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Stale Bread, Bread Basket Wars, the Texas Wheat Crisis and More

huge wheat field and combine harvester

Spring is on the horizon at last and we’re already enjoying another successful year. We can’t let you know about our latest artisan bread innovations quite yet – they’re still a closely guarded secret. If we tell you, we will have to kill you. But we have a real treat or two in store for our foodservice customers! Watch this space. In the meantime, here’s the news.

Titanium dioxide – It’s everywhere… but is it safe?

Barely a day goes by without some edible substance or other being blamed for causing various nasty diseases. This time it’s the turn of a common bread additive called titanium dioxide, AKA E171, which apparently damages cell structures inside the intestine, preventing some nutrients from being absorbed and breaching the intestinal wall to reach other parts of the body.

According to a team of researchers from France regular ingestion of E171 led to a non-malignant early colon cancer in 40% of animals. The finding has prompted the French government to ask for a review of E171’s safety as a food additive.

On the other hand E171 is a long-term additive that people have been consuming for decades, hardly a new kid on the dietary block. It’s also used in white paint, paper, plastic and toothpaste, is used to add colour to doughnuts and to make skimmed milk look less blue. All of which makes it a very difficult substance to avoid unless you stop eating processed foods altogether.

Does stale bread help prevent colon cancer?

In the same week that someone’s beloved pet dog died from eating mouldy bread, there’s growing evidence that eating stale bread might actually help prevent colon cancer.

Some scientists at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, have looked into resistant starches, a group of carbohydrate molecules that resist the body’s natural digestive enzymes, eating the starches and leaving behind fatty acids which are good for the human gut. Some allegedly help fight off obesity, others help to regulate gut hormones, some help maintain healthy cell growth in the colon’s lining, and a few scientists even believe they can slow or actually stop the start of the cellular chain reaction that might lead to colon cancer.

Ordinary white bread doesn’t contain much resistant starch, even when it’s stale, but whole wheat bread and other sources of resistant starch probably deliver more of a health benefit. Flour made from green bananas, for example, contains much more resistant starch.

It might be time to think twice before throwing away your stale bread… but at the same time it isn’t sensible to eat bread that has gone mouldy.

Ukrainian flour exports rocket

Ukrainian flour exporters supplied a whopping 42.5 KMT of flour to foreign markets in December last year, not far short of 50% more than the same time the year before. It’s the biggest ever monthly volume of flour shipments to come out of Ukraine. They export most of it – an impressive 35% – to China and South Korea, but the hike is being laid at the feet of Africa.

There’s currently a surge in Ukrainian flour exports to African nations and Angola has fast become the third biggest customer, following South Korea. Somalia is another fast-growing customer, importing more than 13.5 KMT of Ukrainian flour compared to 1.9 KMT for the entire last season. Benin, Ghana, Djibouti, Egypt, Madagascar and Togo also bought more flour than ever from Ukraine.

More bread basket wars

Anstee’s bakery in Bristol is being forced to shell out more than £5,000 in costs and damages for ‘using and abusing’ Bakers Basco’s baskets without permission. A County Court hearing made the decision on hearing this wasn’t the first time Anstee Bakery had been caught red handed. They’ve been fined several times before.

Freshly baked bread and jam delivered to your door

If we needed any more evidence that proper bread is more popular than ever, a new artisan bakery in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, is delivering freshly baked bread to people’s doors within a mile of the premises. And it’s a smash hit.

The latest One Mile Bakery has been set up by Marianne Bradley, following the stellar success of Elisabeth Mahoney’s original One Mile Bakery in Cardiff, which was opened in 2012.

All the products sold are made at home using seasonal produce and traditionally milled organic flour, and the bread, soups and jams created there are delivered by bike in the same kind of one-hour delivery slots offered by online supermarket deliveries. They also provide hugely popular bespoke baking classes, and there are more One Mile Bakery outlets on the drawing board.

Texas plants fewer wheat acres than they did in 1909

Texas has planted fewer wheat acres than it did in 1909, a previous low point in the nation’s wheat growing history. Low wheat prices are partly to blame but according to the experts the real problem is the weather, which isn’t playing ball.

In West Central Texas, for example, there’s been a long run of unseasonably dry, warm and windy weather which has dried out the soil and is resulting in wildfires. The State’s rolling plains and south plains are not faring much better, also unusually warm, dry and windy.

Producers could cut their per-acre costs by putting in place improved wheat production techniques, but they’d still lose money on the crop. All this comes at a time when President Trump continues to deny climate change. Luckily the USA only produces about 8% of the world’s wheat. And even luckier, we only use 100% British wheat in our fabulous breads. So don’t panic, Mr Mainwaring!