Globally, we produce about 100 million tons of bread every year. But because bread gets stale or moldy fairly quickly, a substantial amount of this bread is wasted. Now, scientists have come up with a use for all this bread that would otherwise be wasted: use it to grow beneficial microbes.
The food industry depends on many types of beneficial microbes; they’re used in the production of things like bread, beer, wine, cheese, and yogurt. In this study, researchers created a special growing medium that contained 50% “waste bread” (called wasted bread medium). Using this nutrient-rich soup, they were able to grow several types of microbes involved in the production of wine and yogurt. Importantly, they estimated that, at least on a small scale, the wasted bread medium only cost about 30% as much as traditional formulas used to grow these microbes.
If this process can be scaled up, it means that stale bread — which would ordinarily be thrown away — could live a second life as food for microbes that churn out fermented foods (and drinks!) like wine and yogurt. This would help decrease food waste and perhaps even drop the cost of growing these beneficial microbes.