Giant naan, swan nutrition, and why bread conquers fear
As usual, the world of artisan bakery and gorgeous frozen breads has plenty to offer in the way of news. This time we’re exploring the curious phenomenon of bread as a cure for extreme stress, make an appeal on behalf of the nation’s swans, and reveal what’s happened to the cost of a simple school packed lunch. Here’s the news.
Scared to death? Eat a roll
Our first story originates in exotic Mexico City, where a magnitude 7.7 earthquake took place in September last year. One cafe owner in the town of Huasteca instinctively grabbed 50 white bread rolls called bolillos and began to give them out to the terrified townspeople. This is, apparently, a tradition: if you feel scared, eat a bolillo and the fear fades away. It might be bad news, an accident or an earthquake alert, but eating ‘un bolillo p’al susto’, which means ‘a roll for the fright’ makes everything feel better.
A bolillo is a long oval roll cut longitudinally, crunchy and golden on the outside and soft inside. It’s eaten as an offering of peace and calm, a bit like communion bread, but the effect isn’t just superstition – it’s a science thing.
As one researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico says, acute stress messes with our nervous system, making our breathing and heartbeat go much faster. This makes us feel hungry. Because bolillos are rich in carbohydrate they neutralises the acid we produce in our stomachs when we’re scared. And the simple act of chewing distracts us from the terror, reducing our agitation so we feel in control again.
The cost of school packed lunches has almost doubled
Cheese and tomato prices have shot up more than 160%. Bread prices have gone up by around 121%. Yoghurt costs about 135% more than it used to. Crisps are up 86%. And that means the total cost of a simple packed lunch has almost doubled according to the people at Starling Bank.
Gygnet suffering from malnutrition
A baby swan called Elvis, who has been fed bread by well-meaning people, has come down with Angel Wing, a disease water birds get from being malnourished. Elvis has a nasty case, brought about by eating too many carbs and sugars thanks to its ‘unhealthy’ diet of white bread. The illness means their feathers and wings don’t form properly and if it isn’t treated, they can’t fly.
Experts say swans usually eat grass, small fish, frogs and worms. While it’s Ok to feed birds a small amount of bread, if you want to feed water fowl properly they recommend healthy grains and seeds, vegetables like lettuce, sweetcorn, peas, carrot and potato peelings, or special swan and duck pellets from the supermarket. Just remember to throw the food into the water so the birds stay safely off dry land.
Climate change threatens bread flour production
People in the know say bread is at risk from climate change thanks to soaring temperatures in the UK. Wheat crops are already struggling because of a series of unusually dry periods, and the pests and diseases this hotter weather brings are a bigger risk to crops than ever. Take fungal wheat blast, a disease that bleaches the grain’s head. It’s already prowling British farms. The same goes for bread wheat grown in China and the US, which are also suffering from unprecedented heat.
The study’s lead scientist Professor Erin Coughlan de Perez says people tend to underestimate the potential for extreme weather events. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change agrees, revealing how the average global surface temperature in the last 10 years was 1.1 degrees higher than it was from 1850 to 1900. The research technique used by the team is called UNSEEN, which stands for Unprecedented Simulated Extreme Ensemble and lets experts estimate risk of extreme heat affecting the growth of wheat and other crops.
On the bright side, at Speciality Breads we’re doing everything we possibly can to be the most sustainable wholesale bakery in the UK, making the smallest possible impact on the climate.
The biggest naan in Cambridge
As Kent bread suppliers, we admit to being a teeny bit envious. We’re seriously impressed with the enormous naan breads made by Shelford Spice in Cambridge, billed as the city’s biggest naan at 45cm across and yours in either standard or garlic flavour. Worth the journey…
Great frozen artisan breads – born in Kent
As a favourite frozen bakery supplier to the foodservice sector, we send our beautiful wholesale artisan bread all around the nation. Click below to try them for yourself. It won’t cost you a penny.