In fact, nutritionist Bridgette Collado advises consumers not to assume that a dark brown bread is a whole-wheat bread or that a loaf labeled “multigrain” means the bread is whole-grain. Companies, she says, “put food additives all the time in bread to make it look like wheat or whole-grain bread and it’s not,” says Collado, a North Carolina-based registered dietician and health consultant formerly with Northeastern University.
Her advice: “Look at the ingredients label to see either that the bread has 100 percent whole-wheat flour or 100 percent whole-grain wheat.” She recommends checking the choosemyplate.gov website, which gives US Department of Agriculture recommendations.
Purists who eat white bread can buy artisan loaves made solely from natural ingredients at area bakeries, but at a cost exceeding supermarket prices. Clear Flour sells an unsliced 2-pound pain de mie (sandwich loaf) for $7.95, $3.60 for half a loaf. Japonaise (Boston, Brookline, and Cambridge) sells two varieties of sliced white bread with eight slices per loaf: Shoku Pan (made with milk) for $3.50 and something they call Heavy Cream for $4.25.
Faber says demand for pain de mie increases each year. Hiroko Saken, the owner of Japonaise, says fewer customers are buying her Japanese-style white bread. “We used to make 200 to 300 loaves a day. Nowadays, we make 100,” she says, noting a slight increase in sales from last year, but not certain that reflects a trend.
The future of store-bought white bread is up in the air. “Although industrial white bread still has its defenders, who choose it for special uses, companies making industrial white bread have been battered in recent years,” says the author Bobrow-Strain. “It’s hard to say whether industrial white bread will disappear altogether, but I’m pretty sure the impulse to industrialize bread production of all kinds will continue.”
He says artisan loaves are already being mass-produced in Europe. Robots designed to mimic the delicate fingers of a village baker make them.
Peggy Hernandez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.