Breaking Bread: Sustainable Solutions

FOR PLANET AND PEOPLE

This blog is part of our ‘Shout Out!’ series bringing to your attention people or projects that we want to cheer on as we develop a culture of mutual support and encouragement at Planet and People. Our interests are broad - women in business, environmental living, the climate crisis, educating the next generation. It’s all worth shouting about!


Bethia: Last week I met and chatted to baker, educator and environmentalist Fleur. I learnt a huge amount from her and we covered a lot of ground! From globalisation and business, to diversity in both our diets and our cultural norms - it was a conversation that left me buzzing! Here are some of the highlights:

A WORLD VIEW:

Fleur is a sourdough baker and has 6 years experience of working in the baking industry. Her insights gave an interesting global perspective. Did you know we import the vast majority of our flour from abroad (from USA, Canada, Kazakhstan to name a few places)? So, even if we are choosing to buy a locally baked loaf of bread (or any processed product in fact), we must still consider the food miles of the ingredients.

If we take a look at the global market for wheat, the range of grains available has shrunk over time as producers have sought to grow fast and produce BIG. Unfortunately this results in less diversity in the product - fewer seed varieties, a smaller gene bank, fewer flour varieties - a one size fits all world of flour. Fleur wonders if this is one of the contributing factors to the rise in gluten intolerance.

Recently, I read Sapiens (by Yuval Harari) - definitely worth a read! - which makes the point that the hunter gatherer diet was massively diverse - eat what you can find. We now eat what tastes good and what is convenient and easily available and therefore the diversity of our food is significantly reduced. Could gluten intolerance be down to an overload of one type of flour for too long? Reduced diversity has massive impacts on the environment too - on soil health, wildlife habitats and so much more.

A LOCAL VIEW:

Fleur has been involved in an exciting initiative to focus on growing, milling and baking bread as a more local enterprise. She’s involved in the South West Grain Network which links farmers who are growing heritage grain (linked to the specific soil and microclimate of this region) to millers who are using different techniques to grind flour and maintain more of the original nutritional content, to bakers like Fleur who are bringing us delicious bread that really IS truly local!

You can read more by finding out about the UK Grain Lab which is a gathering of people promoting the growing and eating of non-commodity grains in the UK and seeking an alternative, more sustainable way to think about what we eat and grow grain-based foods. It’s about shortening the supply chain (so we can moore easily track where our food is coming from), making sustainable agriculture the norm, having better food security through diversity of crops and becoming more in tune with how our food is made and where it comes from so we can make better and healthier choices - beneficial for both planet and people!

YOU AND ME AND FAMILY:

What does this mean for us? For me, it’s about getting clued up. What more can we learn about the many interfaces between our environment and our everyday lives? How does this inform the way we parent? As Fleur talked more about education, it’s obvious that her passion for baking and food gives her a concern for what we are feeding our kids in schools. You can fit so many school subjects into crop growing, food production, eating and cooking - maths, geography, history, biology - it’s all there! We need more people like Fleur influencing our schools, people who have the knowledge and passion to equip our kids with a better idea of the whole picture. Maybe this new knowledge can inform some of the ways we talk to our children about the food we eat.

For me, there’s almost nothing more enlivening than a new idea, a new spin on something I thought I ‘knew about’, a new angle, a new vision - Fleur certainly gave me that! Each month we try to do the same through our Planet Action Kit - we hope to give kids that “wow” moment as they learn and discover more about planet and people.

FOR PLANET AND PEOPLE is a weekly blog conversation by ‘Planet & People’ to reflect our values and behaviours and encourage open conversation on topical eco-issues.

We are the creators of 'Planet Action Kit', inspiring kids to LOVE the Earth. PAK is an educational resource and subscription activity box providing personalised learning resources engaging budding planet-friendly kids. The activities focus on the four main themes: Love, Observe, inVolve and Enjoy and are centred around matters of environment and sustainability.

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