I read a lot. Weighty academic tomes. Impenetrable critical theory. Students' essays. Other people's blogs. Recipe books. The occasional magazine. Contemporary fiction. I have a particular weakness for vast, sprawling, nineteenth-century novels and for biographies of obscure women modernists.
When there is no other printed material to hand, I will even read the small print on the backs of packets and jars. And so it was that I discovered that the loaf of bread I bought from the supermarket last week contained stoneground wholemeal wheat flour, water, yeast and salt. No surprises so far, then (although I would not necessarily expect a single slice of bread to contain nearly 1 gram of salt).
But then I continued to read the list of ingredients. In addition to the above, my '100% wholemeal, farmhouse loaf' also contained mono- and diacetyl tartaric esters, sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate, calcium suphate and calcium propionate.
I do not know what any of the above are, but they sound like they belong in a chemistry lab, and not in a loaf of bread - 'farmhouse batch' or not.
Like many people we try to live sustainably. Wherever possible I buy locally produced, seasonal produce; bread is one of the few 'ready made', processed foods I still purchase from the supermarket.
The sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate is, however, the Last Straw. I have gone online and ordered a bread maker. From now on, I will bake my own bread - that way, I can be sure of what has gone in it.
And OK, I admit it - it did also cross my mind that the nasty chemicals we've been consuming along with our daily bread may be responsible for both Mr H's wonky sperm and my recalcitrant ovaries. There is a small part of me that is hoping cutting them out may obviate the need for further medical intervention!