Bread waste: it’s no loafing matter
Bread is one of the most wasted foods in Australia. According to food rescue organisation OzHarvest, bread represents a big slice of the 7 million tonnes of food we throw away every year. This comes at an estimated cost of more than $20 billion a year. But unlike commonly wasted staples like meat and dairy, bread waste is easily avoidable.
Sustainability Victoria has risen to the task of cutting down on bread waste, rolling out its Bread to be More campaign to encourage Victorians to use up all the bread they buy. Right now, for every loaf of bread that’s eaten in Victoria, almost half a loaf is thrown away. This adds up to about 125 million loaves. Imagine what Jesus could have done with that lot.
A growing problem
The issue here is not just about wasting food. The resources required to produce bread are significant. UK research has found that more than half of all greenhouse gas emissions caused by bread production come from growing wheat. That’s before we even get to the resources required for harvesting, milling and baking. According to Sustainability Victoria, cutting out bread waste in Victoria alone would be equivalent to removing more than 100,000 cars off the road each year. That’s not crumby at all.
Use your loaf
Making the most of your bread is relatively easy. Store it in a cool spot in your kitchen (bread goes stale faster in the fridge). According to Foodwise, a ceramic bread bin is best, but if you don’t have one of those, you can keep bread wrapped in a paper bag and tea towel, or if it came in a plastic bag, just keep it in that. If you don’t finish your bread while it’s fresh, put it in the freezer wrapped in an airtight bag or container, remembering to slice it beforehand if it isn’t already. You can find more bread freezing tips here.
Kitchen creativity never gets stale
There are also plenty of ways you can use bread in your cooking, such as making croutons, bruschetta, bread and butter pudding or French toast. You can also blitz it up and make breadcrumbs to use in seafood or chicken recipes, or to add to meatballs or “neatballs”. For more recipe ideas, head to sustainability.vic.gov.au and foodwise.com.au.
Be a bread winner
For businesses like bakeries and cafes, giving extra loaves to food rescue charities like OzHarvest and Foodbank might seem like a good idea, but they’re limited in the amount of bread they can take. However, smaller charities like The Gift of Bread do rescue and redistribute surplus fresh bread to vulnerable Australians.
Just because bread is cheap and plentiful, it doesn’t mean it’s okay to waste it. The number of Australians experiencing food insecurity increased to 28 percent in 2020, and a third of this number had never been food insecure before COVID, so you should never take your daily bread for granted. Use every slice (even the crusty ends) and you’ll be saving money, cutting down on food waste and helping the environment.