CEREAL is a new series uncovering the secrets behind the bread we eat and the farmers, millers and bakers working together to create alternative models for the future of food production and farming.

Bread has become complicated. From just three ingredients – flour, water and salt – to a whole host of short-cuts and additional agents, oils and additives. Industrial bread production has turned a staple food into a poor – and nutritionally impoverished –imitation of itself. Modern wheat varieties have been bred for uniformity and bulk, not for nutrition, nor for resilience.

A critical series for anyone who eats food, CEREAL asks how the industrial food system has come to dictate the way that seeds are bred, grain is grown, flour is milled, bread is baked, and possibly even eaten? And what impact has this had on producers, consumers and the environment.

It uses our humble bread as a lens to explore our food system and how radical changes have impacted our relationship with food, farmers, the land and each other.

As farmers sow the seeds for next year’s grain harvest, Farmerama’s Katie Revell has travelled the country to speak with the people building alternative models fit for the future – ones which benefit natural ecosystems, our soils, the livelihoods of farmers and our guts.

She learned that a growing number of British farmers (both organic and conventional) are becoming disillusioned with modern wheat varieties and commodity crops, and are discovering the benefits of growing heritage varieties, or ‘populations’, using regenerative agriculture methods. Artisan bakers too, are joining the movement to support them.

Katie says, “This series aims to inform, provoke and inspire. We want consumers to stop and think the next time they’re buying a loaf of bread, a bag of flour or a tonne of grain. We’d like them to take a moment to imagine the stories behind that product, and start to ask themselves: how is this affecting the health of people and planet?”

“In equal measure, we hope CEREAL will help chemical farmers see that there is demand for more ecological cereal farming and there’s a whole network of people creating new models, with support throughout the supply network.”

With the United Nations warning there’s, ‘Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues’, it’s never been more crucial to re-evaluate the relationship between farming, food, our health and our climate.

Katie adds, “There needs to be real systemic change in our food system. Multiple retailers and supermarkets have been very successful in driving a wedge between consumers and producers. It’s created a disconnect whereby consumers no longer know – and therefore value – how our food is grown, and who it’s grown by.

For farmers to benefit, we need to move toward a system that is producing value not volume; smaller food on a human scale; and one that moves away from commodity markets and a narrow focus on yield, and toward value, relationships, human scale.”

CEREAL tells the stories of those at the centre of a new grains movement where soil health, human health, and cereal diversity are prioritised, ensuring grains are more resilient in a time of climate crisis.

Click here to listen to the series.


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