The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

the case for wonder bread

Jw's picture

the case for wonder bread

I found this presentation from Louise Fresco today, you might like it too. There were no TFL members in her audience...
What if the world would go back to baking its own bread? Would that be a bad thing?


SulaBlue's picture

I had to laugh a bit at the hand-raising when asked who preferred the Wonder Bread. Her explanation that most people preferred it because they had the feeling/image that the whole grain was more "authentic" sorta rubbed me. I'd guess it has more to do with the fact that most supermarket white bread tastes like raw flour paste once you chew it.

ehanner's picture

She makes the point well that the wealthy countries can and should help the poor nations develop an agriculture system to cheaply supply the masses with flour.  It is flour after all that has the great potential to prevent starvation.

I'm a fan of the TED system. Thanks for bringing that link forward.


Yerffej's picture

That is indeed a good point.  I found that her talk was a bit too pro modernization, pro mechanization, and pro science.  Science in particular has clearly failed where food is involved.  One need look no further than the general state and health of so many Amercicans to realize that something is very wrong. 

We need more science like we need more DDT or Agent Orange or PCB's etc. etc.

I too am a big TED fan and agree that we should all help our neighbors whether locally or globally,


foolishpoolish's picture

We should be careful where to lay the finger of blame. Science did not fail the public. Using technological innovation to increase profit margins may have done.


tjkoko's picture

Where food is concerned, science has NOT failed.  Rather, it's the lack of physical activity that's led to heart disease and that phenomenon seemed to occur around the late 1800's thanks to Henry Ford and the exodus from farm living.

LindyD's picture

Or Science.  Or bread, for obesity.

How about personal responsibility? 

If you overeat, stuff your face with overprocessed junk food, and refuse to walk if you can ride, then you suffer the consequences of your choices.  

Crider's picture

The world has already ramped up grain production in the past 40 years, and we've done a pretty good job of feeding an ever-growing population. But unfortunately that can't continue forever. I still remember when crude oil hit $140 a barrel. The recession brought down the price, but the reason why it went so high in the first place is that production hasn't kept up with demand. When the recession ends and demand starts rising again, so will the cost of diesel, fertilizer, electricity for irrigation pumps and everything else which goes into making that bag of flour. It's no coincidence that when the price of oil skyrocketed, so did the price of wheat.

Richard Manning here talks about how the world avoided massive world famine in the 1960s thanks to breeding programs and access to cheap, abundant fossil fuels.

dausone's picture

I agree with some of the things Louise Fresco says in that video, but there are some things she says that just trouble me. I think an important factor that was left out when re-thinking food in large cities was Community Supported Agriculture. Also, the downplaying of farmers markets, small scale, traditional farming and small bakeries, calling them mere fallacies is unfortunate. I realize that she might be talking more about a global food supply when putting down these 'utopian ideals' but for my location, and many large cities I imagine, it works perfectly.

Another thing that really got to me was how she was talking about the 'poor farmer' in third world countries. Are we expecting third world farmers to produce food for the world too, on a large scale? We should never allow them to pick weeds by hand, or pick up a hoe, or god forbid grow some food for their own community? What is up with her attitude towards the notion of work, that somehow working by hand is beneath human dignity? Is it as easy as selling some more labor saving devices or leaving it up to science? Large scale industrial farming will never be an answer to world hunger, never, not in a million years and it will never be able to teach a poor farmer how to grow food biodynamically, holistically and in accordance with nature... if it does I will eat my shoe.

Yerffej's picture

Those "poor farmers" that she refers to are likely to enjoy a higher quality of life than many in the USA who feel their lives are ruined because they are unable to afford the new BMW.  It is also likely that they can make better bread than most of us....unless Monsanto has a stranglehold on their crops.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

then I got to thinking, if all the labor was done by machines in countries where manual labor in is over abundance, it just might have the effect of reducing the population in those countries.  Think of it.  The farmer would no longer need and raise a large family, people would feel crowded together wishing to reduce their family size.  Just looking at the wonder bread being offered as food for a starving nation would certainly lead to starvation or a food riot.

Who is her audience?  I got the feeling big business was behind her efforts or was she being sarcastic?

I feel that  countries with lots of man-power should have their people working instead of bringing in lots of equipment so that 60% can sit on their butts and their governments can pile up debts.  (Wonder where they got that idea?)  Just because there are countries where "white bread" might feed more people, doesn't mean they would like it or would substitute it into their diets (not to mention allergies).  Common sense tells you that there is more food value in that heavier loaf of bread than in the fluff inside the plastic bag that is so brightly packaged and collapses with a heavy grip.  

Each country changes at it's own pace and it is unfair for us to impose our ideas of "what we think works for us, must work for you"  onto other cultures with other histories and biodiversity.  The world is far too complex for a simplistic approach.  White bread to solve a country's woes?   When a country is approached in this manner from another I just can't agree with it.  Gee, we all don't even agree on one perfect type of bread!  What works in one household may or may not work for another.  Flour is different, water, clima, memories, all the variables!  Nope, education is the way and science is part of that.  What works, considering the variables, will be unique to each situation although some basics apply. 

One more thought:  Not every culture is a bread culture! 


dausone's picture

Great points mini. I got that feeling too about her audience. They probably weren't us I'm almost certain... but then again you never can tell these days.

I was thinking about your comment on machines and reducing the population. Specifically made me think of the use of machines in farming and how most machines have forced us to change the way we think about growing food. Some of those machines made us think more about commodity and monoculture crops than polyculture crops. The evolution of farming here in the US pretty much has ignored the historical culture of farming and formed its own model, for better or worse. So what is needed in order for industrial farming to be successful in a global sense? First we might need to consider resolving some problems: deteriorating topsoil, corporate agribusiness, seed monopolies, over fertilization, different types of fertilization, the use of fossil fuels in production, integrating models of polyculture into large industrial farming and most importantly looking at government subsidies, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. None of these issues are brought up in that talk. There is great importance in looking back to how farming has evolved over thousands and thousands of years and there is nothing wrong with adhering to sound, traditional practices in farming as they were and continue to be successful for a reason.

I just got a dvd in the mail yesterday, The Polyface Farm. Amazing to see how much actually goes into farming that has nothing, yet everything to do with the food we eat. I only spotted one machine operating in that video, a tractor, yet I did see a whole lot of innovation in terms of complimentary systems used to maximize the amount of food grown per acre and still remain environmentally sound. I realize this might be an impractical model for some, but the lessons taught on this farm are invaluable and unavoidable.

summerbaker's picture

I assume that it is the same Polyface Farm that is mentioned in The Omnivore's Dilemma.  I'll have to watch it - I'd like to see the practices of that farm in action!


dausone's picture

Yes it is. Joel Salatin's farm in Virginia. Im not able to make it out to the farm anytime soon since I am on the west coast but this is the next best thing!