards a more natural approach to food, and the benefits of traditional skills. The popularity of Real Bread is on the increase.
 
At the Real Bread Campaign website you can find out about bread making courses, suppliers of real bread in your area, recipes and more. A return to high quality, nutritious bread would have many benefits for the health of the nation.
 
 

The Best Bread?

Real artisan bread is definitely the best. You might even want to try your hand at making your own bread, bread making machines are easy to use these days. You get that perfect fresh taste, the wonderful smell in your kitchen, and best of all, you know exactly whats in there!
 
And when it comes to choosing bread or flour to make your own - organic, wholewheat stoneground is the way to go. But do experiment, Spelt Flour is another option, and many consider this to be easier to digest.
 
Or for something really different, try sourdough bread for a fermented bread packed with health benefits. Fermented foods are so good for you, and when it comes to bread, sourdough is probably the best choice.
 
 

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