GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The Swiss Federal Health Office in November 2011 released a report on Swiss sodium (salt) consumption, suggesting that Swiss consumers should reduce their intake by half. A study done by the Bern University of Applied Sciences, as part of the government’s continuing programme to find ways to reduce salt in processed foods, has shown that this can be done while maintaining quality.
Their work is part of Switzerland’s Salt Strategy 2008-2012, which calls for average salt intake to be reduced by up to 16 percent (4 percent a year over the four years) to 8 g per day by the end of this year. The long-term goal is for a maximum intake of 5 g per day, in line with WHO (World Health Organization) recommendations.
In November, Bern noted that “processed foods such as bread, cheese, sausage and other meat products, soups and ready meals are major hidden sources of salt. Efforts are therefore being made, in close collaboration with the food industry and researchers, to investigate how salt levels in processed foods and in the catering sector can be reduced over the longer term without adversely affecting taste.”
The Bern study, run at the School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences in Zollikofen, has shown that processed foods account for about 34 percent of salt intake and bread and pasta for 21 percent.
Swissinfo 26 January 2012 carries a good background story on Switzerland’s use of salt in food and how it is changing.
Swiss food news
Zurich, Switzerland (GenevaLunch.com) – Switzerland’s largest supermarket chain, Migros, will increase by one-third its purchases of Swiss Integrated Production grains for bread at the 2011 harvest, significantly increasing its use of near-organic grains. Integrated Production (IP, or PI in French) is a label that covers a set of very high standards followed by about 20,000 of Switzerland’s 60,000 farmers for part or all of their production. It is not as strict in terms of chemical use as organic farming, but farmers commit themselves to working closely with nature and to encouraging biodiversity by helping flora and fauna thrive.
Migros will increase its IP grains by 90,000 tons, using these for bread and bakery products made by its bakery arm, Jowa, and for flour sold in its food outlets. The decision should give a boost to the label TerreSuisse, jointly created by IP-Suisse, Migros and the Swiss Ornithological Institute in Sembach.
TerreSuisse farmers, notes Migros, use no fungicides or insecticides, and they make a concerted effort to create spaces that encourage biodiversity: ponds for wild plants and wildlife, empty stretches in the middle of fields to encourage the threatened skylark to nest there, as well as hares, and fallow fields that encourage insects and cornflowers to flourish. They often heap stones into mounds that serve as shelters for lizards.
Recipe for high-protein bread using red winter wheat
What is red winter wheat?
Red winter wheat is a high-protein wheat, known in French as blé rouge d’hiver. It is a hard wheat with qualities similar to durum wheat, which we find in Italy.
Winter wheat differs from other wheat in that it is planted in the autumn, goes dormant during the coldest winter months, then resumes growth as the weather warms up. It is harvested in spring or early summer.
According to the The Fresh Loaf, hard white wheat of the type we find in France, which is slightly yellowish and not pristine white, was “actually developed from hard red wheat, by eliminating the genes for bran color while preserving other desirable characteristics of red wheat,” such as its high protein content. The Fresh Loaf site contains loads of photos comparing the color of the grains as well the baked product.
This wheat is not grown extensively in Europe, but the actual grains can be found in a good health food store or a supermarket that carries a wide range of natural grains. Large Manor supermarkets in Switzerland often stock it. Of course, to use the grains in a bread recipe, you need to own a flour mill, which many home bakers do.
The Fresh Loaf
For those who love to bake bread, I don’t know of a better site than The Fresh Loaf. It refers to itself as the “amateur baker and artisan bread enthusiast site,” and you are likely to find absolutely any recipe you need there. If not there’s a lively forum that allows you to ask fellow bakers. Much of the bread is the hearty, healthy type you can really sink your teeth in to.
Market Day 6 May 2009 photo album, with 27 images from Geneva’s Boulevard Helvétique market.
It was a day for spring flowers, wild garlic, baby turnips, fountain watercress, April Cross radishes, watermelon from Spain and wonderful rye bread. Take a visual tour!