Why Our Daily Bread
The food we consume today invariably has either some preservatives, fungicides, insecticides, anti-mould agents, colouring agents, stabilisers, conditioners, or other toxic chemicals, eg. BPA, an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. On 2nd Dec 2009, the ‘Scientific American’ reported that minority infants in the U.S. are born carrying hundreds of chemicals in their bodies. The Environmental Working Group’s study commissioned five laboratories to examine the umbilical cord blood of 10 babies of African-American, Hispanic and Asian heritage and they found more than 200 chemicals in each newborn!
It’s said, “We are what we eat!” Fortunately, in many instances we do have a choice to try eating food with less toxic chemicals and pollutants.
Not so long ago when I was browsing through the bread shelf at a well known supermarket here, I looked at the labels of the commercially made breads, and saw amongst the ingredients a preservative 282. Whipping out my handphone, I instantly Googled to see what this preservative 282 is. Also called E282 or calcium propionate, this chemical is an anti mould agent.
In an Australian Broadcast, The World Today on 20th August 2002, Anne Baxter a reporter, says that more than 50% of children in an experimental group had behavioural and discipline problems consuming the bread with preservative 282 in it.
In another report, E282 has been linked to allergic reactions and sleep disturbances in those with frequent close contact to it. Like all forms of propionic acids, calcium propionate is also linked to migraine headaches. These are just a few of the side effects of E282.
These facts only re-enforced my determination to bake my own bread. The addition of chemicals to achieve a longer shelf-life is for the benefit of the manufacturer. Why consume freshly baked bread containing an anti-mould?
Since then, as far as possible, I try to bake bread at home where I know what ingredients go into the bread we consume. Hence, “Our Daily Bread”! I make sufficient bread to be consumed in three days, because by the fourth day, mould appears.
Never sniff mould that you see on food – that can lead to respiratory problems if the mould spores are inhaled. Wrap mouldy food in a bag or in plastic before throwing it out and discard it in a trash can with a lid.
Clean the area where the item was stored and check other food items nearby to see if they have been contaminated, since moulds can spread easily through the air or by contact with contaminated foods.
Eating mouldy foods, including bread, can be dangerous because you could be eating mycotoxins, or fungal poisons. Some types of mould can cause food poisoning, which can make you ill and result in stomach cramps, fever, diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea.
“If you wanted to create a nation of underperforming children, you could hardly do better than to add a preservative known to cause learning difficulties to an everyday staple food.”
– Sue Dengate –
In my following Blog pages, I will feature simple bread recipes that you might like to try. Many recipes I use now do not require kneading. I don’t use or own a bread making machine. But I strongly suggest that you use your hands to knead if the recipe calls for this, to learn what a good dough looks and feels like, as this is the basis for successful bread making. I know some people use a bread machine to knead their dough, then interrupting the machine to carrying on to shape the dough. I have no problems with this, but it is always preferred to hand knead to know your dough! This is how I started, kneading the dough till my wrists hurt since I was baking very frequently. But Jim Lahey’s ‘No Knead’ method has revolutionised bread making and, as he says, ” Even a six year old can bake better bread found in any bakery in the country.”!
“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”
― Mahatma Gandhi ―