The Return of Sourdough Rye Bread: Five reasons why you need to learn how to make rye sourdough bread to adapt to climate change

I know what you’re thinking: “How is a fermentation method ever going to make a difference in my survival of climatic changes?” That’s exactly what I will tell you. People who know how to make sourdough rye will have a big survival advantage over people who don’t, for the following reasons:

Reason one: Sourdough Rye Bread is higher in protein

Rye as a flour is higher in protein content than wheat.1 Rye has sixteen gram of protein per 100 gram. Wheat has only thirteen gram of protein per 100 gram. In addition, rye has a higher protein efficiency ratio than wheat.2 This is because rye is higher in lysine than wheat, lysine being the limiting amino acid in cereal grains.

So how about fermentation? Fermentation is incredibly important, because the bacteria in sourdough increase the protein content of the dough. After all, a bacteria has to grow itself. To do this, it has to synthesize proteins. Bacteria use the starch in flour as their energy source for this, which is good, because the flour has starch in abundance.

Studies find that protein content increases in Maize and Sorghum when fermented with lactic acid bacteria.3 After one week of treatment with Lactobacillus Brevis, protein content of Maize increased from 10.2% to 13.6%. In Sorghum, protein content increased from 15.1%, to 18.4%. Bacteria also chop up large protein chains and turn them into smaller protein bits, which makes the protein easier to absorb for our bodies. Notable here is that the study mentions that the amino acid Lysine increased a lot. This is the amino acid we earlier discussed as a limiting amino acid in our diet.

But why should you care about protein in your diet in the first place? The limiting element in your diet in the future is not going to be total calories, but rather, protein content. Studies find that protein content in our crops decreased by 20% when atmospheric CO2 concentrations increase.4 CO2 concentrations today are already much higher than before the industrial revolution, so chances are that the protein content of our cereals is already lower than it was when we started to genetically adapt to cereal grains as the main portion of our diet.

You might think that Rye has no real place in the future, because Rye is a cold-adapted plant, but you’d be wrong. Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations increase winter temperatures, but also have the effect of making plants far more vulnerable to the effects of low temperatures. For many species, a doubling of CO2 increases the temperature at which they start freezing by about 1.5 degree Celsius. Thus, cold-resistant plants will still be necessary in many locations, even if winters there become less cold.

Reason two: Sourdough rye bread is easier to preserve.

Food preservation is difficult without continual access to electricity. Worse, studies find that higher CO2 concentrations increase the amount of toxic mycoproteins that some harmful molds produce.

Sourdough is colonized by bacteria and fungi that live there. They have no interest in competing organisms invading their habitat. Thus, they produce chemical compounds that prevent infection. This increases the life expectancy of your sourdough bread. Sourdough increases the shelf-life of bread by somewhere between 12 and 14 days.5 When you have to bake bread, making sure you produce sourdough bread means you will find yourself throwing away less bread.

Reason three: Sourdough bacteria break down dangerous pesticides.

As our climate changes, our crops may suffer more from competition with fungi, insects and weeds. As a result, farmers may start using larger amounts of pesticides. It seems possible that Americans are already suffering effects of the excessive use of pesticides on food.

Well, this is where good news comes in. The bacteria in sourdough bread break down pesticides. One study found that pesticide concentration was reduced by 42% by lactic acid bacteria.6 Thus the lactic acid bacteria in sourdough bread will protect you against pesticide exposure.

Rye is also important, because rye needs less pesticides to grow than wheat. Rye needs less pesticides because it’s a hardier plant. It evolved as a weed, that grew in fields of wheat that humans grew, thus the plant is less demanding than wheat. In America, some pesticides are forbidden from being used against rye, that are allowed to be used when growing wheat.

Reason four: Sourdough bacteria makes harmful elements in food biologically unavailable

As humans continue using rock phosphate to produce fertilizer, arsenic, cadmium, uranium and other harmful chemicals are building up in our soils. Normally, bacteria exist in the soil that slowly and gradually make those elements biologically unavailable to absorb. When humans remove all plants and spray a variety of pesticides, we kill the organisms that live in the soil, thus they can’t do this important work. As a result, you have arsenic, cadmium, uranium and other harmful elements in your food.

What do the Lactic acid bacteria do? They perform the important task of making these chemical unavailable for your body to absorb. Lactic acid fermented soy milk has the effect of increasing cadmium excretion by rats, while decreasing the uptake of cadmium.7 The same effect is found on lead, as well as on arsenic and other harmful elements.8

Reason five: Sourdough bacteria remove harmful mycotoxins from your dough

When humans grow cereal grains, it’s quite common for the grain to be infected with parasitic fungi, which then produce mycotoxins that harm our health. Billions of dollars worth of crops are lost because of fungal strains like Fusarium graminearum that infect the grain plants. Studies find however, that Lactic acid bacteria can break down the mycotoxins found in food.9 One study found a 77% reduction in Fusarium mycotoxins, after just 24 hours of fermentation. Thus, while other people might get sick from particular flour, using sourdough fermentation with the same flour may mean that you do not suffer sickness.


Sourdough fermentation is an essential skill that you need to learn to adapt to the growing challenges we face as a result of resource depletion, climate change and associated problems. Knowing how to make sourdough bread will greatly increase your chances of survival.

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