Ban Bread!

The Earth is in trouble and our carbon dioxide output is obviously to blame. I know this because Al Gore told me so.

We can fix the Earth and lose weight at the same time.

One of the oldest prepared foods and long called the “staff of life,” bread has been baked around the world for at least 30,000 years. Starch residue on rocks used for pounding plants some 30 millennia ago in Europe shows that prehistoric man ate flatbreads with no worries about carbon dioxide output.


Yeast devours sugar, then releases carbon dioxide bubbles and small amounts of ethyl alcohol. When the kneaded dough is baked, the heat from the oven forces the yeast into overdrive, which quintuples the rate at which carbon dioxide is produced.

The released carbon dioxide is responsible for bread rising.

Former Vice President Al Gore and Live Earth founder Kevin Wall have called for a 90% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions worldwide by mid-century. “Nations all over the world are making progress in tackling the climate crisis. But too many proposals fall short of the strong, decisive action that’s needed,” Mr. Gore said in 2007.

Victor Preedy, Ronald Ross Watson, Vinood Patel report in Flour and Breads and Their Fortification in Health and Disease Prevention that “Worldwide, bread is one of the most consumed foodstuffs.”

After extensive, even exhaustive 10 minutes of Internet research, I discovered very little statistical data on worldwide bread consumption where “very little” is actually a vanishingly small number approaching, well, zero. I did the next best thing. I asked and found that eating “a TON of bread each day” is the best answer — chosen by voters!

That seemed an order of magnitude or two over the top so I did the next best thing. I asked former North Puffin car dealer and Democratic party official, Mr. Paul “Buster” Door for his take. As a card-carrying member of the Far Green, Buster is always willing to chase assumptions around and around in his head until he comes up with an answer that sounds right.

“Well you see, Dick, it’s like this,” Buster said. “Man can live by bread alone but only the strongest do so. It is well known that prehistoric man ate flatbreads but it wasn’t until Bastet — she was that famed Egyptian foodie — invented yeast that bread sales really puffed up. The market expansion of bread swelled pretty much unencumbered for centuries but it suddenly plummeted in 18th Century Europe, particularly in France. The good news is that worldwide growth of yeast breads has risen back to a high of more than a pound per person per day now world-wide. And that’s why Frenchmen are 2.4 inches taller than they were in 1789.”

“Don’t forget,” Rufus added, “a pounder of beer is the equivalent of a pound of bread!”

The total population of humans is currently estimated to be 6.92 billion. “That’s on planet Earth,” Buster confirmed.

Earthlings release some 25 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. Plants like rice, wheat, and corn eat some of it but there is plenty left for free floating hyperbole in the atmosphere. That works out to about 6.9 million tons per day.

“A pound of bread is mostly hot air,” Al Gore who should know said. Fresh bread is baked daily in every nation, in every state, in every city, in every hamlet in the world. The production of that 3.46 million tons of daily bread releases something slightly less than 1 million tons of carbon dioxide each and every day.

And that doesn’t take into account the energy required for the great bakery ovens nor the fuel burned to truck the bread from bakery to store.

Mr. Gore and Mr. Wall have called for bakeries to buy carbon credits until engineers can develop commercial methods to eliminate the emission of this dangerous greenhouse gas from bread production.

“We’re looking at salt breads using salts recovered from water desalination plants in Qatar right now,” Mr. Wall said. “The technology is very promising.”

It is worth noting that each and every person in Qatar releases 44.8348 tons of carbon dioxide annually, more than twice the per capita output of Americans. We need to eat more bread to catch up!

Except we can’t.

The new Gore-Wall diet embraces a balanced intake from all the food groups but bans bread.

That’s it. Don’t eat bread. Save the planet. It’s only good science.

4 thoughts on “Ban Bread!

  1. Food consumption is expressed in kilocalories per capita per day by most agencies who measure and evaluate global and regional food evolution. FAOSTAT data shows that diets have been steadily improving on a worldwide basis. Calories per capita have increased by about 450 kcal per capita per day globally and by over 600 kcal per capita per day in developing countries.

    It is worth noting that biofuels such as corn used for automotive fuel have more than doubled global food prices. 15 years ago, only 5% of U.S. corn crops went into ethanol production; today, 25% is produced for ethanol. Corn prices are up 50% since last year alone. European countries have turned to the far cheaper sorghum for livestock feed which has driven sorghum prices up. Naturally, sorghum is widely consumed in the Third World.

    Transportation costs have done the same. A barrel of crude oil has risen again from the $60 range a year ago to almost double that, nearly $110 last week. $60 oil means it costs $38/ton to transport food from the U.S. to Europe and $60/ton to Japan. Today it costs $75/ton to Europe and $110/ton to Japan.

    Mr. Gore and Mr. Wall and the Far Green believe there is no increase in our Cost of Living associated with the grain choices we make.

  2. Ernest Rutherford wrote, “All science is either physics or stamp collecting.”

    Anybody have an 8-cent Einstein?

  3. This is a good posting, Dick. I was surprised to learn that Frenchmen are taller today than 200 years ago bcause of yeast bread. I always thought it was just better posture.

    Would that explain why Mexicans who eat tortillas are short and squatty — even when they sit up straight?

    As the French quote goes: “Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.” (Loosely translated: You are what you eat.)

    Or, in Jeffrey Dahmer’s case: You are WHO you eat.

    — George

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