Le pisse de resistance? French engineer bakes bread using women’s urine from public toilets
A group of scientists in France are part of a wider movement who take the adage ‘waste not, want not’ to a whole new extreme, advocating the use of human urine to fertilize crops.
According to their latest research, some 29 million baguettes of bread could be produced daily using wheat fertilized by human urine, or roughly 10 times the current daily consumption. By switching to urine-fertilized wheat, they claim farmers could save 703 tonnes of nitrogen used in artificial fertilizers on a daily basis.
Enter engineer and self-professed ‘ecofeminist’ Louise Raguet, the brains behind the ‘Boucle d’Or’, or Goldilocks bread.
Far from a poor roll model, Raguet hopes to “break taboos over excrement” and create a more sustainable food and farming system which makes use of human refuse, while cutting farming costs and boosting crop yields.
“Urine is a great fertilizer,” Raguet said. “It’s a neglected liquid, usually dismissed as a waste product. But it is packed with nutrients and should be treated like a gold mine. It’s ideal to replace chemical fertilizers and avoid the pollution they cause.”
Plants normally extract nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium from the soil, but human urine also contains these nutrients.
Raguet took the pee from female urinals in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, near the Cour des Grands Voisins, in Montparnasse.
“People do not really know what is going on behind the toilet. Everything must disappear as if by magic, everything is hidden,” Raguet said. “When you pee in water, treatment plants remove the nutrients. They do not return to the earth. The system is not circular.”
Raguet is a proponent of ‘ecofeminism’, which advocates using environmentally friendly products to empower women, including her female urinal, nicknamed Marcelle, which she says also helps to reduce queues for women’s bathrooms at public events.
Urine, unlike feces, doesn’t contain bacteria and the urine is diluted 20 times before it is sprayed on the crops used in Raguet’s bizarre baking.
The pee can be stored for three months as it is sterile when expelled from the body. There is no word on how the bread tastes.
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