"I used to bake my own bread until I found Vital Vittles."
--Helen, Berkeley

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Other brands crumble next to Vital Vittles
by Tara Duggan, San Francisco Chronicle
Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Nutrition experts always talk about the benefits of whole grains. One easy way to get them is through multigrain bread, which usually contains grains like barley, oats, buckwheat, quinoa, millet and whole wheat.

These grains can provide fiber, complex carbohydrates and protein as well as minerals such as iron, magnesium and copper.

This week's panel tasted seven types of whole-wheat multigrain bread. Some were simply called multigrain, while others had a specific number of grains on the label.

The top scorer was Vital Vittles 9 Grain, an organic bread made in Berkeley. Panelists found it "pleasantly coarse," with "wheat-y flavor and undertones of molasses." Others found it "dry," "with cardboard flavor." One commented that "it needs mayo." Four would buy it and one might buy it.

Scores dropped after first place. Second place went to Alfaro's Hearty Grain & Seed, a brand that split the panel down the middle. Some said it had a "nice taste and texture" and "would probably make good toast," but others thought it had too many poppy seeds and was "too sweet." Two would buy it, one might buy it and two would not.

Just three points separated Alfaro's from Vital Vittles 12 Grain, another organic loaf by the Berkeley company. One panelist said, "The flavor is honest." Some thought the bread was "crumbly" and "a bit dry." Three might buy it and two would not.

Fourth place went to Alvarado St. Bakery 7-Grain, an organic bread made in Rohnert Park. Two panelists, who might buy it, thought it was "softer" than the other brands and "moist, with a good grain contrast." The others wouldn't buy it, finding the brand "coarse and grainy" and "lacking in wheat flavor."

The panel also tasted Whole Grain Nine Grain, Whole Foods Nine Grain and Pure Grain Multigrain, but they scored too low to rate.

Tara Duggan is a Chronicle staff writer. E-mail her at tduggan@sfchronicle.com

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