Sunday, November 20, 2011

Food for thought ...

"Since the 1950s farmers and food producers have been encouraged to produce the maximum amount of food for the minimum amount of cost. Bakers have been no exception, for they, too, have been under pressure to produce a cheaper, more long-lasting loaf. The result has been disastrous both in health and socio-economic terms.
Up to the end of 1960, bakers made bread in the traditional way. The turning point came in 1961, when the British Baking Industries Research Association at Chorleywood in Herefordshire invented a bread making method using low-protein wheat, a mesmerising assortment of additives and high-speed mixing. From the time flour went in at one end of the machine until the baked loaf emerged from the oven, it took less than two hours - as opposed to the five hours or more it took to make in the traditional way. This new method was enthusiastically embraced by industrial bakers.
More than 80% of the bread we buy is now being made by the Chorleywood Bread Process (CBP) method - or a similar process called ADD which stands for Activated Dough Development. Apart from the methods used by a few traditional and artisan bakers, this is the only option available. The fast production methods tick all the the boxes for efficiency and cheapness. They produce impressively light voluminous bread, soft and squishy with a long shelf life - in fact, a scarily long shelf life. I came across a sliced bread that was still soft, spongy and fresh after five weeks; how spooky is that - a technological marvel.
During the last 50 years the sales of bread have plummeted and the number of people with wheat allergies and full-blown coeliac disease has skyrocketed. Once the CDP was universally adopted all research was dedicated to producing varieties of short-stem wheat, strains of yeast and additives to facilitate this fast production method. Nourishment just simply wasn't a factor. Advances in functional properties of wheat have come at the expense of nutritional quality. Several research projects have shown that modern wheat varieties have less than half the mineral and trace element content of traditional wheat varieties.
The enzymes of 'processing aids'  that are added in the bread-making process are the modern baking industry's bid secret - a major cause for concern and mostly unidentified on the label. "

Taken from 'Forgotten Skills of Cooking' by Darina Allen.

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