Bread has existed in every culture for millennia, actually for as long as agricultural practices have emerged, and as such has sustained the development of humankind since its earliest stages. It obviously has the longest track record of a product that supports the human development, both socially and economically, with minimum environmental impact, and without jeopardizing the next generations’ ability to support their own live and needs. Bread is quite literally, one of the main foundations of human civilization.
Bread is still today called to be a key pillar of the food chains and food habits sustainability. To some extent, one can wonder if the questions put on current food systems’ sustainability are not the result of a relative weakening of Bread in human diet that occurred over the last decades. It is so intrinsically embedded in human nutrition that one may overlook the fact that it brings some fundamental answers to the contemporary quest for more sustainable food systems: it is indeed the most genuine form of consumption of vegetables. The benefits of bread in this sustainability context derive largely from the fermentation process that is at the core of bread-making, and which mobilise cereal nutrients in an unmatched way, making them optimally available to digestion. Bread is not only tasty and nutritionally satisfying, but it is one of the best ways to optimize the use of the nutrients contained in cereals.
If one takes the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a compass, like many private and public actors do, one can see that Bread brings very significant contribution to many of them. For instance, it strongly supports the “Zero Hunger” goal (through the supply of quality product at affordable price), the “Good Health & Wellbeing” one (through the bread nutrition profile and giving aces to whom grain) or the “Responsible Consumption and Production” one (through responsible sourcing and valuation of cereals), to name just a few.
Like for any human activity, Bread is not exempt from environmental impact. Contemporary approaches, like local sourcing, or tools, like LCAs (Life Cycle Analysis), provide opportunities for innovations, so as to maintain and reinforce Bread as the mean of choice to feeding the growing human population in a sustainable way, while respecting culture and delivering gastronomic satisfaction.