I can’t find you the link to the exact radio story I was listening to yesterday, but it was regarding this story on one large baker finding it uneconomical to deliver fresh bread supermarkets everyday.
I don’t have a great lot of sympathy for Goodman Fielder who are named in this story as the company trying to find a way to make bread last 10-14 days so they don’t have to do expensive daily deliveries. They are a multi-million dollar, multi-national company who are in the business of making money for their shareholders. Except, of course, for the fact that they are victims of our supermarket duopoly system in Australia. The big supermarkets are continuing their war for our wallets by discounting the “basics”. They sell bread for $1 a loaf. At first we think “What a bargain!”. Then we taste it and realise $1 is a lot to pay for something with the taste and texture of cardboard! But with the cost of living rising we are on the lookout for a deal and keep going back for more. But in the long term we suffer.
We suffer because $1 is less than the cost of production. When supermarket suppliers are squeezed like this they have to compromise. Though technically bread is just flour, water, salt and yeast, they add fats, emulsifiers and preservatives to the bread to make it keep longer. The product that we get is perhaps better named “modified bread product”. Then we suffer because adding all this other crap to food isn’t good for us. As much as governmental regulators can call these artificial things “safe” they haven’t stood the test of time. Flour, water, yeast and salt have been nourishing humans for thousands of years…that’s what I call a reliable long term study.
So what can you do? Firstly, don’t buy the cheap stuff! Resist the packaged stuff as much as you can afford and go to a good bakery. Read the ingredient list and look for a product with just the basic ingredients. This might mean that you use the bread a little more sparingly at home, but you are using your grocery dollars to send the message that you want real food. Secondly, make it yourself. Rhonda’s tutorials at Down to Earth are great guides to get you started. If you are worried about the time factor, consider a bread-maker or take a look at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ideas to work sourdough bread-making around a busy out-of-home working life.