Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Bread for October 18

I am hoping to have cranberry-walnut this week, at least a few of them. I will also have Country French in both the rounds and the sandwich style, dark rye, semolina, and sprouted grain.

I noticed an article this week about Pantera, the massive corporate "artisan style" bakery. They are releasing the ingredients of their breads, which doesn't seem like a big deal to me but apparently is. They are trying to ease people's concerns about bread, and advertising the "healthy" ingredients of at least some of their breads.

I have such mixed feelings about all of this. Of course I think people should be able to know what is in the food they buy, and this information is always available from me. It's pretty easy: all my breads contain flour, salt, water, and whatever additives are totally obvious. For example, the cranberry-walnut bread has flour, salt, water, cranberries, and walnuts. I don't use any preservatives of any kind in my breads, and nearly everything is sourdough (the only non-sourdough breads are certain of my baguettes, some holiday breads, and challah). There is no sugar in any of the breads I sell to the public except some holiday breads. (Pastries . . . are a different matter.) There is also small amount of molasses in the dark rye.

I am hoping to move to 100 percent organic flours by the beginning of the year. These are more expensive, but the per-loaf price isn't too bad, and I prefer to use organic flours.

Now, the mixed feelings come in when it concerns trying to advance bread as some kind of "health" food. I believe that bread is a healthy food, but not a "health" food, and trying to make it a health food does all kinds of mischief. I just don't think bread is well designed to be a delivery-system for vitamins and all manner of ingredients. It's designed to accompany healthy ingredients, like vegetables for example, on a sandwich. Or soup. Bread makes other food taste better, and diversifies the eating experience. It provides calories and a bit of fiber, but not much else. However, I think if you eat my bread, you will eat better naturally. It's so easy to throw a tomato and some lettuce on a slice of bread, and so easy to dunk it in soup. Any time you are eating real food over packaged and processed food, you are taking a forward step.

The other problem with this kind of marketing is, by telling customers you are making your bread particularly healthy, you are suggesting there is something wrong with it in its normal, simple form (as in my Country French). Bread has been so savagely maligned and disparaged in the past ten or fifteen years! I do not make a practice of telling people what is going on in their own bodies, so I am agnostic on the "gluten-intolerance" diagnosis that has swept our nation, but I will say that per-capita bread consumption has gone down a great deal since the mid 1900s in this country, and it has fallen a staggering amount since the 19th century, when many in the western world got more than half their calories from bread. It seems to me if we want to locate a culprit for a recent malady, we should be looking at foods that are being consumed more than in the past, not less.

Anyway, I am no marketer but I think a superior campaign would be, "Eat More and Better Bread."

See you on Main Street on Thursday from 5-7 (or until we sell out, which does happen sometimes).

--Erik Ryberg

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