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Bread & butter

In my big ranty palm oil post, I promised a palm oil free database, because deciphering all those labels and collating all that info together can be really tricky. I have spent the last few weeks battling with the back end programming, trying to turn all my ideas for a catch-all database into reality. Unfortunately I have not been quite as successful as I would have liked. The ability to search and categorise entries is beyond me, but I have now got a basic list together, with links to product types, so you at least don't have to search the whole page if you know what your looking for.

So far the only entries are for spreads and nut butters (in line with this post), bread, and butter. Every week or so, I'll tell you about palm oil free alternatives for a product category, and add that information to the database at the same time.

So, putting two & two together, you might have guessed that this weeks palm oil post is about bread and butter. Two pretty basic food items. Both very likely to contain palm oil. It is quite baffling, how two products, that have been part of the human diet for centuries, long before palm oil was a common ingredient, are now very difficult to buy without palm oil.

A selection of delicious sourdough from Sydney's Bourke Street Bakery.

A selection of delicious sourdough from Sydney's Bourke Street Bakery.

I have touched on the bread issue before, in my Easter post, so here's a summary; a basic bread recipe contains flour, water, yeast, sugar and salt, with oil/butter, milk and eggs optional extras. While some bakeries use palm oil as the 'oil' component, for most, a palm oil derivative sneaks in along with the dried yeast. For a long time, that meant that only traditionally made sourdough loaves (not yeasted sourdough) were palm oil free, and you had to harass your baker mercilessly for details on every ingredient.

Sourdough is still a good choice (and my preferred choice), but there are now a couple of supermarket options as well. All Abbott's Village Bakery loaves are palm oil free, as well as Country Life Gluten Free breads, and the Mountain Bread range of flat breads, all of which are pretty easy to find at the supermarket. As well as those options, Healthy Bake is an Australian owned bakery, producing organic, wheat free, palm oil free loaves (the buns aren't palm oil free though), with stockists across the country.

To be fair, 'proper' butter is palm oil free. The kind you buy in blocks, or sticks for baking, is nothing but cream, water and maybe salt. But most people don't use this as their everyday spreading-on-toast butter. Maybe you use Flora margarine, or a spreadable butter blend, or even Nuttelex. All of which contain palm oil. Thanks to its high saturated fat content, its very stable, but doesn't solidify quite as much as butter, so is often added to spreadable butters to make them soft 'straight from the fridge'. Even margarine, accompanied by claims it's made with golden canola, sunflower, or olive oils, has a high proportion of palm oil, again, thanks to it's stability and more solid nature (ever wondered how they turn a liquid like olive oil into a spread?).

However, it's not all bad news, there are a couple of 'table spread' (wtf does that even mean...??) and margarine options that are palm oil free; AlphaOne Rice Bran Oil spread, Woolworths Macro Soy Spread, and Melrose Omega Care spreads. And there's always the old-fashioned butter option, with the bonus of getting to use a cute butter dish like these ones! Certainly an option if you live somewhere it doesn't get too hot. But, living in Perth, for most of the year, we can't leave butter out of the fridge without ending up with a puddle, so we are fans of Mainland's Butter Soft. It is proper old fashioned butter, with only three ingredients, processed to be spreadable. It's a win-win really!

See my new database (link, or in the header bar) for a list of everything mentioned here, links to product websites, and details on where to find everything. Hope you like it, and if you have any products to add, please let me know!