Sitting down with Louisa Ziane, Toast COO, at the Toast Ale 'Breadquarters' we ask the question: "what's the big deal with surplus bread?", how tackling food waste can affect the climate crisis and the bigger picture of social impact issues. A bottle of Toast really is a message in a bottle.
Homethings: So, what's the deal with surplus bread?
Toast: The issue starts with our food system. Producing food has a huge impact on the planet; it's responsible for 80% of deforestation, 70% of the fresh water we use and about a quarter of all green house gas emissions. So, our food system is one of the biggest contributors to climate change and bio-diversity loss. But, we are wasting 1/3 of everything that we produce. Bread in the UK is one of the most wasted food items, about 44% of all the bread ever baked is never eaten. So – we found out you can use bread to produce beer.
Homethings: Why is food waste such a problem?
Toast: If you think about how much resource goes into growing our food, natural resources (land, water) but also Human Resources (the time it takes the farmer to grow, process). So much love goes into producing these loaves of sourdough bread and for a baker it's painful to have loaves leftover that would otherwise be thrown away. It's one of those products that is wasted at every level – from overstocked supermarkets, bakeries producing too much, from our home when we don't get through the whole loaf. A lot is thrown away. So if you think about all that effort and natural resources that have gone into that bread, to then throw it away...but it's also a delicious and simple way to solve a problem. Reducing food waste came out at number 3 as one of the biggest ways we can help climate change.
Homethings: Do you see food waste and the climate crisis as going hand in hand?
Toast: Food waste is one of the challenges for climate change – all of the emissions that go into producing food in the first place but then if the food is not properly composted, if it sits in landfill, then it emits Methane. So the rotting of food is contributing to greenhouse gasses. Beyond climate change and all the environmental issues that are so interlinked, we also have deeper biodiversity losses – which are caused by destruction of habitats, and a lot of that is caused by us having to clear land to grow crops or creating monocultures. Addressing food waste is a way of tackling a multitude of environmental challenges.