We need to talk about bread, says food redistribution charity

We need to talk about bread, says food redistribution charity
The overproduction of bread and its role in the generation of food waste has come under fire from a campaign launched by The Real Junk Food Project, an organisation that intercepts and uses surplus food.

The group uses collected surplus food to produce meals, which it then serves in its network of ‘pay as you feel’ (PAYF) cafes, where people pay as much as they think the food is worth or can afford. Edible food including fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, cheese and tinned products are collected by the charity from allotments, food banks, restaurants and cafes and even food photographers and events.

The ‪#‎weneedtotalkaboutbread campaign was started following the decision of the Sheffield branch of The Real Junk Food Project to stop taking bread, due to the fact that the company was intercepting so much bread waste that even they couldn’t find a use for all of it.

Announcing the decision to refuse bread products, the group wrote: 'The problem with bread isn't one of changing procedures or distribution. The problem with bread is one of massive overproduction. For many shops bread is a loss-leader. Most bread in this country is a not produced to feed people, it is produced as a disposable marketing item to get you in the store and then to be chucked away at the end of the day.

'We receive crates full of bread every day that currently nobody needs. We couldn't pay people to come and pick it all up. We will continue to redistribute any bread for which we can find a good destination. But we need to stop accepting the leftover products of an immoral and wasteful marketing habit. Because by taking this bread away every day we are actually making it easier for shops to continue what they do, and that cannot be the goal. This problem will need to be addressed at the source, and we will be working with our partners to try and change this.'
Around 24 million slices of bread are thrown away in the UK every day, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), and The Real Junk Food Project says that so far in 2016, 28 per cent of food intercepted by the project has been bread, amounting to around 55 tonnes or 69,040 sliced loaves.

We need to talk about bread, says food redistribution charity
Two weeks' worth of unused bread waste at the project's Leeds branch
To highlight the amount of bread that is being thrown out by supermarkets, the charity’s Leeds branch, where it would founded in 2013, posted pictures on Facebook of two weeks worth of ‘bread waste waste’ – that left over after catering for PAYT cafes, schools and charities in the area – which amounted to tens of crates.

The project says that ‘rather than becoming a waste disposal unit for others’ it has decided to launch the campaign to raise questions around why so much bread is being produced than people can consume and how much damage the over-production is causing to the environment.

According to the Real Junk Food Project, it collected enough unwanted bread from retailers to feed its customers 14 slices of bread every day despite the national average consumption only being 2-3 slices, stating ‘we cannot let this continue’.

Toast Ale offering alternative use for wasted bread

One of the supporters of the ‪#‎weneedtotalkaboutbread campaign is Toast Ale, a beer that uses toasted surplus bread in its brewing process and donates its profits to food waste charity Feedback.

Food waste campaigner Tristram Stuart launched the ale in January this year to make use of unwanted edible bread and has published the recipe online to encourage potential home-brewers to make beer from their bread crusts.

According to Toast Ale website, bread is ‘the worst offender’ for food waste as 44 per cent of all bread is thrown away and enough bakery products are produced to ‘lift 26 million people out of malnutrition’.

More information about the #weneedtotalkaboutbread campaign can be found on The Real Junk Food Project's Facebook page.

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