Bread: it seems to be everywhere we look. We turn on the TV, and we see ads for slabs of processed meat housed between bread — and even the meat itself is breaded! Pizza crust is essentially bread, we serve our soup with bread, and breadsticks are all the rage.
Even so-called healthy restaurant chains feature sandwiches made with whole wheat bread — marketing it as the smart and nutritionally-conscious choice. It seems we just can’t get enough.
What’s the reason for this bread fascination? Short answer: Full-blown carbohydrate cravings have swept our nation, and every food manufacturer within earshot is answering the call.
Of course, there is such a thing as healthy bread, but that’s not usually what we’re after — as bread made with real, wheat-free ingredients doesn’t quite satisfy the craving for many people. Americans love ready-made, processed bread, made with that oh-so-ubiquitous grain: wheat.
The latest example of bread idolatry? The media has recently been abuzz with excitement over Olive Garden’s soon-to-be-released Breadstick Sandwiches. These will be offered in chicken parmesan and meatball varieties starting on June 1st. While they will be a lunch menu item, reports state that they can be requested for dinner as well.
The kicker? The Breadstick Sandwich can be ordered as part of a lunch combination that includes unlimited breadsticks. Can we say bread overload?
According to Jim Nuetzi, executive chef at Olive Garden in Times Square, where the new sandwiches were sampled for some members of the media, Olive Garden’s plan is to, “develop familiar flavors and package it differently… So [customers] have something new but it’s recognizable enough to get their cravings fulfilled.”
Nuetzi added, “My focus is repurposing, because that’s what customers want.”
The problem with this mindset is the focus on fulfilling cravings, rather than eating to nourish our bodies and making them healthy and strong. This is more reminiscent of addiction, and less of actual eating in the traditional sense. As we have previously reported, wheat is a highly addictive — and actually quite terrible for our health.
On top of the wheat issue, Olive Garden’s new sandwiches will likely be made with a host of additives, oils containing trans fats, and spices containing artificial flavorings and MSG. We’re not singling out Olive Garden either — many processed food franchises specialize in cheap and potentially hazardous ingredients, all in the name of craving satiation.
We don’t think about supporting the health of our bodies when we eat to satisfy our cravings. The problem is, each of us only gets one body! If we don’t take care of it now, we’re likely in for a world of pain when illness sets in, from years of eating refined flour and cheap additives.
If we are to be healthy, we need to re-engineer the way we think about food. We need to get our minds out of the bread basket, and embrace real, whole, nutritious foods. We need to rediscover the joy and satisfaction of cooking, and forget the instant gratification of picking up a ready-made, processed product.
While real food may not seem as comforting at first — because of cultural conditioning and ingredients designed to be addictive — it will support our health. And if we want to get the most out of our lives, our health should be top priority.
-The Alternative Daily