Not Store Bought

Self-control is strength. Calmness is mastery. You have to get to a point where your mood doesn’t shift based on the insignificant actions of someone else. Don’t allow others to control the direction of your life. Don’t allow emotions to overpower your intelligence. –James Allen

So what is trending these days? Opinions appear to swirl with the latest and coolest flavors of the week. Why are we so easily seduced by “that next shiny thing” or swayed by the empty distractions of our consumerist society? “Don’t allow emotions to overpower your intelligence.”

While packaging bread for Ruth’s Harvest, one of our volunteers (I will call her Mary) shared a touching “bread story” from her youth. Mary’s story illustrates how the color of bread becomes a marker of socio-economic status. White bread became a fashionable expression and symbol of modernity for industrial progress. In short time, the science of white flour (along with refined white sugar) stubbornly inserted itself into the American diet and helped to fuel the Green Revolution of the 1950s. An anomaly from an earlier era, Sylvester Graham was a staunch advocate and evangelist for maintaining whole grains in the American diet. Milling technology continued to press forward (with hammer & roller mills), and allowed the miller to completely separate the bran and germ from the wheat berry. Ironically, the most nutritious by-products of the milling process (bran & germ) are labeled for animal consumption (hurray for the animals, but not so for us humans!).

Food production on Mary’s Fairfield family farm played a more benign role for the chores that were assigned each day of the week, the month and throughout the seasons. Baking bread was one of the chores labeled, “weekly” which supplied the entire family with fresh, homemade, yeasted bread. Little did Mary know that when she pulled her sandwich from her lunch box, that snickers and sly remarks would fill the cafeteria. Mary reddened, and quickly slipped her sandwich onto her lap under her desk. School children occasionally can be cruel. It’s usually from ignorance; adult exemplars or plain old just don’t know any better. “You have to get to a point where your mood doesn’t shift based on the insignificant actions of someone else.”

Mary went on to explain that in her day, “Baker’s Bread” was a popular brand that made its way into many households. Mary’s farm bread was fresh, coarser in texture and darker in color and appeared homemade rather than store bought. It begins to sound a bit racist–a sandwich bread that looks different, browner, darker and not white. Really? Perhaps this is less so since people are beginning to experience the benefits of a whole grain diet. Little did Mary and her family imagined that today her lunchtime sandwich would be considered in the vanguard of nutritional coolness! At the time, it was what you did to feed your family–local ingredients, locally crafted from a traditional Pennsylvania farm. “Don’t allow others to control the direction of your life.” As a baker, I’d like to believe that eating whole grains is more than a market trend or the latest coolest flavor, and more of a sincere expression of progressive restoration. Hmm… “Not Store Bought” does have a nice ring to it!

We invite you to take a moment and jot down your favorite “bread story” or recipe and submit it to Bakewell Farm. If we get enough submissions, we will host a “Story Bake-Off” that will showcase your baked and (hopefully a few) half-baked stories!

Marc Jalbert, Founding Director of Bakewell Farm, a 501c3 non-profit whose mission is to promote “bread-centric” educational programs for building community while engaged in the practice of public service. Please visit us at: www.bakewellfarm.org