Thursday, 10 November 2011

blessed are the bread makers

There’s a big discussion going on in our house and it’s all about bread. It started during my week of being a locavore, eating within Sussex, when I discovered that the artisan bread sold in Lewes is made from flour from the other side of England (plus at £3-ish a loaf, it’s expensive). During that week I started making sourdough bread from locally grown and milled flour. An authentic Lewes loaf.

But my children don’t like the sourdough. The crust is too hard and they don’t like the slightly sour taste. So I got a toaster from Freecycle, hoping that would entice them. But they’re still complaining and are now asking for lunch money on a daily basis, not feeling like eating the bread on offer. Despite being hardy in terms of my own food choices, I do sympathise. So we’ll probably continue with both artisan and sourdough, at least until I manage to make an acceptable loaf.

There are now four households cooking sourdough on a regular basis in my area of Lewes. We’ve started to wonder whether we should investigate building a community oven, much like the new one at Wowo campsite, which can hold 40 loaves at a time, maybe at Lewes New School? My friend Grace and I went to the brilliant Baking Communities event at the Town Hall last night. While munching on goodies spread on bread from our four artisan bakers – Flint Own, Lighthouse, The Real Patisserie and Infinity Bakers – we started to mull it over with a baker – Michael - who also builds bread ovens and helps groups of people learn about baking. I can’t wait to get started!
Later in the evening Andrew Whitley, author of the bread bible, Bread Matters, and Real Bread Campaign co-founder, described his vision of 25,000 bakeries (we currently have 3,000), supplying bread through all sorts of supply chains across the country. Real bread is a far cry from the industrially grown, Chorleywood process-enhanced bread that makes up most of our loaves in the UK. And it’s hard to see how a real bread culture can take off when so many people are still so wedded (or should I say addicted) to supermarkets.
But as Rob Hopkins says in this fascinating article about the connections between Transition and the Occupy movement, transition is about occupying our own lives, our own communities. Reclaiming abundance, skills and relationships back from the corporate sphere is something that we can each do in tiny steps. And bread is a good place to start.

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