London 2012 Olympics’ big bread bloomer

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Real Bread Campaign believes that, by ignoring Campaign recommendations, London 2012 organizer LOCOG has let down small independent food businesses, games visitors and Londoners in general.

In summer 2009, the Real Bread Campaign made a submission to LOCOG’s food standards consultation process1. None of the recommendations appears in ‘Food vision for the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games’2. Despite setting standards for may other food types, and outlining the challenge of serving 14 million meals during the Games and 25,000 loaves in the athletes’ village alone3, LOCOG has not set any standards for bread or baked goods.

Missed opportunity

Real Bread Campaign Coordinator Chris Young said ‘This is a huge missed opportunity for the Games to have given London a lasting loaf legacy of Real Bread. Why did they choose not to support the creation of skilled jobs at small, local, independently owned bakeries? How could they simply ignore this staple of our diet when they have set standards for chocolate and cheese?’

In July 2012, the Campaign asked Jan Matthews, LOCOG’s Head of Catering, what percentage of loaves served will meet one or more of the following criteria: produced by independently-owned SME bakeries; baked from scratch in a London borough; made without the use of any artificial additives or processing aids; or be choices that are representative of the cultural diversity of Londoners, London bakeries, and our Olympics guests. Her reply was ‘sorry, we can’t provide that information.’

Additive-laced burger buns

Recently, LOCOG boasted of 'sourdough bread from Tower Hamlets made in a traditional brick oven lined with peat from the Thames' being served during the Olympics4.

Chris Young said: ‘We love the idea that everyone attending the Games would have the chance to enjoy such Real Bread, but we believe this is really just PR spin. Given that both the Games’ Head of Catering and press office have avoided our questions, we strongly suspect that only a handful of VIPs will have the opportunity. The rest of us will probably have few choices other than additive-laced burger buns from a grinning clown.’

The Londoners’ Loaf

To help compensate for the Games’ apparent lack of support for small London bakeries, the Campaign has joined forces with London Food Link’s Jellied Eel magazine to find the capital’s favorite Real Bread. People can find The Londoners’ Loaf competitors and vote at

Part of Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, the Real Bread Campaign champions locally-produced, 100% additive-free loaves, and finds ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet. Membership of the Real Bread Campaign is open to everyone who cares about the state of bread in Britain.

What I find very worrying is also that, basically, the only “food” permitted to be consumed, we understand, will be “food” from the sponsors, such as McDonalds.

Also, so it is understood, that no one wearing clothing branded with the logos of other companies which are not sponsors of the 2012 London Olympics will be permitted into the grounds.

The Games have been so commercialized that, in my opinion, it is no longer fun and it is millions of miles away from what they had been relaunched for in the early part of the 20th century.

Aside from that they have, in London, as in other cities before, such as Athens and Barcelona, many established (minority) communities by forcibly relocating them well away from the Olympic venues to keep them out of sight.

And, to top it all, London, and we are talking here basically the entire London area, has been turned into an armed camp for the duration of the Games. Or are the games being used as a pretext for continuing this armed occupation of the British capital. One can, I guess, but wonder.

The Olympic Games have been turned into a sham and a commercial sponsor free for all. It definitely is not benefiting London and the UK at all as, to it would appear, also the ordinary tourists have stayed away this year and, instead of giving hoteliers and others a boost it is doing the opposite. So much for all the benefits the Games were going to bring.

© 2012

1 The Real Bread Campaign’s 2009 submission to LOCOG’s London 2012 Food Vision consultation:

Procurement of locally-baked Real Bread for the London 2012 Olympic Games

Greater London boasts an almost unrivalled variety of specialist bakers of the traditional breads of dozens of countries and cultures. Procurement of this staple food from a number of such bakeries will allow the London 2012 Olympic Games to reflect not only the baking heritage of the host nation but also the diversity of London food culture.

Supply of 100% natural breads from independent local bakeries will ensure the provision of genuinely fresh, high-quality, authentic versions of breads to cater for the diversity of taste preferences of athletes, guests, staff and spectators alike. Providing a valuable link between the London 2012 Games and local business, the arrangement will reduce food miles and provide a peerless showcase for local independent bakeries.