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Why We Should Be Eating Better Bread and Drinking Better Wine
I have been making my own bread since reading about the ghastly Chorleywood process used in commercial breadmaking – developed in 1961. This is a high speed mechanical mixing process that allows the fermentation time to be drastically reduced, meaning that lower-protein British wheats can be used in place of more expensive North American imports. Various chemical improver and anti fungal agents are necessary ingredients, as are certain hydrogenated or fractionated hard fats. This is high-output, low labour production, designed to maximise efficiency and profit at the expense of the consumer. Mass produced bread is almost undoubtedly worse for you. Apart from the dubious additives and fat it contains, the short fermentation makes the wheat harder to digest. Indeed some believe the Chorleywood processing method is partly to blame for a sharp increase in gluten intolerance and allergy. It is also probable that the prolific crossbreeding and modification of modern-day wheat, to produce stronger, tougher, harder-to-digest gluten, has contributed to wheat intolerance.
Somewhere in the region of 98% of bread baked in this country is mass-produced and most of it comes from around a dozen huge plant bakeries. Supermarkets brag about their in-store bakeries but they are nothing more than mini versions of these plants, so are most of the local bakers – the ones where all loaves look identical, white & flat topped with little hint of baking activity save for the oven warming they may do for you to eat things there and then.
Real bread, when you make it yourself, has nothing in it except for flour (of many types & grains), water & salt. Yeast is needed but can either be bought dried or fresh, or captured wild from the air with a starter you can have going permanently at home. It stands to reason that with only these ingredients they must all be of the best quality possible. Good bread flour can be bought locally in Waitrose, or Alara, as can dried yeast. You do need good fine sea salt and the Cornish one is lovely and can be bought in a fine form in a tub. Water is best if you can afford mineral water but if you use tap water it contains chlorine and should be left to one side for 24 hours to kill some of it. The chlorine inhibits the development of the yeast.
Almost for the same reasons I have now started to drink only natural wines – although Waitrose still does not carry them I believe they are in talks with some natural wine producers so may stock them at some stage.
I went to he Natural Wine Fair at Borough Market in May and have not looked back since. Grapes are grown in vineyards that are farmed without using pesticides, fungicides, weed-killers or other synthetic chemicals or fertilizers. The grapes are born in vineyards that are literally full of life, and then, once they’re harvested and sent off to the winery, they’re turned into wine without using any additives apart from perhaps a small dash of SO2. Often they are harvested using horse and cart rather than tractors which compress the ground too much.
Producing natural wine is like walking on a tight rope without a safety net. Great natural wine producers are brave men and women who dare to go against the grain of the modern wine world. They are phenomenal observers of nature, who have great knowledge and sensitivity. They farm their land for tomorrow in an attempt to make wine that is as authentic and true as it can be.
These wines, in my opinion, are truly delicious without any vinegar tasting or harsh flavours in them. BBC radi 4 said they may be an acquired taste as can be cloudy looking or oxidised but this does not detract from the taste in the slightest. I had no need to acquire the taste as I got it immediately on my first tasting They are made in many countries that make wine now and although more expensive than the normal wine they are well worth it. I now drink wine less often but with a lot more pleasure and passion than glugging back the more usual wines. I found the red wines I used to drink could sometimes make me a bit nauseous on an empty stomach but this does not happen with the smooth & delectable natural wines that I am drinking now.