July 23, 2012
July 26, 2012

Think about it. The last 10 times you went out to eat, were you presented with an overflowing, complimentary bread basket? Most times, probably not.

Small restaurants don’t have the room and can’t afford the bread waste.  It appears that the death knell rung for the traditional bread basket.  It’s a culinary shift for sure, especially since free starch has been a pre-dinner tradition in American restaurants for a long time.

In the 1970s, there was the cracker basket, cellophane-wrapped circles and squares; the 1980s brought the pillowy sliced baguette with icy, foil-wrapped butter pats; in the 1990s, the bread affected an Italian accent, accompanied by a shallow bowl of olive oil, sometimes flecked with herbs; and then, in the 2000s, the bread got better, and butter muscled back onto the scene.

But in the 2010s? The bread is largely MIA.

Many restaurants that are offering bread are charging for it.  Many feel that bread is a filler.  It sits in your stomach so you’re not as hungry. When you’re hungry, you taste everything; if you’re not really hungry, you’re not really experiencing the flavors of the food.

Bread has been on the decline for 20 years. The reason for that summarized into one word:  “Calories”.

People are more aware of how many calories they are putting in their body. 

Some restaurants have adopted an “ask and it shall be yours” approach, as with glasses of water during drought times. Why waste bread if people don’t want it? But for many restaurants, forgoing free bread may be an essential part of a cost-cutting strategy.

During the recession, restaurants were challenged with rising operating costs and declining consumer spending, which put a squeeze on their already slim profit margins (a typical restaurant runs a 3 to 5 percent profit margin)according to the National Restaurant Association. It’s possible some restaurants modified offerings by eliminating or charging for bread baskets as a result. 

There’s a growing body of evidence that a low-glycemic diet (read: low carb) is healthier and that eschewing highly processed carbohydrates aids in weight management. A study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association makes the strongest case yet for re-examining the role of carbs in the food that we eat.

At the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center of Boston Children’s Hospital, three groups were put on diets to lose 10 to 15 percent of their body weight. Once the goal was achieved, they were put on a standard low-fat diet (20 percent of calories from protein, 20 percent from fat and 60 percent from carbohydrates, with lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains), an ultra-low-carb diet (10 percent of calories from carbs, 60 percent from fat and 30 percent from protein) or a low-glycemic diet (40 percent fat, 20 percent protein, 40 percent carbs made up of minimally processed grains, fruit, vegetables and legumes).

Those on the ultra-low-carb diet burned 350 calories more per day than those on the standard low-fat diet. And those on the low-glycemic diet burned 150 calories more. This flies in the face of decades of nutritional advice that asserted a low-fat diet is the way to stay lean.

Source:, 7.17.12

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