How The U.S. Ruined Bread

Why Bread in the US is So Bad
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I wanted to know why the bread in Europe tastes so much better than the bread in America, so I went to Paris to find out.

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A big thanks to Peter Reinhart for sharing his bread expertise with us for this video.
You can read his new book “Pizza Quest: My Never-Ending Search for the Perfect Pizza” –
And learn more about Peter in this NPR interview –

Go read The Omnivore’s Dilemma for more context on American industrialized food system:

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Johnny Harris is a filmmaker and journalist. He currently is based in Washington, DC, reporting on interesting trends and stories domestically and around the globe. Johnny’s visual style blends motion graphics with cinematic videography to create content that explains complex issues in relatable ways. He holds a BA in international relations from Brigham Young University and an MA in international peace and conflict resolution from American University.

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  • In my country we ate fresh bread for breakfast every morning and is sad when I moved to US and have to eat the worse bread I have taste in life ✋

    Pete’s krab 🦀 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • In my opinion killer of normal bread is zoning. As European, I may be wrong, but as I know, American cities have restrictions to open grocery store in living zone. Is the reason why you can't go to the bakery near your house coming from work. As baker, you just can't make normal bread, that stale in three days, when your clients can't come to bakery every 1-2 days. I live hear big food market and can buy fresh farmer food for every day, and it didn't cost like a space flight. It's more than in grocery store (that in 500 meters from me), but it's much more delicious. We are just didn't need to store a lot of food at home, we didn't need to have so much preservatives. Eating a varied diet is harder if you don't have a grocery store near your house.

    Yana K 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • You are right…. the hole thing. Instead of one: Not only in america this is happend, in europe also. In europe, there seems to be that great old "Brot-Kultur", but the usual bakerie is exstinct… and the great supermarkets are baking mostly frozen readymades. Or even not baking at al in their rooms.
    To take France (or here Paris) as an example, is further on a bit biased region. Even if their baking-tradition and meaning of it is until today great. If you go in their supermarkets, you also find that garbage-bread…. en mass.
    I live in berlin (Germany) and in a district that was back then a french sector (of alied occupying forces) and that had an influence on the regional bakery-culture…espacialy on these in the metro-bakerys. But that, because the occupying forces are gone, is history. Today, there is no good bread or pastries. Even in real bakeries, where they do not bake fresh, only at most frozen readymades or even no real baking in their rooms.

    There is a interesting secret about french bake-culture and their freshness: One king back then has forbidden night baking, so the bakerys had to bake on day. That makes fresher bread and it maybe has made that classical Buagette, because…. it is smaler and slender, so they get more of it in the oven and its baked faster. If you cannot make bread in the night, you must have a solution for the day, when the needs of bread are big, so that the bakeries are running out of fresh bread fast. The Buagette is such a solutuion, that is made fast and efficient in an usual oven.

    So the solution is very clear viewable: forbid nightly baking. And you would get fresher bread….? Maybe not, because the baking-culture is broken with that irrational ingrediens and the great industrie-bakeries would not exstinct at all, only to that.

    But one thing may would be solved: If the weather is bad (and moist) you would get no crunchy bread, because of the moist in the air. If they would bake it fresh (because of day-baking), then it would compensate that a bit.

    cgfreeandeasy 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • Apart from the huge range and vast number of different chemicals in the US flour – the worst bit is – LEGALLY in ALL FLOUR IN THE US – TWO PIECES OF RAT SHIT IS PERMISSIBLE IN EACH SACK. No where else in the developed world is this allowed – fuck small wonder all the flour products taste like shit – it is shit.

    Car Phone 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • Literally was gonna comment "oh this montage of bread history is very Bill Wurtz inspired" and then we got the direct reference

    Rhinocio 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • Johnny Harris is an Anprim

    Canter1Ter 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • Just like American "cheese" & all the other cheese or cheese flavored substance you find at American grocery stores. Granted some stores have imported but rather expensive cheese. You can't import bread thanks to it's shelf life however you can only try making it yourself if you're lucky enough to buy unadulterated flour or mill your own or find a traditional bakery. I'm rather sad that of all the classes American schools forced on me I only had one in middle school that barely involved cooking with processed food & nothing from scratch or complexity. Granted due to time & funding & safety constraints teaching hundreds to thousands of kids especially before high school might seem an impossible goal. It is however the sad state we are in of mass fast food consumption including heat & eat grocer meals & obesity epidemic that is partially owed to many who never learned how to make anything from scratch and more complex than boil, simmer, fry, bake or microwave. Heck most of us don't know how to make apple pie properly and granted that's not actually an American recipe but still.

    Diesel Techie 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • hevad 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • I am pretty sure, that there is a primal need for fresh baked bread in all of us! 😉

    Mike Tayon 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • Wait… Does US really only has 3000 bakeries? Thats absurd.
    I'm not from Europe, I'm from Brazil, and here there are bakeries everywhere too

    Catoflado 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • the amount of logical fallacies that i have seen in this video alone is almost insulting, its so heavily emotionally charged that its hard to take it seriously but at least you admitted you're just using it as a reason to dunk on America, for reference while America has less bakeries they are usually focused on higher income areas as freshly baked bread is insanely expensive here, it can't be shipped over long distances which is necessary on such a large land mass and on top of all that most American's can barely afford to live in a home never mind buy fresh made bread from a bakery

    RiverRoulette 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • American Bread, a "bread product"
    American Cheese, a "cheese product"
    Can America make an anything without it being less than 50% the real thing?

    Philip, Duke of Parma 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • Dude that is not bread, that is edible pillow, and i would argue its not even edible XD

    Kraya 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • You had me with the music, I was just thinking "oh what the hell, this shit again?"

    reezlaw 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • When I lived for a few months in the US my biggest issues with "regular food" was the bread but also the cheese. Those pre sliced square oily things they call cheese…. WTF is that?! Because it sure as hell isn't cheese! They even dare to call some of those things "cheddar". Looking at the ingredients it seems more like a failed science experiment. Also they have "cheese" in a can… enough said…

    What you said in a comment about not many americans have access to a corner shop/bakery makes sense, however in Sweden we don't have bakeries spread out like in France either and most of us don't have easy access to just run out and get fresh bread in a few minutes, but we still can get good proper bread. In my area there is an actual bakery right next to the big grocery store I do my weekly shopping, and even the grocery store itself has a bakery within where they make fresh bread daily, their selection is of course not as good as the bakerys but they do make the popular ones like f ex the French baguette. So weekly shoppers can still buy proper bread and freeze it to last the entire week. Fresh bread from the freezer is not as tasty as getting that fresh still warm bread directly from the bakery, but it's still proper bread without all of the crap inside like the industrial ones, and it tastes better.
    This shouldn't be hard for behemoths like Walmart to implement. And they certainly would if there was a profit in it. But since most americans don't even know what bread should taste and be like (or cheese) there isn't a demand for it.

    Antioch 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • Also, before I lost my home and most of my possessions, I, too made my own bread. I usually used just high-gluten wheat flour, water, yeast, and salt. Depending upon what type of bread I wanted I would use other grain flours, different seeds, sugar, honey or molasses, milk, spices and/or herbs and some type of fat. My favorite is/was a multi-grain rosemary bread.

    Stanly Girl 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • I read or heard, fairly recently, that in Ireland, US-style bread is legally not considered bread because of the high sugar content. Is this true? Is it considered cake? Has anyone else heard of or about this?

    Stanly Girl 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • American bread is quite simply garbage. I make my own from very basic ingredients because I don’t want to put crap in my body. Make it yourself and find out what good bread is!

    GodzillaGoesGaga 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • European cities have more bakeries because we have more neigbourhood commerce. Many european bakeries sell industrial frozen pre-made dough bread baked in their shop.

    Marc Hernández 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • Not so long ago, natural, non GMO & chemical added bread was packed with nutrients so it was a fantastic healthy staple. Now it's all about bureaucrats and profits

    a2z 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • Your numbers are skewed. The Us has twice the number of bakeries as France, to the tune of $154 Billion US dollars per year. They're just not "Independent" bakeries. People in France tend to grocery shop on a shop day-to-day basis instead of a weekly or monthly basis like most Americans do. You're from the US, you really don't know any of this???

    BEATING-U 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • Is it just me or are there any other europeans here that think baguete is shaite?
    If I eat that white cotton crap, my bowel bloats like a balloon.
    Give me some whole wheat or mixed flour rustic bread and take that crap away from me LMAO

    Truthismycause 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • Grains in general are high in sugars. So, high in carbohydrates, very low nutritional values.

    Luis Felix 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • Wheat & or spelt, grind it fine as you want, teaspoon of salt, add some yeast, water, maybe shortening or olive oil. You get bread. But try to buy unground wheat in USA? You might have to travel to Kansas. Become a bread Nerd it is gratifying, it has a short learning curve to minor successes. Real twitches buy their own electric grain mill with granite wheeled mill as a kitchen device. Onion bread is my favorite but the list of possible ingredients is pretty long. 10" (25cm) Silicone bread forms are the best thing since sliced bread (you never need to wash them, they never rust or shatter). Your apartment needs airing after you bake.

    Joel McCoy 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • I hear you. Let us not forget 1000 years a go, the stone ground wheat added sand to the bread. The flower, with sand in it, ground down people's teeth… FYI, I have sour dough starter in my fridgerator right now. Yes, I purchased the 1st starter on Amazon a very long time ago… I choose my battles to the best of my ability. Great video! The middle ground has many advantages.

    TheDWZemke 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • Bread is bad for the human body..

    Luis Felix 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • It doesn't taste like heaven honestly… and I feel the Finnish bread has a very similar issue.

    0Tidus0989 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • That's nasty. They put in there the "stuff" also to make the pharmaceutical industry to earn their part of the money at the end of the cycle.

    Saigon6 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • This is so sad. There is nothing better than eating fresh bread in the morning. The fact that some of Americans never had a real fresh baked bread in their lives… I feel bad for them.

    I also was raised to respect bread so the fact that you threw bread in the trash (even if american bread is a bakery insult made with no love) made me upset.
    Waste of food is stil waste of food.

    rubby draco 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • I guess the title is contradicted in the end of this video. In the US they make better bread in urban areas. Paris is also an urban area so it would have been better to show small villages where you can buy good bread in good quality in France. But in the end I guess it is a matter of priority. Good food is not a top priority in the States. Quantity is. It is the same with many other products.

    MR READ ENG COM 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • Did I just sit trough a 16 minute video on normal speed about bread? Yes.
    Did I go to bed at 4:30 this morning? Yes.

    Jesper Prša 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • My bread is liquid. It is called beer. The USA is good at it too.

    John 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • What a hipster snob. LOL. Enjoy your bread at your outdoor cafe sitting next to people who are smoking unfiltered cigarettes. But seriously, I lived in Europe and he is right, mostly. But I have been in France and I think many French people might disagree with this and say yes that is how it used to be this slow cafe culture, but many Parisians actually DO shop at supermarkets (they are called hypermerches, I think) and they like them and many DO eat on the run and they eat in a more American way. Btw I think McDonalds is doing fine there.

    John 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • As someone who's lived outside of the US for a quarter century now, mostly in Asia but some in Europe as well, and every time I go "home" to the states for a visit I find the bread to be horrible. Currently, I live in China and unfortunately, they are looking to the US for guidance in the bread department and that is disturbing. Luckily for me, there are a lot of Europeans living in my area so there are European bakeries here too. Bread is not a big thing in Asian countries but it does exist in some forms and luckily it is mostly homemade and also available to me when I am not making my own. I grew up in the States but my Mom never inflicted Wonder Bread on us thankfully. I had it at friend's homes and just thought wow, this ain't normal even when I was 10 years old

    Bob Chinabob 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • Been to Paris, even hung out and had dinner with my director who was from France, and NO ONE suggested I get some bread. The Europeans I asked said to go to Castle Neuschwanstein, and get a Belgian Waffle from Belgium.

    Sean 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • As a kid in the UK (London) my Mum would go shopping every couple of days. She would go to the bakery, butcher and market stalls for veg and fruit then walk back with bags. Bread didn't need to last that long.
    Now most people go to huge supermarkets once a week in a car so bread needs to last a longer.
    I tell my kids grapes only lasted a few days when I was a child. Now they last a week plus. Not sure how they manage this but it definitely is a thing that's changed.

    K B 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • US is weird

    OW_Lars 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • Publix makes the best bread, every day. I recommend it for southern USA folks

    Brit Powers 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • If you wanna make a video about biking in cities, and bike friendly cities, you ought to make a video about Copengahen or Amsterdam. It's no big secret that these cities are great for people who wanna commute by bike, but why do be poeple do it? What made these cities plan around biking?

    orhblin 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • peoblem is the US not ideal for having small bakeries (and you need them to have good bread, it needs local production, short shelf time, small production, you need allow it to raise over long time.)

    You need small, ideal family operations that serve a neighbourhood, big buisness will not cut it.

    That means shopping two or three times per week for baked goods, the most good bread keeps for a week.

    If you talk french breads it is good for two days max, it is not designed to keep long, it is designed to be made an consumed, it is artisan product.

    So you need an urban and village structure that is very traditional with an town or village center with shopping areas that are small shops,. bakery, butcher, very small supermarket at max, plus the infrastrure that delivers the right flour and so on.

    And the people who know how to make it and who are more artisan and less buiseness inclined, wich brings up the problem with how to pay your health insurance, because you can earn a lot of money or make good bread..

    Pounce Pounce 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • I was worried this was gonna be some weird hot take on America somehow being bad because only certain types of bread are "valid," or whatever… but then it was about sandwich bread, and the lack of small shops and bakeries in many communities. And so i could relax. Cuz yeah. It can be infuriating in some communities, when theres just no easy way to acquire fresh bread without making it from scratch.

    ultimateninjaboi 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • But the baguette they sell in supermarkets such as Wholefoods is low quality. Why is bread made in other places superior?

    Toxic Participant 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • Anyone else get a Pillsbury ad?

    Hoskins' Films 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • the fact that you think yeast is a “bacteria” shows how little you understand about bread

    ng mui 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • bread is only ONE of the oldest prepared foods. to say its THE oldest needs proof that you probably cant give

    ng mui 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • We call american bread toast.

    le vin 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • While watching this, I was having a light easy dinner. I hadn't planned it but I had some good Danish rye bread, healthier than most other types of bread, an acquired taste, but most Danes wouldn't live without it, it is usually the thing a Dane craves while being abroad.

    What toppings happened to go with my bread, you might ask? Some delicious French brie. Cheese another product that the Americans seem to have a completely different take on than us Europeans.

    Søren Hougaard Rasmussen 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • everything*

    lance♡ 18/10/2022 am10:23
  • Someone should tell this guy we have bakeries in the US. Actually bakeries can sometimes be found in the grocery store. How convenient!

    Scott Edward 18/10/2022 am10:23