By MICHAEL MATTIE (Past), ALICIA CARGO (Present) & HSIEN-HUEI “MERCY” WU (Future)
Bread in the past
Bread has been a staple of the human diet through most of our history. Our earliest knowledge of bread comes from around 8000 BCE and at that time “was likely merely chewed. Later it was discovered that it could be pulverized and made into a paste. Set over a fire, the paste hardened into a flat bread that kept for several days.”1 “At first grain was crushed by hand with pestle and mortar. In Egypt a simple grinding stone (quern) was developed.” 2 At this time there was no leavening agent in the bread and therefore all bread was flat. ”Flat breads are traditionally baked in portable clay ovens called tandoors.” 3 Some examples of flat breads that are still available today are Middle Eastern pita, Indian roti, paratha and naan, Armenian lavash and Norwegian lefse.
As the culture around bread evolved and more experimentation took place, in Egypt it was discovered that the introduction of yeast caused bread to rise, becoming lighter and fluffier. This knowledge spread across the sea to Greece and eventually the rest of Europe. “Bread and wheat were especially important in Rome where it was thought more vital than meat.” 4 The Romans set up a welfare system that was based primarily in the distribution of grain to the people.
Bread was also seen as an indicator of one’s social standing through much of history. Essentially, “the darker the bread, the lower the social station. This was because whiter flours were more expensive and harder for millers to adulterate with other products.”5 This is the opposite of today’s bread market where whole grains and darker breads are indicative of higher nutritional value and therefore more expensive. The process of producing bleached flour has also become so widespread and inexpensive that it is more expensive to produce darker, less refined breads.
The most important invention for bread in modern times besides the refining of flour is the bread slicer. It’s hard to believe that there was a time when bread was not available pre-sliced. It was not invented however, until 1917 by Otto Rohwedder. “Many companies were convinced that housewives wouldn’t be interested, and the bread-slicing machine wasn’t installed in a factory until 1928. However, within two years, 90% of store-bought bread was factory sliced.”6
Humans have a long history with bread in their diet. Important inventions and discoveries have helped bread evolve to become more readily available and convenient. Our goal of making bread the quickest and most nutritious continues to evolve.
Mixing the Old with the New- The Present State of Bread Making
In recent years there have been many trends in the food industry that are creating change in the lifestyles of individuals- gluten free products are taking over the shelves of grocery stores and populating the menus of popular restaurants. Gluten-free products are making an impact in more than just individual’s diets. It is shaping the culinary scene as well. Bakers are having to shift their traditional styles of baking to a more modern style. Many bakers are gaining inspiration from the past to gain better insight on which direction to move in towards as the demand for a different kind of bread is surfacing. “But while Old World bread styles are in, bakers are experimenting with new techniques that make those bread machines and no-knead recipes a thing of the past. With one eye on tradition and another to the future, bakers are making advances, inviting collaboration with scientists, farmers and millers” (“Bread”).
Bread is made from 1wheat flour, 2water, 3yeast and 4salt: with these four “simple” raw materials we succeed in making many thousands of different types of bread. Making bread in the future could put into four points: Local ingredients, technology, organic ingredients, and solar energy.
Various kinds of bread are around the world, included Taiwan, Brazil, Quebec, India, Germany, Basque country, Jewish, and Mexico. If you are making Taiwanese bread in New York, the basic ingredients would affect the result. Therefore, local ingredient suppliers develop in the future. The ingredients includes wheat flour, water, yeast, and salt are all from local. Customer are not only have the local ingredients from around world but also have the instruction for making bread.
In the future, smartphone and internet are the trends. Customer use smartphone, or online to track their making bread process. Technology also reduces the average making bread time from 3-5 hours for general bread to 30 minutes. Everything in the future is efficient, quality, and organic.
What is “organic” product? If you ask any 10 people to define the terms “organic” or “organically grown,” chances are no two responses would be quite the same. The fact is, there is presently no single, nationally agreed-upon definition of organic produce. However, a number of states have enacted organic food legislation which sets standards for organic foods through labeling requirements and state-run or state-sanctioned certification programs.
In general, these organic certification programs define organic produce in terms of allowable “inputs” such as fertilizers and means of pest control. Although not identical, the programs’ lists of “allowable materials” are fairly similar. Most organic certification programs have not one but three lists: generally allowable materials, restricted materials, and prohibited materials. Worth noting: Not all natural pesticides are automatically placed on the “allowable” list. For example, rotenone and sapodilla, two natural pesticides, are often on the “restricted” lists because of their toxicity to organisms other than target pests. Two other natural pesticides, arsenic and strychnine, are usually on the “prohibited” list due to their toxicity to no target organisms.
New types of electricity would be a concern in the future. People have more conscious for energy saving. Building construction would pay more attention on energy saving as well. They put solar energy panel on the roof. Of course, in the future, the price of solar energy would be reduced.
CHANTAL MARTINEAU (2012), 8 Breads From Around The World
Chris Riedy (2013), Baking bread for a sustainable future
Elaine Luo (2014), Pineapple Bun—Bolo Bao Recipe
Popkin, Roy(2012), EPA Journal. May/Jun90, Vol. 16 Issue 3, p31. 3p. 1