London's loaves consigned to bread bin (2004)
Arriving hot on the heels of National Sandwich Week a new report, Bread Street: the British baking bloomer (published May 2004), identifies the threat to London’s food diversity posed by that symbol of standardisation: sliced bread. Despite the huge diversity celebrated in Bread Street, approximately 80% of the bread sold in the UK is sliced, wrapped, and made from the industrial Chorleywood Bread Process. Just two companies provide more than half the bread we consume.
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London Food Link’s  chair, Anne Dolamore is appalled: “These over-salted, non-moulding and tasteless slabs are a poor legacy of centuries of baking which have given us bloomers, cottage loaves, coburgs and stotties. In London especially, our range of domestic breads has been added to by sour-dough, chapati, pitta, bagel, pumpernickel and other breads which reflect the diversity of our citizens.”
Sustain's main work on bread is now through the Real Bread Campaign. See the separate micro-site at: http://www.realbreadcampaign.org
Standardised bread is not only contributing to the erosion of variety in baking, but is also often unhealthy, being high in salt and saturated fat, and stripped of many of its nutrients. One reason it may be so popular is its low price, with many supermarkets selling this bread as a loss leader i.e. at prices below its cost of production. This disregard for quality over cost is emphasised by one of the interviewees, an Italian Home baker who commented, “People are obsessed with the price of food. Here you want everything cheap.”
Bread Street: the British baking bloomer, is part of a London Food Link project which uses bread to reflect London’s diversity through the experiences of a Somalian home-baker and a Polish Commercial Bakery amongst others.
1. London Food Link is a project by Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming. London Food Link aims to help producers, consumers and retailers make a positive choice for sustainable local food. This means better access to affordable, high quality and seasonal food, shorter supply chains and campaigning for policies that promote a thriving food economy and culture. London Food Link members include councils, health authorities, businesses, environment and community groups. For more information contact: Ben Reynolds, London Food Link, 020 7065 0902. www.londonfoodlink.org
2. Bread Street was funded by grants from the Arts Council England (London), the Association for London Government and the Bridge House Estates Trust Fund.
Download the report from the Food Facts section of the Sustain publications list.
To see information on activities undertaken by Sustain on the theme of Real Bread, click on 'What happened next' in the menu on the left, or click here.