6 Alternatives to 87,000 Slices of Bread

Over the course of a lifetime, the average American consumes over 87,000 slices of bread. Yes, you read that correctly ó eighty-seven thousand. That’s more than a loaf per week per person, not counting the additional 5,000 hot dog buns and 12,000 hamburger buns each American devours in his or her life.

All that wheat calculates out to a lifetime grand total of 21,947 loaves and buns. The National Geographic Societyís Human Footprint project has illustrated this shocking bread obsession in a stunning visual (see the video clip below). In the words of my little brother, who is no stranger to wheatless ways, “That is a totally nasty amount of bread.”

Thereís no argument that bread is an American staple. Amber waves of grain are, after all, an American icon. But we canít live by bread alone. So what are some wheatless alternatives? Before you reach for loaf of wheat-flour bread, think again. Here are some healthy, wheatless sides to keep you away from that 87,000 slice average.

Next, Replacing Bread with Starches and Grains

Starches and Grains

White Potatoes: The average American will consume 20,000 potatoes in his or her lifetime. But why not? Potatoes are satisfyingly filling, and are packed with fiber, vitamin C, manganese and potassium. And there are countless versatile ways to prepare them, from baked to mashed to latkes. Just stay away from the fried ones.

Rice: This one is a no-brainer, since so much of the world populationís diet is based on rice. When combined with a legume, whole grain brown rice forms a complete protein providing the body with necessary amino acids. Lundberg Family Farms is a Sacramento-based rice producer which offers certified organic and eco farmed varieties of rice. You can read about their sustainabity practices here. Also, since Lundberg rice is packaged in a dedicated facility, there are no worries about cross-contamination.

Millet: Millet is a fantastic, overlooked source of magnanese, tryptophan, magnesium and phosphorus. While it is technically a seed, it is usually prepared as a grain that can be eaten in place of rice. And did you know that sprouted millet and cashews can be used to make vegan yogurt? Just beware that millet is not gluten-free, so if you are a celiac, this oneís off limits.

Amaranth: This overlooked grain-like food, is actually an herb. When it comes to a showdown with wheat, amaranth is the clear winner, with five times the amount of iron and three times the amount of fiber. And yes, protein-rich amaranth is gluten-free. To prepare, use a 3:1 water:amaranath ratio.

Next, Sprouted Grain Breads

Sprouted Grain Breads

If youíre sticking to whole foods and staying away from the wheat, but still itching to reach for a slice of bread, thereís good news. There are an abundance of wheat-free breads on the market that donít use refined flour. Made from sprouted whole grains, these breads are better for you than the processed flour kind. Look for breads made from sprouted kamut, spelt, barley and rye in your health food market or local co-op ó brands vary depending on where in the country you live.

Next, Gluten-Free Breads

Gluten-Free Breads

For those with celiac disease or gluten-intolerance though, thereís a catch. The grains most often used in sprouted breads ó kamut, spelt, barley and rye ó arenít gluten-free. In fact, I have yet to find a wheat-free sprouted grain bread that is also gluten-free. But donít despair. This doesnít mean gluten-free breads donít exist. Companies like Food for Life and Ener-G offer a wide selection of delicious gluten-free breads made from rice and tapioca flours. And donít forget all the variations of baked goods you can create using your own wheat-free, gluten-free flour blend.

Green Options Media is a network of environmentally-focused blogs providing users with the information needed to make sustainable choices. Written by experienced professionals, Green Options Mediaís blogs engage visitors with authoritative content, compelling discussions, and actionable advice. We invite anyone with questions, or simply curiosity, to add their voices to the community, and share their approaches to achieving abundance.

By Gina Munsey, Eat. Drink. Better

29 comments

Heidi R.
Past Member 4 years ago

Having been taken off bread due to diabetes I found that rice cakes, rice noodles and rice itself fill the void. I don't miss bread at all. I like all your alternatives. Thank you.

J.L. A.
JL A.4 years ago

great ideas

JE L.
Jane L.6 years ago

Thanks.

Subhash Joshi
Subhash Joshi7 years ago

I believe that bread of various kinds, including wheat, in right proportions is the answer to our (refined) flour based staple. I must say, in India, most people in Northern parts except hills base their diet on 'chapati', commonly called Indian bread or 'roti' in the West. We Punjabis love corn bread with cooked green mustard leaves (sarson ka saag) with plenty of ginger, garlic and aesfotida which makes a great diet for the winters but I lament our propensity for over-indulgence resulring in all 'waste going to our waists'.

Many thanks for suggesting the alternatives and I intend giving these alternatives a good publicity amongst my friends but shall advise them to find out what is the best proportion for each one of them from amnogst the suggested alternatives. I should think that the alternatives will provide the necessary variety to the adventurous palate of foodies as also the satisfaction of deriving benefits a wholesome and nutritious diet.

Best wishes to all.

Subhash Joshi
Subhash Joshi7 years ago

I believe that bread of various kinds, including wheat, in right proportions is the answer to our (refined) flour based staple. I must say, in India, most people in Northern parts except hills base their diet on 'chapati', commonly called Indian bread or 'roti' in the West. We Punjabis love corn bread with cooked green mustard leaves (sarson ka saag) with plenty of ginger, garlic and aesfotida which makes a great diet for the winters but I lament our propensity for over-indulgence resulring in all waste going to our waists.

Many thanks for suggesting the alternatives and I intend giving these alternatives a good publicity amongst my friends but am going to advise hem to find out what is the best proportion for each one of them amnogst the suggested alternatives. I should think that alternatives will provide the necessary variety to the adventure palate of foodies as also the satisfaction of deriving benefits a wholesome and nutritious diet.

Best wishes to all.

Gina M.
Gina M.7 years ago

How exciting to see all the feedback this story has generated! Thanks for taking the time to express yourself.

I’m not advocating that everyone gives up wheat. My goal is to encourage us to become more conscious and intentional food consumers — to stop and think about where our food comes from and exactly what it is before we eat it. I am advocating thoughtful — rather than thoughtless — consumption.

Robert M.
Robert M.7 years ago

Ok. Let's get this straight - and *please* fix it in the article.
Millet is gluten free.
It is an important grain for coeliacs.
I refer to the Australian Coeliac Society Handbook, page 13.
"Gluten free grains & starches INCLUDE: maize/corn, rice, sago, tapioca/arrowroot, buckwheat, MILLET, amaranth, quinoa, potato, soy, legume flours (eg chickpea or lentil)"

Please do not spread misinformation about this serious condition.

Lori Meehan
Lori Meehan7 years ago

I'm a sandwich-lover, I choose my bread wisely, I vary my diet to get a good mix of nutrients. Don't demonize everything! Pomegranates are great for you but expensive and I don't think they are grown anywhere near where I live - so I've got to weigh health benefits against eco-destruction. Making healthy choices is tough enough without crap articles like this one.

Venki P.
Past Member 7 years ago

Thank you!

Tony S.
Tony S.7 years ago

Yes, Thanks!