On the daily

America’s curse: sweet bread

There is an advantage to being a stranger in a strange land. Our perspective is fresh. So here is mine of the breadmakers of this magnificent republic. Really? Sugar / molasses/high fructose corn syrup / honey in every damn loaf?

My 7 year old son Harper is on a 17 week sugar strike. In return, he will be getting a cash reward. (yes, you can assess the ethics of that but let's stick to this for now). Lo and behold when the stakes are high, behaviour changes. I have never seen him so eager to read every label before he eats anything. Fruit is now the go-to snack (amen). So two weeks in and I am doing the weekly shop when it occurs to me that the bread we eat may have sugar in it. Why of course it does because bread here has to be sweetened with something and on the front panel of the loaf it says: "No High Fructose Corn Syrup". So there HAS to be sugar in there. And so it was. Every loaf had either sugar, HFCS, honey or molassess. That pinnacle of Scottish-American fusion fine dining, McDonalds puts so much sugar in its buns, they are classified not as a bakery item but as a confectionary item.

But why I ask? Why, in a daily staple is sugar or a sweetener involved? It is unique to the US. Every time I go back to Sydney (oh look, I didn't say home) I devour the bread as it is, well, bread. And it isn't sweet.

France, America's nemesis has it right. In 1993 they enacted the Bread Law which stated that bread must be additive-free and contain only four ingredients–wheat flour, water, salt and yeast. And yet my "Franz Oregon Trail 100% Natural, 100% Whole Wheat Grain" bread has sugar, palm oil, cornstarch, natural flavour, honey, salt, soy lecithin, wheat gluten, honey (again), yeast, soy bean oil, raisin juice concentrate, molasses, wheat bran, calcium sulfate, cultured wheat flour, vinegar, guar gum, non-fat milk.

This loaf hit the trifecta – sugar, honey and molasses. And thank goodness the milk is non-fat. And what is raisin juice doing in there.  And soy beans? Is this a stir fry? And define "natural flavor".

The obesity epidemic is hardly surprising. We are our own worst enemy. 


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