Because not all loaves are created equal.
Bread (or products marketed as such) is a fundamental part of our diet: 99% of UK households buy it* and 74% of us eat it at least once a day**.
Unfortunately, most of the 12 million loaves produced in Britain each day are made using methods that arguably have little regard for nutritional qualities or the environmental and social impact of production and distribution.
It is vital that we all help to rescue bread from its status as a bland and adulterated filling carrier - the thing that keeps your fingers dry when eating a sandwich.
We are fighting for a return to Real Bread and finding ways to make all bread:
Real Bread is made with simple, natural ingredients, proven over many centuries to be a beneficial part of the human diet.
The majority of loaves produced in the UK today are made in large factories using artificial additives - some legally undeclared on the label - and perhaps a dollop of fat. High-speed mixing, high levels of yeast and perhaps a lacing of enzymes are employed to force the dough to rise quickly, rather than allowing the bread to ferment and 'ripen' in its own good time. These loaves may well then be sprayed with chemicals such as calcium propionate to slow the growth of mould.
Expensive marketing may tempt us with ‘healthier’ factory loaves but these are usually not very different from standard lines, except you will probably be charged a premium for the privilege of a few further additions to the ingredients list.
It's hardly surprising that many people tell us that they find this industrially-produced stuff hard to digest.
A key aim of the Real Bread Campaign is to share with people the true values of locally-produced bread.
Small, local, independent bakeries were once the heart of every neighbourhood. Today around 80% of UK loaves are produced by the factories of a handful of industrial bakers and another 15-17% by supermarkets - places far removed physically and socially from our local communities.
Money spent with local businesses such as independent bakeries is worth many times more to a local economy than money spent at, say, a supermarket. One study in Northumberland found that, of every £1 spent with local businesses, an average of 76% was re-invested locally, giving a total local spend of £1.76. By contrast, for every £1 spent with suppliers based outside the area, only 36p was returned*.
Slowly, independent bakeries are re-emerging, bringing traditional skills to members of local communities, providing a real boost to local economies and places of social interaction for local people. We are working to support and encourage this trend.
Importantly, we are also looking for ways to increase access to Real Bread in the face of obstacles including lack of local bakeries, problems with transport or mobilty, social and/or economic disadvantage and procurement choices made by some public institutions that might favour the cheapest loaf at the cost of all other considerations.
Collectively, the big bakers that produce the majority of our loaves transport more than twelve million of them around the country each day*. Diesel-guzzling lorry loads are taken up and down motorways from large plant bakeries to central distribution depots and from there may well be transported to local distribution hubs and then on to retailers.
The Campaign is also supporting work to create shorter grain chains, that is to say, reducing the distance between where grain is grown, the flour milled, the dough baked and the bread consumed.
An example is a neighbourhood baker reducing food miles by producing Real Bread close to or even at the point of sale using flour milled from locally-grown grain.
Home bakers can make a contribution by producing Real Bread at the point of consumption, which could also help to reduce food waste. Of the 2.6 billion individual slices of bread that we throw away each year, only 8.6% are from home-baked loaves. Added to this, £50 million worth of bread loaves are thrown away each year completely untouched; 100% of these are bought bread**.
* Calculated by Sustain from figures published by the Flour Advisory Bureau and Federation of Bakers.
** The Food We Waste, Wrap, April 2008