The plant baker

18 April, 2008
John Foster, MD of Fosters Bakery
Page 24 
According to the food pundits, the snacking agenda for the year ahead is healthy eating. Well I have a problem with healthy eating; it's all so negative, so depressing - you can't eat this, you can't eat that. It's 'free-from' this and 'low in' that and definitely none of the other!
There is something about healthy food that makes you feel slightly cheated; it's as if the menu card has been written by a traffic warden; there's no good news - only grief. You know that it's not going to taste as good as 'real' food, even before the first bite.Let's turn the bakery healthy agenda into a host of positives; so, rather than claiming something is 'free from' or 'low in', can we say our food is 'full of' or 'high in'.The problem (going negative again) is that it's not that easy to come up with positive boasts about many baked goods. Even low-GI (Glycaemic Index) implies that we are getting less of something, when actually it's about food making you feel fuller for longer - you actually get more!If we could pull it off, we could change more people's perception of healthier foods for the better and get them to switch. We can promote the positive health in high-fibre and grain-enriched products; 'added oat bran' says positive health. What about high in Omega 3 or Omega 5, or food enriched with plant sterols?There's a well-known chocolate multi-national that has come up with positive proof that eating chocolate improves one's sense of happiness and wellbeing. It can back up, with medical studies, what Mrs Foster has known for years. Admittedly, you have to be careful about making a health claim, because the food traffic wardens are watching, but it needn't be that scientific. Many of our pastries have fresh fruit in them and we have just reduced the fat in our pastries by 10% and have not noticed a change in eating quality; we have made a cost-saving too. A 'more fruit, less fat' boast is slightly positive.Our bakery is part of the national salt level survey; the authorities purchase our products regularly and test for salt. This goes in the national statistics and is reported back to us, with the hope that we will reduce levels - which we have. Last harvest change, the flour wasn't taking up quite enough water and the salt levels in our bread went up; it's obvious - all other things equal in a recipe, lower water means higher salt. Is it possible to make food sound positively healthy rather than negatively healthy? Someone out there in Bakerland must have some good suggestions. You should write to British Baker with your ideas. Here's mine: 'Eating chocolate cream éclairs can promote short-term feelings of wellbeing'.Even joke spoof ones should be allowed, because laughing has been proven to make you live longer.* Fosters Bakery, based in Barnsley, south Yorkshire, supplies fresh and frozen products into major retailers, airlines and caterers



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