How wood got in our food, then out of it, then back into it again

By Tony Wagner
Northern Public Radio
November 2, 2017
Category: Froggy Foibles
Region: United States, US East

When you’re reporting on regulations, a simple question can turn existential pretty quick. …If I call something “bread,” does that make it bread? Typically, there are just four ingredients defining breadiness: flour, water, salt and yeast. But breadmakers have long added another ingredient to even the simplest loaves. Wood. Sawdust. Wood fiber. In fact, there’s been some kind of wood in all kinds of food, from at least the dawn of the industrial era, up to today. The story of edible (or less-than-edible) wood is the story of food regulation in a nutshell. Or maybe in a lumber yard. The story starts in the 1700s, along the banks of Europe’s rivers, among mills and breadmakers who were trying to solve a problem: How do you feed the poor, cheaply?

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