B1 Intermediate US 28 Folder Collection
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Bread has been a staple on the human diet for thousands of years.
But for the last few decades, modern diets have villainized the baked
good. And bread has been taking a hit over the years.
Total U.S. sales have been stagnant since 2015, showing little to no
growth leading up to 2020.
And on average, Americans spent less money on bread in 2017 than they did
just four years earlier.
Not to mention the fact that some of the country's biggest bread
manufacturers are complaining about the rising costs of key ingredients in
an industry where small players battle low margins and excess capacity.
The bread business has to consolidate Sara Lee and Wonderbread, two of the
biggest names in bread.
Both were bought out by publicly traded flour foods in 2012 and 2013,
respectively. And another big problem for bread.
It's facing increased scrutiny for some of its extra ingredients.
Things like chemical dough conditioner's, preservatives, added sugar and
GMO's. Those additives helped manufacturers produce a loaf in less time,
prolong a shelf life and keep the bread soft.
But bread is making a comeback.
Well, specifically, this preservative free artisan, tangy flavored
sourdough bread sourdough was made with just two ingredients, whereas a
loaf of Wonderbread has over 20 ingredients.
Another big difference sourdough can take up to seven days to make from
scratch versus just a few hours to make commercial bread.
There's also a price difference.
From 2015 to 2019.
sourdough bread sales have seen significant growth.
Sourdough is also growing more popular at restaurants in 2019, it was on
14.3 percent of restaurant menus, up from 11.6
percent ten years earlier. Even DIYers are getting in on the sourdough
craze. Now sending days baking bread is the cool thing to do.
Instagram is full of DIY self-taught bakers making their own sourdough.
Even coders out in Silicon Valley are blogging about the fermentation
graphs of their sourdough starters.
And perhaps most importantly, health evangelists are praising the benefits
of adding sourdough bread into your diet.
Between sourdough is almost cult like following on social media and a more
health focused consumer base looking for better food options; s ourdough
bread is more popular than ever.
According to a survey, almost nine out of 10 people know about sourdough
and another seven out of 10 have tried it.
In the U.S. alone, sourdough is a multibillion dollar market between 2014
and 2018. Sourdough's market value in America jumped from 229.7
million dollars to 2.4
billion dollars. The question now?
Is the sourdough market destined to keep rising?
Or is it just another fad destined to fade away?
Sourdough was made with just two basic ingredients flour and water.
You mix them together. Leave it at room temperature over time and feed the
same amount of flour and water for a few days.
That m ixture when exposed to the elements eventually starts to bubble and
that bubbling is actually a chemical change called fermentation.
What's happening is that microbes from the surrounding environment are
essentially colonizing the dough t hen growing and dividing.
Basically turning it into a medley of flour, water, bacteria and wild
yeast, which is a single celled fungi.
The bubbling mixture is called a sourdough starter, and you could think of
it as a living thing. All that bacteria is generating lactic acid and the
yeast is actively feeding off starches in flour.
It pumps the resulting carbon dioxide and ethanol into the dough.
The carbon dioxide expands the gluten network in the dough, while the acid
in alcohol is what gives sourdough its sour taste.
It also digests this gluten network and allows the enzymes present in the
flour to do their job, like cutting the starches into edible pieces of
sugar for the yeast.
Though sourdough, whose origin story has been contested over the years,
the first written record of sourdough dates back around 4000 B.C.
in ancient Egypt.
The first written evidence on sourdough is from the pyramids,
and there are hieroglyphs showing people making beer and bread in the same
hieroglyphs. So this is crossover fermentation.
The sourdough starter was discovered when a mixture of flour and water was
exposed to the elements over time.
The mixture began to bubble and rise, a process we now know is called
fermentation. Rather than throw out the odd smelling and expanding
mixture. The mystery cook decided a baker anyway.
The result? A large round, spongy loaf of bread that we now call
sourdough. Since ancient Egypt, this method of bread making was passed
down from civilization to civilization, from ancient Rome to ancient
Greece all the way to the American Yukon gold rush.
Using a sourdough starter was pretty much the only way of making bread for
thousands of years.
But things started to change for sourdough during the later half of the
19th century. Now, as the population kind of changed and we went towards
cities, we always had to feed a population on an industrialized scale, so
we had the creation of an industrialized bread system.
It wasn't until the mid 19th century that scientists caught on to the
microbiology behind what makes bread rise.
Once they knew about wild yeast and how it works, a race set off to figure
out how to make it available to the masses.
Brothers Charles and Maximilian Fleischmann were one of the first to bring
commercial use to the market on a large scale when they unveiled their
product to 10 million people at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in
The only problem it was perishable and would go bad after two weeks in the
fridge. It wasn't until World War II that the bread business was totally
revolutionized. As the wall came in, we readily the American
side. They contacted the Fleischmann brothers, who were the people who
originally discovered that you could turn yeast into a tablet.
And in the 1940s, the push was produced fast bread for
soldiers. The Fleischmann Company improved on its original yeast product
by creating the first ever active dry yeast.
It didn't require refrigeration and could be easily activated with warm
water. Fleischman's active dry yeast was a game changer to the commercial
bread business as well.
After the war ended, active drug use was brought to the retail market and
the mass production of bread in the US took off, which was bad news for
the slow-bake sourdough bread.
Out went the use of sourdough starters in came in what we see today, large
commercial bakeries filling grocery stores with ready made pre sliced
bread wrapped in cellophane that could last for weeks.
By 1944, 85 percent of the bread that was made in the United States came
from large commercial bakeries, according to a survey conducted at that
time. From the 1950s up through today, bread companies have continued to
add extra ingredients to its products in order to make bread faster than
ever and to prolong its shelf life.
But the same chemical additives that helped industrialize spread quickly
and cheaply brought on a laundry list of health concerns for shoppers.
Well, why not post World War II anymore, We're in a very, very different
And so this very fast plastic kind of bread,
which was really, I guess done out to the well-meaning sort of aim, is
actually causing issues across the globe with people's health, wellness,
blood sugar management, calorific management and the amount of
nutrition they get from their base food.
2000 was the year of peak grain when the average American 137.6
pounds of grain in a year, mostly in the form of breads and other baked
goods. According to the USDA, per capita consumption of flour was 146
pounds per person in 2000.
In 2018, it had fallen to 132 pounds.
It's all been downhill from there.
The timing dovetails with the rise of low fat and low carb diets in the
90s and early 2000s.
This decline has also come as more and more Americans are diagnosed with
an allergy to gluten.
Remember gluten? It's the protein that plays a key role in helping dough
to rise. The number of Americans following the gluten free diet triple
from 2013 to 2018, according to Sundale Research and gluten free products
appear to be virtually everywhere.
Nearly 30 percent consumers are now buying foods with gluten free labels,
and sales of gluten free foods reach 17 billion dollars in 2018, more than
double the amount spent in 2011.
All this may seem like a doomsday scenario for sourdough bread, but
sourdough is actually proving to be one option for bread lovers who want
to eat the real thing without facing nearly as many side effects as its
commercial bread rivals.
So why is that? sourdough is typically more nutritious than regular bread.
It's easier to digest and is a potential better option for blood sugar
control. The reason it all comes down to the active drugs versus sourdough
starter. What makes the sourdough starter so special are all the
micro-organisms derived from the fermentation process.
Commercial bread misses out on that.
It uses an active dry yeast which simulates the chemical process that
makes bread rise. However, it lacks the naturally occurring fungi and
bacteria that sourdough bread has.
Here's why that matters. Sourdough slow fermentation process makes a lot
easier for our bodies to absorb important nutrients.
All of those micro-organisms and sourdough also promote gut metabolic
health. Sourdough also doesn't lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes.
It actually slows down the speed at which glucose is released into the
bloodstream, which is a great thing for diabetics who have to watch their
insulin levels. Sourdough has another big thing going for it.
Store-bought bread has been put under intense scrutiny for the extra
ingredients manufacturers add in order to extend shelf life.
These include everything from extra gluten, fat, reducing agents,
emulsifiers enzymes and preservatives.
Some U.S. commercial breads, along with a lot of other foods found in
grocery stores, were slammed for using the same chemical ingredient found
in yoga mats. When I first discovered making sourdough bread, I realized
even the best bread I was giving my family wasn't real bread.
It had 38 ingredients in it and should just be flour, water, salt and
yeast. And I make a lot of it and we eat a lot of it.
And we're not getting fat from it and we're not getting sick from it.
And my friends that have thought they had gluten issues had no problem
with it. And it wasn't that it was gluten, it was that we were eating
chemicals and fake processed food.
Sourdough's surge in popularity isn't just linked to health conscious
consumers. It's actually developed a cult like following on social media
and has drawn attention from a new wave of DIY bakers.
In 2019, one of the founders of Microsoft's Xbox, Seamus Blackley,
resurrected a sourdough starter dating back over 4000 years to ancient
Egypt. Blackley used dormant yeast and bacteria from ancient Egyptian
pots. He mixed those samples with the sourdough starter he made, creating
this sourdough loaf with its origins dating back to ancient Egypt.
Blackley isn't alone in his affinity for delving into the science behind
sourdough. Silicon Valley coders are charting out their fermentation of
their starter cultures to try to understand the inner workings of all of
its microbes. Since sourdough starters all contain living microorganisms,
it requires constant attention, like all living things.
If a startup is probably taking care of it can last for years, decades and
sometimes generations.
N one of us has something that is old, you know, if you have something
that's a hundred years old, it's almost certainly an heirloom that was
given to you. It's a set of earrings that came from your great grandmother
or some vase that came from the old country but it's not something alive .
Imagine having something alive that's a hundred years old.
So the stories that come with starters, I think are valuable.
I think part of recapturing of culture.
Maintaining your own sourdough starter isn't an easy business.
It requires constant feeding to ensure that the same starter can be used
over and over again. Feeding a starter looks like this.
It's just simply adding a little bit of flour and water to the mixture.
And over time, it becomes like taking care of a new family pet.
There's a whole schedule.
It's like a pet. It's like, you know, you don't just get a goldfish and
then leave town for three months.
It's like you need to feed this thing.
Like this is this is mine right here.
And this is one of two.
And when I take off, I'm you know, I'm a comedian.
When I'm on the road, I'm constantly thinking, like, who's going to feed
it? That's where unique sourdough business like Matias Jakobsen's comes
into play. Jakobsen has been baking sourdough for nearly eight years, and
for five years Jakobsen has been operating The Sourdough Inn in Brooklyn.
He takes care of people starters while they're on vacation, feeding them
with flour and water a few times a week.
The questions I ask as part of the check-in process, like I want to know
how how they currently feed it.
And, you know, just so I understand what they're trying to do with it.
So they told me like they would prefer to just feed it, you know, around
every five days and generally keep it in the fridge.
And this one is a very, very low maintenance in terms of what it means
generally that the sourdoughs have had had not been any kind of peculiar
requests. And then other than that, I think it's like meeting as people
that are passionate about something.
So I always ask about people, you know, how they started making sourdough
and why. According to his website, Jakobsen charges $15 per week for hotel
services and also runs a training and rehabilitation service that revives
a starter for about $60 per session.
The idea for sourdough Hotel in Brooklyn actually originated from a
sourdough hotel that started in Sweden.
There is a sourdough hotel in Stockholm and Scandinavia has a generally
advanced bread culture.
So in Stockholm, obviously there was this sourdough Hotel and they were
teasing and well, because you bake bread Matias, you need to be the one to
start a Brooklyn sourdough hotel.
You really you really need to do that in Sweden.
Some bakers could bring their starters to R.C.
Chocolat. It's a bakery based in Stockholm that charges their guests 100
Swedish krona or roughly $10 per week for each of their starters as of
February 19th 2020.
And about a 1,000 miles southwest of Stockholm, there is another place for
several starters are looked after and handled with extreme care.
And it's in the world's only sourdough starter library.
The collection last week was 115.
But now we have up to 125.
So I will.
So these are the fridges and they are filled w ith the different
s ourdoughs. This is Karl De Smedt .
He's the head baker of Puratos and he runs the first and only sourdough
starter library. And then here we have number 43,
which was actually my very first sour do I saw in my life.
Back in 2013, the company Puratos launch its sourdough Library in Saint
Vith, Belgium. The library develops, researches and preserves the
biodiversity of different sourdough starters for the future.
And while they're just 125 starters in the library's walls, there are over
1,600 starters registered in the company's digital library from all around
the world. Each new starter that arrives to the library is sent to a lab
for analysis, a process that can cost anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 dollars
to analyze a single starter.
So every sourdough that we get into the library is sent to a university
with whom we work together.
That can be in Italy and France and Spain.
And there the sourdough is actually placed on petri dishes and then they
grow the cultures.
And as such, it takes about three months, forty five working days on
average. You can select the different colonies on these petri dishes and
grow and grow and grow them further.
Then we we are actually taking all these different microorganisms and we
have these little test tubes where we sort of isolated strain is put in
there and that can be a yeast or lactic acid bacteria.
And as such, the sourdough strains are preserved for the future.
In the library, there are some starters that date back centuries.
The baker who gave me it is said that it must be from 1886, more or less.
Then we have this one, which is number one hundred.
That's a sourdough that we have from a bakery in the centre of Tokyo.
And that was a sourdough that has been developed by Mr.
Kimura, and he was one of the last samurai, and he converted himself into
a baker, and one of his friends was making saké based on rice, and so he
converted his sourdough into rice.
And so this is now the only rice sourdough we have in the library and it
dates back to 1875.
And then this one is from Ioane Christensen in Whitehall's.
And she was the first mayor of Whitehall's and senator of Yukon.
And this sourdough dates back to 1896 when her great grandfather was
participating in the Klondike Goldrush.
So why spend thousands just to analyze starters several decades old, Karl
says the research that they're providing actually helps the bakers of
today and the future.
Through DNA analysis, t hey are identified.
And as such, we have discovered now more than 900, 950 different strains
already from two from six genus of yeast and six genus of lactic
acid bacteria. Since its discovery, sourdough has been a key fixture
across different cultures and countries around the world.
Bread has been a staple food for the last 5000 years and it will probably
be the staple food for the next 5000 years, maybe more, because it
is a fantastic product that can be set in the middle of the table and
unite all the good things.
Sourdough has survived the invention of commercial, active, dry east, no
carb diets, and some analysts say sourdough has a lot more room for
growth. But with the rise of sourdough, so too comes the rise of
"sourfaux" bread.
Sourfaux is a term used for retail bread that claims to be traditional
sourdough, but in fact sourfaux has the same commercial use additives and
flavoring as a cellphone wrapped in retail bread.
As impostors flood the market, some worry it would be bad for sourdough
street cred as a locally produced artisanal premium product offering a
healthy alternative to commercial rivals.
But sourdough experts like Tom Papa aren't too worried.
The reason why we're the first generation that has all of these issues,
we're heavier than ever before.
We're being told that you can't eat bread.
You're being told that all this stuff makes you sick.
It's not the case.
The cases that four in my lifetime we've been eating a lot of things that
we're not food. They were food adjacent.
So I really think that processes like this, like making sourdough bread
and making things, making real food is just going to get bigger and
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The Rise Of Sourdough

28 Folder Collection
day published on April 20, 2020
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