In answer to the latest poll question, “Where do you buy your bread?”, you responded as follows:
Don’t buy bread, make at home: 51%
At the supermarket: 21%
At the local baker: 15%
At a baker far away (cannot get good bread locally): 8%
Farmers’ market: 5%
So, what does this all mean?
It is fantastic to see that so many of you make your own bread. We are genuinely interested to know how you make it and what kind you make so please leave us a comment and answer our poll about bread makers if you have not already done so. For the folk who buy their bread at the supermarket and the local baker I encourage you to read the label of the bread you are buying and ask the baker (or the person working in the bakery section) to find out what is in your bread. As a general rule, if you cannot pronounce it, it’s probably not good for you. Many additives go into bread that enable bakers (of industrial and small scale) to bake bread faster, and consumers to keep bread longer. Sadly, neither your local baker, not the in-store bakery section of the supermarket may be as good as you think. Many of these bakers use pre-fabricated bread mixes (to which they add water and stir) which are full of the same kinds of additives you may find in an industrially baked loaf on the supermarket shelf. Unwrapped bread, either at the local bakery or the bakery department of a supermarket, does not require a label containing a list of ingredients. If this is the bread you are buying, and if you are interested in knowing what it contains, you will have to ask – but maybe this will spur you on:
Did you know that the average baguette in the average french supermarket and and french boulangerie is basically white sliced bread in a fancy baguette shape? Cool, huh? Or not, depending on your point of view. The fancy shaped, unwrapped loaf for which you are paying extra may not be any better than the bagged, sliced bread on the shelf. If you are going to spend the extra money, you should get value for it so make sure it is better quality. If we want the quality of the bread in supermarkets and local bakers to improve, we need to be the ones who push for that change. Business owners will sell good quality bread if we ask for it. Good quality bread (in the broadest sense) has few (ideally no) additives, is proofed slowly to maximise our ability to digest it effectively without getting tummy aches, and does not come in a plastic bag. Bread freezes well and it weighs less than a tin of beans. If you can only get to the shops once a week you may want to consider buying lots of good bread and freezing it.
For those of you who buy bread far away, you remind me of my mother (that is a compliment). One of the inspirations behind Virtuousbread.com, my mother cried every day when she arrived in Canada from Germany because she could not get good bread. She baked at home until a German bakery opened. At that point the bread department of the home bakery went on strike and she would drive an hour to the Dimpflmeier bakery (then a little shack on the outskirts of Toronto, now a huge concern) and buy loaves that were as big as babies, cut them up and put them in the freezer. I ate “graubrot”, the most basic German bread made with sourdough and rye and wheat flours, without exception until I left home. If you are not in the habit of buying bread and taking it home to put in the freezer, it’s a great idea. When you are out and about and if you find a place with great bread, a bakery or a farmers’s market, buy an extra couple of loaves and freeze them. Good bread is more expensive, whether you buy it at a good bakery or a farmers’ market. You should always ask what’s in it, for sure, and you may see why you are paying more. No matter how expensive good bread is, however, it’s interesting to remember that it is not much more expensive than a cup of coffee which, on average, sells for between £1.50 and £3.00 depending on what you have and where you buy it.
Statistically speaking, it is impossible that the participants of the poll are representative of the population in the Western developed world, in which only only a fraction of us makes our own bread. Given it is our aim to spread the bread message and inform all people’s bread choices – whether or not people ever choose to make bread is neither here nor there. What is important is that we all eat good bread so PLEASE send this website’s link to everyone you know to get them reading groovy stuff about bread which, let’s face it, is a groovy topic.