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Our Daily Bread

Rebecca Ordish explores what’s gone wrong with this one time staple and how we’re learning to love it all over again 

What type of bread would you like for your sandwich? We have white, brown, whole meal, wholegrain, whole wheat, sour dough, Turkish, flatbread, roti, wheat germ, linseed or rye bread.”

It used to be such a simple question - white or brown bread? Now there are so many options, so many different types of bread and so many stories, questions and theories on what type of bread to avoid, which to eat more of and, in fact, whether we should eat bread at all, sometimes it is easier just to avoid it. Here we’ll help you to navigate some of the confusion so you can get back to enjoying this staple of our diets once more. 

Let’s start at the very beginning . . .

Bread is one of the oldest prepared foods that has been enjoyed around the family dinner table for hundreds of years. But its significance goes a lot deeper than simple taste and nutrition with both religious and cultural values attached to it. Christians remember it in the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.” We use it to refer to food generally as in “to put bread on the table”, and “the breadwinner” refers to the household’s main economic contributor. We even judge progress referring to major developments as “the greatest thing since sliced bread”. 

Bread is part of who we are. So what changed?

The major advance that changed the way bread was made was the development of the Chorleywood bread process in 1961. This machine allowed for intense mechanical working of the bread dough. This dramatically reduced the time taken to produce a loaf of bread because the fermentation period was condensed.

It was a great win for manufacturers and in some ways for consumers as well as it allowed for quick, low cost bread to get to consumers. 

So why did things change? Well, this process basically steals one of the core secrets of great tasting bread - time. Fermentation is the almost magic process that allows the raw dough to rise into a beautiful fluffy loaf of bread. It also contributes to the incredible flavours and that gorgeous smell. Yeast, the core ingredient that drives the fermentation process, needs time to do its work, consuming sugar and excreting carbon dioxide to really make great, tasty bread. Have you seen the old bakers kneading the bread over and over?

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Nova View:
Be inspired by those making a commitment

One of my most bittersweet memories of past travels is arriving in Colombo on Boxing Day 2005, exactly one year after the devastating tsunami that took so many lives in Sri Lanka and other countries with Indian Ocean coastlines. 

It was early evening and the verandah of the wonderful old Galle Face Hotel situated on the sea wall was covered with flickering coconut oil lamps, a simple but beautiful tribute.

We had made a conscious choice to arrive on this day and it set the tone for a travel experience that has moved me more than any other. 

The stretch of coastline between Colombo and Galle further south is simply breathtaking but it could never be the same again for all those fishing families and coastal communities that had seen this huge surge of water bearing down on them.

One woman tending a turtle recovery sanctuary (wildlife were victims too) couldn’t bear to look out to sea yet her work kept her daily at the water’s edge. I wrote about it at the time if you’d like to take a look: Island of Dharma 

So when an opportunity came my way this month to write about a Sri Lankan enterprise that is a genuine world leader I leapt at it.

Latex Green is a small rubber producer that has taken on the giants of the world industry and led the way to making this notorious polluter clean and green, so much so that it is now the world’s first certified organic latex producer.

When people in a developing country just emerging from the trauma of a civil war, not to mention the tsunami, can make this sort of commitment surely it’s time for some stocktaking of our own.

Read about what they’ve achieved in “Green Rubber”.

Another country high in our consciousness at present is Kashmir where floodwaters have caused catastrophic damage to people’s homes, most of which are made of mud bricks which can’t withstand the onslaught...

Margaret EvansRead the Nova View
by Nova Editor
Margaret Evans

Margaret Evans
NOVA Editor
November 2014

A Good Night's Sleep

Foundatino of HealthGetting enough sleep doesn’t rank highly as a health tip in our faced-paced lives.  But, says Peter Dingle PhD, it’s vitally important 

Sleep is as important to the human body as food and water, but most of us still don’t get enough sleep. We obtain treatment for illness or injury yet we generally fail to seek help when we aren’t getting enough sleep.

The average length of sleep has declined from around nine hours 100 years ago to seven hours today. And the depth of sleep has also declined.

Sleep is complicated because many different factors influence the effectiveness of sleep. It’s not just duration that determines the effectiveness of said sleep, but factors such as quality, frame of mind and deepness all contribute to the maximum desired outcome and even our perception of how we sleep. Many factors can play a part in the quality and quantity of our sleep and an understanding of this is essential to maximise our sleep time.      

On average, a healthy person will spend around one third of their life sleeping (1). Sleep is considered a natural periodic state of rest for the mind and body, in which the eyes will usually close and consciousness is completely or partially lost resulting in a decrease in bodily movements and responsiveness to external stimuli (2).

Inadequate length of good quality sleep leads to a disruption to vital biological processes resulting in a decrease in cognitive function, and mental and physical health (3). This includes impaired productivity and work performance due to a decrease in attention, judgment and responsible decision-making (4).  

Insomnia and CVD 

Insufficient or disrupted sleep contributes to adverse health effects. Numerous studies have also shown that even a little bit of sleep deprivation decreases efficiency and increases risk of disease, including cardiovascular disease. 

Some of the physical effects found from long term fatigue are heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal disorders, depression, eating disorders and weight gain. Sleep deprivation has been shown to negatively affect endocrine (hormones) and metabolic functioning, as well as nervous system balance (5). During truncated sleep, your heart might have to work harder, constricting blood vessels and increasing blood pressure even more, which could conceivably result in a heart attack or stroke (6)...

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