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Drop Your Toast! Bread Is Not Healthy for the Environment

Mar 02, 2017 11:11 AM EST
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Wheat Bread
Ammonium nitrate fertilizer accounts for the 43 percent of the carbon footprint of an 800-gram loaf.
(Photo : Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

Bread may be good for your health, but not for the environment.

A study, published in the journal Nature Plants, examined the environmental impact of a loaf of bread and found out that it is contributing as much to the pressing issue that is global warming.

The team, led by Liam Goucher of the University of Sheffield's Advanced Resource Efficiency Centre in the U.K., found out that every 800 grams of whole grain bread manufactured in the U.K. produces the equivalent of 0.589 kilograms of carbon dioxide.

The team was able to determine where in the phase of bread production the warming footprint is occurring the most by breaking down the bread-making process, Cosmos Magazine notes. Results show that the impact comes not from the food processing itself but from the wheatfield.

The wheat, needed to produce bread, needs Ammonium nitrate fertilizer to grow fast. Based on their calculations, Ammonium nitrate fertilizer accounts for the 43 percent of the carbon footprint of an 800-gram loaf of bread.

Read Also: Love Carbs? Scientists Discover a Sixth Sense That Explains Humans' Preference for Starchy Food  

Intensive farming argues that without fertilizer, less food will be produced. And so, the price we have to pay is global warming.

Other steps of the process that had environmental impacts include the tilling of the soil, harvesting and irrigation. All processes require the use of machines, which releases pollution into the air. The operation of the mill and the bakery were also deemed to be energy-intensive.

The study highlights how we need to think of a way to produce more food with less waste and pollution if we want to achieve sustainable food production for the years to come.

"Consumers are usually unaware of the environmental impacts embodied in the products they purchase - particularly in the case of food, where the main concerns are usually over health or animal welfare," Goucher said in a press release obtained by Phys.org.

"There is perhaps awareness of pollution caused by plastic packaging, but many people will be surprised at the wider environmental impacts revealed in this study," he added.

Read Also: Heat Stress, Infectious Diseases and Mental Health Threats: The Human Dangers of Climate Change 

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