What is the social/environmental problem/issue that this project will address?
Bread is a major component of our diet, with five million Scots consuming an average of four million loaves every week. Reliance on imported grain increases the carbon footprint of our food.
Can Scotland really grow wheat of the right quality for making bread?
When we prioritise yield, 'efficiency' and profit over feeding our fellow citizens well, the answer is No.
When we grow better grain and bake better bread with the common purposes of nourishment, sustainability and food sovereignty, it’s Yes.
We can make our bread part of the solution to serious and costly diet-related ill-health
As things stand, the amount of iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium etc. in wheat is not even measured when it is grown to make bread for humans; nutritional quality becomes a factor only when grain is grown for animal feed.
Research suggests that, compared to older varieties, the modern wheats used in our bread have less of the minerals that are vital to our health and may have more of the proteins that are toxic to people with gluten sensitivity.
Nutritional research and testing are needed now. When we know, and can control, what's in our daily bread we will be able to improve the quality of this staple food.
We can reduce the carbon footprint of our food.
Giant mills, bakeries and supermarkets truck food needlessly up and down the country.
A complex and wasteful long-distance bread supply chain undermines local food producers and leaches the value out at each stage of growing, milling, storing, baking and delivering our daily bread.
Growing wheat locally on low-input farms, small-scale milling close to the farms, community-scale breadmaking and local distribution will all reduce carbon emissions.
We can support local food producers and local economies.
Scotland has lost many of its artisan food skills, including small-scale breadmaking that can make the most of locally-grown ingredients.
Small local bakeries create more jobs per loaf - keeping more wages and profits from meaningful work in each community.
Short supply chains and collaborative working will ensure fair prices for local farmers growing nourishing food for people.
Can you give us some statistics on this problem?
2 inches – the average increase in Scottish men’s waist lines in the last decade
66 – the percentage of Scots who are overweight or obese
£3 billion – the projected cost of obesity to Scotland in 2030
Fewer slices of more nutrient-packed bread = more satisfaction at less cost, to individuals and to the health service.
27.5 – the percentage of current Scottish wheat-land that we would need in order to be self-sufficient in breadmaking wheat, using low-impact agro-ecological methods
989,000 tonnes – wheat production in Scotland in 2014 (enough to make all Scotland's bread seven times over)
135,000 tonnes – wheat needed to make all Scotland’s bread
0 tonnes – amount of Scottish wheat currently used for bread
18-20% – contribution of food & agriculture to (UK) greenhouse gas emissions.
Our long-distance bread supply is part of the problem. Scotland The Bread is part of the solution.
1 in 22 – the number of currently unemployed people in Scotland, retrained as skilled bakers, needed so that everyone in Scotland is within walking distance of fresh, additive-free and preservative-free bread.
80 square metres (10 paces by 8 paces) – the amount of land needed to grow wheat for one person's entire bread requirement for a year (at 630 g per week)
What is your solution?
Scotland The Bread is setting a whole new agenda for cereal research and public health. We’ve started the hunt for resilient, mineral-rich wheats, sourcing rare grains and growing them on while using the cutting-edge expertise of Scottish molecular scientists to tell us exactly how nutritious they are. We make sure that ordinary citizens are involved by running workshops and knowledge exchanges as well as sharing seed and extending research beyond the confines of the laboratory.
We are researching, testing and developing grains in collaboration with leading Scottish research institutions and partners in similar agro-ecological projects in England and Scandinavia. We’ve even been to the renowned Vavilov Institute in St Petersburg to get valuable Scottish wheat from their seed bank.
Starting with three heritage wheats, grown on four farms, we have set out to discover which grow best in Scottish conditions, which will make good, tasty bread and (here’s what makes Scotland The Bread so different) exactly what vital nourishment they contain.
We are teaching much-needed breadmaking skills and training individuals/groups in making bread as a social or a community enterprise.
We will support communities to grow, make and share bread together, starting this year with six groups who will grow a healthy loaf from soil to slice, pass on their skills to others and share the benefits of making healthier bread.
How will you deliver this?
With £6,000 of funding, and a matching loan from the A Team Foundation, we can buy all the small-scale, portable equipment we need; in time for a full wheat-growing season. Every pledge will help all the groups with:
Sowing wheat grains accurately and economically with a hand-operated seeding machine makes for easier weeding (without chemicals) and optimal yield per square metre.
Cutting can easily be done with a sickle or scythe, but threshing the grain out of the ears and then separating it from the chaff is best done with a hand-operated or small powered machine.
Cleaning At this stage the grain may still be mixed with weed seeds, dust and even small grain-sized stones or pieces of dirt. Grain can harbour mycotoxins and spores of plant infections such as stinking smut or common bunt. It’s not good practice to risk spreading such diseases by sowing dirty seed. Nor is it advisable to mill such grain into flour for bread making. Scotland The Bread bakers are particularly mindful not to waste or contaminate the bounty of minerals, vitamins, natural yeasts and beneficial bacteria that is concentrated in the outer, and the most exposed, surfaces of each grain. So an efficient cleaner is essential to ensure that only good, healthy grains are passed on for sowing or baking.
Milling A small electric stone mill makes it possible for everyone to capture the full vitality and flavour of the grain by grinding fresh flour right into the mixing bowl. Bread doesn’t get better than this!
The Story So Far
Further information on Scotland the Bread (currently hosted by Bread Matters), including what activity has happened to date can be found here.
Our research partners at the James Hutton Institute reported promising results on mineral density during 2014, pointing the way for the next stages of research.
Others who have helped to initiate Scotland The Bread include :
Andrew Forbes (Brockwell Bake Association, London), the UK's leading heritage wheat researcher who gathered the initial Scotland The Bread wheat varieties from gene banks around the world
Angus McDowall (Mungoswells, East Lothian), organic farmer, miller and maltster
Hugh Grierson (Newmiln, Perthshire), organic farmer and retailer
Jocelyn Warwick, organic farmer, heritage cereal grower and Soil Association inspector
Dr Mike Ambrose of the John Innes Centre, Norwich; Manager of the Germplasm Resources Unit
Dr Clare Fennell, sustainable food advocate, Nourish Scotland
Professor Christine Watson, leader of Soils and Systems Research at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and president of the European Society of Agronomy
Professor Derek Stewart FRSC of Heriot Watt University, leader of Enhancing Crop Productivity and Utilization Themes at the James Hutton Institute
Dr Luke Ramsay, cereal specialist at the James Hutton Institute
Colleen McCulloch, Agricultural Development Manager, Soil Association Scotland