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VUB professor’s book is a slice of life through the ages

New publication shows that the history of bread is the history of everything

For a long time, everything in our region revolved around bread. In his book Brood: Een geschiedenis van bakkers en hun brood (Bread: A History of Bakers and their Bread), VUB historian Peter Scholliers explores a series of decisive moments and people, because, as he says: “The history of bread is in fact the history of everything.”

In the middle of the 19th century, a third of household expenditure was spent on bread. Bread also provided more than half of people’s daily calories. Today it accounts for only 0.8% of family expenditure and 12% of daily calories. Changes in agriculture, transport, production, policy and consumption explain these figures.

Scholliers researched the history of bread and mapped out the defining moments and the people behind them: from the price revolution around 1890 that resulted in affordable and pure white bread, to the taste revolution around 1990 that resulted in affordable and healthy brown bread. He studies consumers, bakers and governments. He talks about prices, consumption, profit margins, fraudulent bakers, convection ovens, additives, shift work, factories, wages, legislation and much more. Finally, Scholliers pays tribute to the small home baker who puts tasty and healthy bread on the table every day.