Food rots. It's supposed to. That's the way it's been since the beginning of time. Humans have found ways of preserving food naturally--canning, freezing, dehydrating, smoking, cheesemaking, and brewing to name a few--but in the end, it's inevitable. Food rots.
Fresh foods and fresh prepared foods begin to break down considerably fast. Everyone can think of at least once or twice in the last year that they've reached for that tomato to find it in a less than stellar state or pulled out the container at the back of the fridge from last week's leftover dinner to find things growing on it.
I buy very few pre-prepared foods. Almost everything I make from scratch except for a few things like butter (though I have made this too in the past!), peanut butter (Whole Foods grinds nut butters on demand-yum!), cheese (hopefully I'll be able to make this soon too!) and a few grab and go snacks like Nature Valley's Crunchy Oat Bars (I have a hopeless addiction to these all natural delicious treats). But recently, I found myself purchasing a loaf of store bought bread for the first time in years.
At the end of the first week of March, I went out of town for nearly a week while my family remained at home. I made a few things for them to eat while I was gone but I knew the bread would soon be finished. Past experience has taught me that they will not remember to thaw a loaf of bread from the freezer and I thought to purchase a loaf of bread to tide them over until my return. I purchased a loaf of wheat bread at the grocer's and expected it to be rapidly consumed in my absence. After all, it was pre-sliced and would make it even easier for children in a hurry!
I was mistaken. I returned home to find the loaf only half consumed and I inquired about so much remaining. (Also, I was curious as to what they ate for lunch--turns out Rick gave them lunch money) Tristyn and Maia told me it 'tasted funny' and that they didn't like to eat bread from the store. I examined the bread to find it still soft and fresh and I broke off a piece to taste it. It tasted like ordinary store bough bread; relatively flat and dull in flavor but the flavor was still normal. I checked the date.
March 12. I had bought it several days before the expiration date and now it was several days past. The bread was in the exact same state that I left it in with no staleness or mold. I marveled at this for a moment but I was preoccupied with all the things one has to do after returning home from a week long trip and I hastily twisted it shut and stuffed it back in the cupboard.
A week later I remembered the bread and pulled it back out. Again, it was in the same state that I left it in. I was dumbfounded. Shouldn't bread 11 days past it's 'Best By' Date be stale? Have mold of some sort growing on it?
Homemade bread grows stale only a few days after making it. Depending on the type of bread and the moisture content it begins to grow bread mold after several days no matter how well it's wrapped. This store bought bread wasn't even tied shut! I had only twisted the neck of the bread and tucked it under the loaf without securing it with a twist tie.
Some people might be impressed with the 'staying power' of store bought bread but I was disturbed. Deeply disturbed. What on earth was in this bread that making it stay in this suspended state?
wheat flour, ferrous sulfate (iron), thiamine mononitrate (vitamin b-1), riboflavin (vitamin b2), folic acid, water, wheat gluten, high fructose corn syrup, oat fiber, whole wheat, rye meal, wheat bran, soy flour, yeast, salt, vinegar, caramel color, calcium propanoate, ammonium sulfate, enzyme active soy flour, xanthan gum, calcium sulfate, ascorbic acid, datem, soybean oil, enzymes, and soy lecithin.
All sorts of things in there! I think instead of 'store bought bread' it should henceforth be referred to as 'chemical bread.'
It's been an additional 12 days since I pulled that loaf of bread out of the cupboard.
It's still in 'great shape!' I've decided to see how long it takes before it grows stale and/or grows mold. To remind you, it's now 23 days past it's 'use by' date and 28 days since I bought it.
In case you are wondering,
My whole wheat bread has the following ingredients:
wheat flour, honey, salt, yeast, butter, and milk.
Bet you know what all those things are! And if you are wondering what some of those other ingredients in the chemical bread are, here's a few things I've found out but please keep in mind this is after very brief, loose, research and I encourage you to do your own: