Turns out, bread might be bad for the environment
So for a while, we all thought science was telling us to cut out gluten other carb-y delights to stay healthy, but then, science changed its tune and said a gluten-free diet might actually be bad for you. Yeah, we are just as confused as you are when it comes to how we’re supposed to feel about bread. However, one thing is for sure: Bread seems to be pretty unhealthy for the environment. (OK, two things: We also know it’s extremely delicious.) Yep, scientists in the UK have determined it is having a massive impact on the earth.
Through careful analysis, researchers have worked out the greenhouse gas emissions from producing a single loaf of bread, and it ain’t looking too good. Bread accounts for half a percent of the total emissions. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but food accounts for 10% of the overall gas emissions in the UK. Half of a percent from bread? That’s considerable. Luckily, they’ve pinpointed a clear target to reducing the emissions: the fertilizer used to grow the wheat.
According to Salon, researcher, Peter Horton, and his colleagues from the University of Sheffield found the bulk of the greenhouse gases come directly from the farm:
“An estimated 60 percent of agricultural crops depend on fertilizer; wheat farmers use ammonium nitrate fertilizer to grow their crops. It boosts growth by providing nitrogen, but it also contains and releases a multitude of substances with a potential impact on climate, including ammonia, carbon dioxide and methane.
Oof. That’s rough.
So, what can be done to aid Mother Earth but still keep all of us bread-happy?
Some of the options being explored are using fertilizer at certain points within the season (as opposed to continuous usage) and working with farmers to implement different cropping systems. We, as consumers, can make the choice to eat organic bread. This will have an immediate and powerful effect.
Next time you reach for that almighty slice, remember there’s more at stake than how your food impacts your body.