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Bread? It’s not for the birds!

It’s a family entertainment tradition and kids have been doing it for decades. But feeding bread to the ducks in your local park could soon become a thing of the past if Federation of Bakers has anything to do with it. So what’s the story?

A Don’t Feed the Ducks campaign has just been launched by the Federation, in partnership with park-keepers at Battersea Park and Clapham Common. You can expect to see ‘do not feed the ducks bread’ notices appearing in both parks this summer, designed to persuade the public to keep their bread for human consumption.

The campaign aims to cut waste and remind families about the many benefits of eating bread. But there’s also a bird welfare angle, with some bird charities saying bread is best kept for humans, not fed to our feathered friends. Bread is a vital part of a balanced diet for people but ducks are apparently much better off eating hamster grain or vegetables.

The Queen’s swans’ bread ban

At the same time park rangers will be confiscating white bread from people feeding it to the Queen’s swans at St Margaret’s Loch in Holyrood park, claiming it can harm the birds. A spokeswoman for Historic Scotland said “Brown bread is encouraged because of its nutritious value. White bread can cause joint problems in birds.”

The park is now full of signs asking visitors not to feed the swans with bread and other so-called treats like crisps, chips, rice and curry. But the jury is out: while park the wardens believe white bread can give birds arthritis, cause birth defects and even lead to starvation the RSPCA disagrees, saying, “As far as the RSPB is concerned, all types of bread are acceptable as part of a bird’s balanced diet. We would encourage feeding a range of foods as well as bread, including stale cheese, or cooked rice, adding butter to bread can also help provide a greater fat content.”

Balanced diets are best

Just like with human beings, the word ‘balanced’ is probably the most important message to take away from these stories. A duck or swan fed on nothing but bread would probably feel as poorly as a human who restricted their diet to bread alone, no matter how delicious and nutritious it might be.

‘Exotic’ artisan bread sales up by 50% in Tesco

At the same time the Express newspaper reveals that shoppers are shunning sliced white for ‘fancy’ loaves like focaccia, ciabatta, sourdough and olive bread, with Tesco sales soaring by 50% in the past year. It looks like there’s a quiet revolution going on. So-called exotic breads are certainly a whole lot more tasty, as our customers are well aware. And if ours are anything to go by, it’s far too good for the birds!

(Thanks to http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Elnias for the lovely image)