The Loop: Breadheads

David Cameron in a bread factory
Image caption "No thanks, I brought my own"

Welcome to The Loop, the Magazine's letters column, including the best of your thoughts from Twitter and Facebook.

Spoiler alert: This article discusses spoilers and does not end happily

How much, then, does a loaf of bread cost to make? This week, when asked this standard "Are you in touch?" question, the UK prime minister David Cameron said he did not know because he bakes his own bread using a breadmaker.

So how much does it cost to bake one's own bread, we mused. After some comings and goings we settled on a figure of about 42p, compared to a supermarket economy loaf of 47p.

But that was not everyone's slice of toast. Uncle Hoover of Cwm Deri, writes: "I do hope you've added in the cost of actually baking the loaf to the home-made one and added the cost of going to shops and the inevitable chocolate impulse buy at the checkout for the Tesco one. You have to be fair don't you?"

Tim Sage from Southsea is among those wondering why we did not include an estimation of the cost of the energy involved in the baking. "Please let me know the power supply company which supplied you with free fuel for baking your bread - I will swap suppliers immediately," he writes archly.

And Ian Koszalinksi adds an extra level of variable: "Your article doesn't take into account the number of slices you get from your own baked loaf - they will be thicker, limiting the number of sandwiches you can make so won't go as far as the shop bought loaf, our experience is that two home baked loafs = one shop bought loaf."

But the most assiduous pedantry comes from Sharon Jenkins of Cookham, Berks: "At the risk of sounding pedantic (!), the initial outlay on the machine needs to be considered. This cost will, of course, reduce relative to the number of loaves of bread you make - however, at £100 per machine, a user would need to make just under 213 loaves of bread to offset the equivalent purchase cost of value loaves (i.e. you could buy 213 loaves of value bread for the cost of one breadmaker). Having made your 213 loaves, the unit cost of each of your loaves would still need to include the baking costs in addition to the ingredients - this would be electric costs for running the breadmaker through the kneading/proving/baking cycle, which would increase the unit cost of a loaf, probably to in excess of 47p due to relatively high energy costs. Another consideration is that the 47p price of the value loaf is the sale price rather than the cost (production) price; it's reasonable to expect that a supermarket is able to produce the loaf for considerably less than the sale price to provide for a profit margin, and is able to do so due to economies of scale. So, overall, the production costs of one home-made loaf are likely to be higher than the production and sale prices of the equivalent value loaf. The reality of the social situation however, is that when money is tight, the value loaf will be the enforced choice of those who are of poorer means. The reality of the world is that as our disposable income increases, we firstly spend more on what we consider to be higher quality (or our preferred) staple items, and eventually purchase luxury items. I'm pretty sure very few millionaires buy value bread, but I'll bet a good number have breadmakers."

Incidentally the exclamation mark in her first sentence was hers, not ours.

Colin Trevorrow from Burscough, Lancs, isn't buying it at all. "David Cameron bakes his own bread? Sure he does. He does all the plumbing in Number Ten and fixes all the cars he gets driven around in. Sometimes you can find him on the roof fixing the tiles."

Citizen journalism

Image caption Some United Empire Loyalists

We've had some reactions this week to our tales of people who decide, for many different reasons, to give up citizenship of varying shades. Greg from Ottawa brings a different perspective though. "Some of my ancestors gave up their American citizenship years ago, actually during the American Revolution. Living in what is now New York State they moved to Upper Canada to remain loyal to King and country, rather than join in a revolt that would split the empire. They along with many others became known as United Empire Loyalists and many of their descendants are now known as Canadians."

Perhaps it was the bread which made the difference.

Spoilt ending

Finally, as promised, a discussion of spoilers. We asked why people feel it's OK to reveal plot details, though it's fair to say that some members of Team Magazine feel it's their duty to share the most up-to-date details of plots in the interests of fostering zeitgeist.

Thomas writes: "Your article struck me as particularly ironic given that your own BBC website has published spoilers, in prominent, easily clickable positions, for Breaking Bad and Bridget Jones, both of which the article mentions."

Image caption "What? Nigel Pargeter fell off the roof?"

Stephen Repacholi from Oxford: "I completely agree with you about the point of unnecessary plot revelations. I saw the Bridget Jones revelation at the gym yesterday on the news, and thought that nobody would want to see/read it now that they knew a major character had disappeared. I told my wife last night that if I went into Room 101, it would be to reveal my major pet peeve with television shows that insist on telling me what happens in the next episode. There is a lightning scramble to find the remote at the end of the show. They don't even go straight to the credits anymore, they insist on telling us what happens next week. "

Graham Stone from Leek is even crosser. "The day after your article, the BBC news page announces TWO major Eastenders plot twists? Why bother making the programme at all, just publish the juicy bits and let viewers imagine the rest?"

And Mike Campbell from Darlington adds: "Worse still are the previews we get for comedies where all the best jokes are either shown or half-shown... destroying any comedic timing/surprise.

But as we indicated in a tempting teaser at the start of this discussion, not everyone feels the same way. Stephen Booth, for instance, who writes on our Facebook page: "It annoys me that people get so wound up about spoilers. Get a life or get out of mine!"

NEXT WEEK IN THE LOOP: Geoff from Swindon gives pithy comments about a very surprising turn of events and Candace from New Jersey adds a bon mot to a timely discussion of events.

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