Is 16 cents a loaf worth filling our bread with cancer causing oil?

Most of our kids like a bread roll to munch on at school.  The trouble is, it’s slightly easier to find discarded money in the average supermarket than it is to find bread or bread rolls made without ‘Vegetable Oils’.  It’s perfectly possible to make bread using Olive Oil or even (gasp – don’t even think it) animal fat.  But nobody does.

When you decide you no longer wish to consume ‘Vegetable Oils’, bread presents a bit of a problem.  Almost all breads sold in Australian supermarkets are made with canola oil, sunflower oil or soybean oil (or sometimes all three).  And that even includes the ones in the Fresh Bakery bit of most of them.

So the cheap options are out straight away.  But even before you reconcile yourself to going top shelf at the bakery you won’t find an abundance of options.  Sure, you can get the fancy European bread range at Baker’s Delight (which doesn’t use any kind of fat).  But if you’re buying for 6 kids, that gets really expensive, really fast.  If you want ordinary old white bread there, at Brumby’s or at most bakeries, you’ll find ‘Vegetable Oils’ are the fat du jour.

As a result we had reconciled ourselves to buying outrageously expensive bread (we make our loaf bread at home) for the foreseeable future, until one day we had a bright idea.  Why not just ask the local bakery if they could do a batch of bread rolls and use olive oil instead.  To our complete and utter amazement, the Brumby’s we asked agreed to do it as long as we gave them a day’s notice and ordered at least 30.  Figuring 30 was about a week’s worth and they probably freeze well, we immediately ordered a batch.

They were manna from heaven.  Normal hamburger rolls that tasted exactly the way they should but without toxic oils. They froze perfectly and, if anything were better after being thawed than before.  Our problems were solved – until we went to pick up our next batch.  Brumby’s had decided in the interim that it was too much hassle to do a separate batch and point blank refused to do it again.  Bugger.

Plan B was to approach Baker’s Delight and they were delightful indeed.  Not only are they happy to do it, they’ll do it in whatever quantity we want as long as we give a day’s notice.  Now we pick up our 30 hamburger rolls every Sunday and not a single canola flower was harmed in their manufacture.  They cost exactly the same as the bog standard toxic variety but ours come with olive oil instead.

Now you might think I’m getting my undies in a twist over nothing.  The average bread contains something less than 1g of omega-6 fat per 100g if it’s made with canola oil.   But omega-6 fat consumption is an insidious thing and the effect is cumulative.  It’s in everything and frankly there are some times when you can’t avoid it.  So my theory is that if you can avoid it, even in the smallest way, they you should definitely take that option.

If you agree, then all you need to do is ask, you might be surprised at the answer.

All this does of course cause me to wonder why Bakers don’t just use Olive Oil all the time.  Not even the most rabid supporter of vegetable oil, the National Heart Foundation has any problem with us consuming the old olive juice, so it can’t be for health reasons (not that I’ve ever seen a bakery make a health claim about the oil it uses anyway).  So that just leaves cost.

According to my local catering supply shop, I can get a 20 Litre tin of Canola oil for $45.95, but that much dosh will only buy be 4 Litres of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming that’s what they’ll be using).

I can see that an ingredient costing 5 times as much might give pause for thought, but only if it were being used in significant quantities.  A loaf of bread weighing 700 grams will contain about 15 grams (16 mls) of fat.  If that fat is canola oil it will cost 4c.  If it’s Olive Oil, it will cost 20c.  Yes it’s more, but in the almost $4 price of a loaf of bread at the local bakery, it really is irrelevant.  And if it is likely to break the bank, then, what the heck, add 16c to the price of the loaf for me.

Are we really being sold bread full of vegetable oil for the sake of 16c a loaf in oil?  And the trade off for that is bread that (in combination with the rest of the processed food we eat) significantly increases our risk of cancer, macular degeneration, rheumatoid arthritis and life-threatening allergies.  Come on bakeries of Australia, surely that’s not worth the 16c.  Put the Olive Oil back in our bread.

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Join the discussion 19 Comments

  • Martin says:

    Thanks David. Nice to know about Bakers Delight’s openness to do that. Then again, there’s olive oil and there’s olive oil You’d hope they would use Extra Virgin but I’m guessing cost would steer them towards refined olive oil. Still, its better than the other options.

  • Leanne says:

    I’m wondering if, in the process of baking the bread, the olive oil is made rancid (thus unfit for consumption) by heating? Do you think saturated fats might be the better choice for baking? I know it’s going to take a long time for society to recognise that saturated fat is not the enemy so I’m guessing places like Bakers Delight won’t be including it in their products anytime soon. Guess I’ll have to bake my own bread…

  • David Gillespie says:

    Olive oil is fine for most bread baking temps. But I agree lard (or any other animal fat) would be an even better choice (but that might be a bridge too far in these animal fat phobic days).

  • Short'n'stout says:

    Do you folks not own an oven? If you’re making loaves of bread at home, just make up a batch of the same dough, form it into rolls and chuck them in the oven. Much less faff (and quicker!) than trudging round the local bakeries trying to persuade them to change their recipes, and you’ll know exactly what’s in them.

  • […] saturated with omega-6 fats.  Everything in a package uses it.  Every deep frier uses it.  Every baker uses it.  And every little bite of it is taking out the neurons you depend on to keep you from the […]

  • paul says:

    Can you show any studies that identify lard as being healthier than olive oil? Are any of the world long lived populations big lard consumers?

    Crete, Sardinia, Okinawa have one thing in common, all !ow saturated fat consumers. Crete is a high fat consuming area from olive oil.

  • David Gillespie says:

    Paul, I think you’re asking the wrong question.

    I think the question should be: “Is there any population that has ever survived without medical intervention (for chronic disease) on a diet extremely high in omega-6 fats?”

    And the answer is no, the processed food generations (everything since World War I) are the first time in evolutionary history that feeding humans large quantities of omega-6 fats has been tried – and its not looking good on the chronic disease front.

    Humans are extremely well adapted to whole food diets (since that’s what we’ve had for our entire evolutionary history). We can cope with fat which comes entirely from equatorial fruit (Olives, Coconuts and Avocados) just as well as we can from marine mammals (think Inuit diets) or beef (the Masai for example).

    The common theme is not the amount of saturated versus monounsaturated fat (both of which we can make ourselves from carbohydrates anyway) it is the amount of polyunsaturated fat (which we cant make and which is very low in whole foods) and in particular omega-6 fat (very very low).

  • paul says:


    I think you missed the point of the question. The question I posed was not to do with omega 6. The cretian diets / meditaranean diets are not high in omega 6, and are not high in saturated fats.

    It was to do with the idea of lard being better than olive oil.

    Can quote plenty of examples of some of the worlds healthiest diets using olive oil. Is there an example of lard being better, or a research paper suggesting this?

  • David Gillespie says:

    I reckon I understood the question. I’d be very surprised to discover any study of any population which relies entirely on lard as its source of fat. The polynesians are a possible exception but they also got fat from coconuts and their diet was 75% carbohydrate anyway so it was not a significant portion of their calories. That being said there are plenty of whole food diets which depend largely on other sources of animal fat (eg the Inuit and the Masai).

    As a source of fat there’s nothing wrong with olive oil (in a diet otherwise light on polyunsaturates such as the med diet). But when you take animal fat (or coconut oil) over olive oil you are effectively substituting saturated fat for a significant percentage of the polyunsaturates in olive oil and this recent study makes it clear that is a good thing. Although if the fat being used is lard from a lot fed pig (which most in Australia are) you’re probably not changing the amount of omega-6 anyway.

    Does this mean I have a problem with Olive Oil? Hopefully this article makes it abundantly clear that I don’t.

  • paul says:

    If you understand the food system of the 70s when that study was done, and the food system of today, you will understand that that particular study does not prove the point at all. The miracle margarine used in that study in the 70s was a high trans fat margarine. Given that – the results of that study is what anyone would expect.

    In the 2000s Australian margarines are less than 1% trans fat (butter is 4%). So results from that study are hardly relevant today, unless high trans fat margarines make a come back in Australia.

    But that wasn’t the point to begin with. It was should people replace their olive oil with lard? With such a lack of evidence and also examples out in the real world that seems like a long bow. As for the Inuit, their animal fats are near!y all marine origin, so very high omega 3 oil intake.

  • David Gillespie says:

    Paul the authors explicitly considered the possibility that trans fats were the source of the results they observed. They concluded “Collectively, these observations indicate that changes in trans fatty acid were unlikely to play a substantial role in the findings reported here.”

  • Cherry Huggett says:

    Animal fat apparently contains alot of pesticides as well as the anti-biotics etc. More pesticides than vegies due to the animals high consumption of it in their diet. Plus it’s hardly environmentally friendly not to mention the horrific cruelty that is involved for the animals.
    I don’t think you should be an advocate for using animal fat instead for those reasons.

  • fatfreedie says:

    baker’s delite comes up a gmo product. Whether it’s the soy enhancer or junk oil who knows. But all Australian bread is sus. Nearly all has preservative in it. Plus other stuff and they don’t care cause they say it’s minute. I’d like to able to buy clean bread- but you can’t. Buy a bag of grain and a hand mill and grind your own for bread pizzas anything- don’t some of essential enzymes in grains only last 3 days after the grind . your family needs cleaner food . All dairy and meat are toxic – the seeds of cancer grows

  • Annie says:

    Hi David, besides the fact i love your books and all the effort you put into them…May i answer this question to Paul? You will never find a study on using “Animal Fats”…but that said…most eastern European countries use the different animal and bird fats they often kill in their own backyards. My grand-mother used to keep and fatten geese and when killed,she used to melt down the fat and store it in huge jars to be used in cooking,baking etc….same thing happened every Christmas with the pork fat…we even used the fats to preserve ( as a layer on top of jarred preserves) . We used it on bread instead of butter…goes without saying it was all organically home grown, just like our 700 chickens….People today are so brain washed…we hardly ever had sugar…we had the fruit from our garden…mostly berries…some pears and apples that we stored over winter…and we had every single day…with every meal, sour veggies stored for the winter when out garden was not producing vegetables….we had about 10 x 20 liter jars of different preserves ( cabbage,peppers/capsicum,cucumbers and stuffed mini eggplants. So the balance was there…yes,we ate a lot of animal fats but we also ate a lot of sour veggies. And the only time we all put on weight was when we came to the west and started using the facilities of processed foods…and lots of sugars …Thank god we are all very healthy still…and we did not have any vaccines then…but we went through the different sicknesses naturally….and were minded by the gran-parents.

  • Annie says:

    Organically grown animals do not have that problem…as for David being or not an advocate for animal fat or animal cruelty…it is a personal opinion…and he is free to express his…like you are free to express yours.Some of us love meat…some others do not…thank god we are still in a free(ish) country. Political correctness if often pushed to the limits…if we were to do everything not to upset some ppl…we would never express an opinion.

  • David Gillespie says:

    An update to this post is that since writing it, our Baker’s Delight has changed hands and now refuses to make the bread with Olive Oil. But the good news is that a new Brumby’s has now opened just down the road and they are more than happy to supply Olive Oil Bread Rolls – yay!

  • Matt says:

    Excelent, totaly agree with you. Ive given up bread because of vegetable oils, and i loved bread. So wish they used olive oil. Vegetable oils should be banned they are toxic and youdont want to be building new cells out of it. Also have the same problem with dog food, trying to find one with out vegetable oils. The government just let’s all these food company’s poison us for profit.

  • anonymous says:

    The only ingredients required to make bread are flour, water, yeast, and salt. So anyone baking bread with added oils or fats or sugars is throwing unnecessary ingredients into the mix. My suggestion is if you cannot find already made bread that only has these 4 ingredients, then get your hands on a good bread recipe that only has these 4 ingredients and make the bread yourself.

  • Steve says:

    I too went on the hunt for bread without vegetable oil and was very disappointed to find even the ‘organic’ bread had canola oil which is gmo by nature of its manufacturing to remove poison from Rape seed. How can they call it organic? Then I found a loaf that called itself ‘gut friendly’ again with canola oil and we all know (awake people) that seed oils cause inflammation in the gut and damage gut biome so again totally false advertising. Its disgusting! Going to try and bake my own now.

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