Wheat - mainly April bearded - 11 days away from harvest.
Wheat – mainly April bearded – 11 days away from harvest.

In the UK we condemned our craft bakers at the same time we scaled up industrialisation, some time soon after the end of the second world war. As a nation we stopped eating half as much bread, down from 1565g in 1955 to 885g in 1981 (Wenlock, 1983). Is this due to the commoditisation of our food system and bread making as part of that?  I grew up in the 70’s and ate things like Finders Crispy Pancakes, waffles, short crust bread pizza with cornedbeef topping and pasta in a can, my wife’s diet was a lot worse than that, and a friend of mines mum boiled her corn on the cob for an hour, and in a a pressure cooker. I ate healthy allotment veg too, but everything outside our immediate control took the form of industrialised rubbish. In Richard Sennets book ‘The Carftsmen’ he talks in his prologue about Reinhold Neibuhr and his observation that anything that seems possible should be tried, and that this is built into our very existence. Sennet goes on to document the writings of Heidegger on the occasion he compared the misdeed of death camps to mechanised agriculture. Both he says through Peter Kempt’s words “should be regarded as the embodiment of the ‘same technological frenzy’ which if left unchecked would lead to a world-wide ecological catastrophe. Those words were uttered in 1949, today we find ourselves deep inside this technological frenzy that has lead to this ecological catastrophe.

Bio-diversity loss is 1000 to 10,000 times it’s natural level caused mainly by industrial agriculture’s clammer for more land. As the land they had becomes defunct and yields stagnate or drop they burn and deforest the next swath. As the majority of the worlds industrially processed land is used for cereal growth and wheat is the third biggest crop at 600m tones(FAOSTAT) off 520m acres, then we should think that – its a bit of a leap but I’ll explain more as this thesis develops – bread making on an industrial scale is a major cause of this ecological catastrophe and that just because we can create machines to take over what craftspeople used to do that doesn’t mean we should do it. Today in the UK 97% of our bread is ‘technologically’ constructed and consumed by us in bulk of eye watering proportions, 11m loaves baked a day (Whitely 2011), according to Mintel (2013) £3.8b a year was spent on baked goods in 2013 (this includes other bread, bagels, etc) and 53% of the UK population eat white sliced bread daily. In Neibuhr words this whole industry of machines and mechanical processes makes sense, we can do it so why wouldn’t we? We have proved with food, bread and agriculture that we can push our systems so far down a route that it is neigh on impossible for the majority of people to see a way back. With bread making I believe we can see our way back, past the 70’s and the great wars to a time when bread was made by craftspeople. Andrew Whitley – http://breadmatters.com/index.php?route=information/information&information_id=26 – argues we need 75,000 craft bakers to change the industrial baking paradigm we are currently in. This maybe true mathematically, and makes a lot of sense socially, I’d love to see, through my research whether this is already happening and if it is what form it could eventually end up as.

Any help elaborating on this subject is much appreciated…. feel free to comment.