Scotland the Bread

Andrew Whitley of Bread Matters - one of the Spirit of Scotland award nominees in the food section.
Andrew Whitley of Bread Matters - one of the Spirit of Scotland award nominees in the food section.
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Border baker Andrew Whitley has been nominated in this year’s Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award, for inspiring a generation to make, buy and eat better bread.

The artisan baker, teacher and campaigner, credited with changing the way Britain thinks about bread, is one of four finalists facing a public, online vote in the Food category.

Whitley, who moved to Peeblesshire to co-found the Breadshare Community Bakery at Whitmuir Farm near Lamancha, said:“I’m honoured to be in the reckoning.

“I hope it means nominees contributed to the enjoyment and understanding of their sector. It’s been my life’s work trying to apply that to our daily bread.

“My job is to try to create enough outrage in how our bread and food system is working, so people can rise up and do it differently – that’s where our teaching comes in.”

As a programme-maker for the BBC World Service in the Soviet Union, he became aware of the misuse of chemicals in agriculture. Leaving Russia in 1976, he founded one of Britain’s leading organic bakeries, the Village Bakery in Melmerby, Cumbria.

Departing the bakery 26 years later, Andrew wrote his first book Bread Matters – Why And How To Make Your Own, which has been described as a bible for real bread and a searing critique of commercial baking.

In 2008 he co-founded the Real Bread Campaign, which aims to bring good bread to every neighbourhood in the country.

Talking about his second book, DO Sourdough; Slow Bread for Busy Lives, he said: “Sourdough seemed to be the remedy to intolerances, to the problems raised by fast-made industrial bread, which is just made to be cheap and convenient.

“It’s ludicrous to have a food system based on additives that have no role in human nutrition.”

He still teaches at his home near West Linton and at Breadshare, which bakes real, artisan bread using organic, local ingredients.

Recently he launched Scotland the Bread: a collaboration between scientists, farmers, millers and bakers to develop a healthy and fair Scottish wheat, flour and bread supply.

“Bread is not the stuff of life any more,” he explains. “Changes in the last 50 to 100 years moved bread from something healthy to a possible cause of indigestion. We need to work on every level to make things better.”

You can vote online at www.glenfiddich.com/uk/explore/spirit-of-scotland.