Like many families, we don’t bake our own bread. We make quick breads sometimes, like Raisin Bran Bread, but baking with yeast is not something that any of us finds soothing or fun or worth the time. We really appreciate the convenience of buying bread that’s already neatly sliced and ready to use!
The only trouble is that many of the breads sold in stores contain corn and/or soy, and most of these are not organic or labeled non-GMO, which means that they probably contain genetically modified organisms–92% of all corn and 94% of all soybeans grown in the United States in 2015 were GMO. We don’t trust GMOs to be safe for our health or the environment, so we’re trying to avoid them. It can be difficult.
Trader Joe’s store-brand products are GMO-free (except meat and dairy) so we’ve often bought bread there . . . but they don’t make any variety of whole-grain bread that all members of our family like! (They have a white bread we all like, but white is not as nutritious as whole-wheat.) We end up buying multiple varieties of Trader Joe’s bread to please everyone, and that’s confusing, and whoever runs out of acceptable bread first starts agitating to buy new bread while we still have the other kind. Furthermore, the nearest Trader Joe’s is several miles away, so we only shop there about once a month, but we use about a loaf and a half of bread per week.
Last time the kids and I went to Costco, we tried a free sample of Angelic Bakehouse Sprouted 7-Grain Bread. We all liked it! My 11-year-old Nicholas was begging me to buy it, but I figured it would turn out to contain some kind of crappy ingredients and/or to be really expensive. But the 3-loaf pack is just $7 ($2.33 per 16 slices, similar to Trader Joe’s or most whole-wheat supermarket breads) and it contains no GMOs, no corn syrup, no soybean oil, no weird chemicals, no refined sugar–just real food ingredients! The fiber, protein, and iron levels are just as good as most other whole-grain breads and better than some. It’s lower in sugar and sodium than a lot of breads, yet it tastes just as good.
The package says you should refrigerate after opening and freeze any bread you are not going to eat within six days. That’s the downside to not using preservatives. Still, six days is a decent amount of time for food to stay fresh, and we always keep our bread in the fridge anyway. Also–while I would never recommend that you disregard a manufacturer’s instructions–our three loaves lasted two weeks without being frozen and didn’t show any sign of spoilage. (If your bread gets stale, here are 4 things you can do with it!)
Why sprouted grains? Well, they’re supposed to be more nutritious and easier to digest. I don’t see a difference in the Nutrition Facts between this bread and most other whole-grain breads, as I said. I mainly bought this bread because it’s crap-free and tastes good!
What about packaging? Like nearly every bread you can buy in a store, a loaf of Angelic comes in a plastic bag. Like nearly every bread sold at Costco, it’s multi-packed inside a larger bag. Yes, that’s a lot of plastic. Yes, it is recyclable–but let me take this opportunity to remind everyone that most curbside recycling programs do not accept plastic bags, that you probably need to take plastic bags to a bin outside a store such as Target or Giant Eagle, and that it doesn’t matter how recyclable an item is if you don’t actually recycle it properly! Before you recycle, see if you can find another use or six for your bags: Put a bowl of leftovers inside a bag instead of covering it with cling-wrap. Use an old bread bag to carry a snack. Use it to hold vegetables or cheese that you’re freezing. Use the large outer bag to carry your muddy shoes. You could even save up a lot of plastic bags and make an awesome crocheted thing!
Buying bagged bread that’s been trucked from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania does have an environmental impact greater than baking my own bread at home. But realistically, I can’t do everything, and baking bread is one of the things I’ve decided not to do. I’m glad to have a new option in healthful, real-food sliced bread!
Costco is also a once-a-month shop for us, but it’s in the opposite direction from Trader Joe’s, so we tend to visit the two stores at different times. Being able to buy good bread at both stores might make it possible for us to avoid GMO bread completely.
If you’re having trouble finding GMO-free food, check out this directory!