The power of bread – let us eat politics

Well, something of the power of bread I have to admit today. Old friend Myron Syms – a master baker in Cheticamp – whom I have known since the 70’s long before either of settled in Cape Breton, AND my mother in the States BOTH sent me links to this article:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/21/bread-politics

This is a very level headed article. But it is true and part of the reason little political rants and faux pas keep infiltrating into this blog (and why I made another one as an outlet to keep those topics away from this blog!). The fact is that basic things like our food supply are important and have widespread influence on nearly all aspects of our culture. We just happen to live in a society where, although there is abundance of no end of ‘news’ from all sorts of official and unofficial sources, there is very little opportunity for either in-depth analysis or intelligent, informed discussion about key issues.

Some people think this is because we are controlled on high by secret elites pulling the strings and limiting discussion by distracting us with mainstream press which they own. Others think it’s just always been this way but each period in history is slightly different so each successive generation gradually has to figure things out as they mature in their own way. I have no idea myself. But I do wish we hadn’t decimated rural culture in my lifetime, that’s for sure. I don’t care who or what is to blame in terms of pointing fingers, I just wish we all could understand what it is and fix it.

But I’m not holding my breath!

Meanwhile, talking of bread but not politics, this French Road Bakery is about to ramp up into twice-a-week summer production, which is a bit punishing for this fifty-something year old. But in the past two days I have come to a major realisation about the upcoming season, partly based on a nice old buddhist slogan: ‘Change your attitude and relax into things as they are.” In my case this summer, rather than trying to boost sales by boosting volume, rather I am just going to explore the craft further. Rather than playing around with lots of different recipes, instead I’ll be playing around with quite a few different starter culture techniques, some slow-cold fermented with salt, some without, some with combined flours, some 3-day retarded in fridge doughs, stuff like that. So I might have 2-3 white loaves with the same basic flour contents, but different starter and processing techniques, things like that.

I hope my customers enjoy it, but in any case, I am now very much looking forward to this summer whereas until a couple of days ago I was somewhat dreading it.

I wonder if changing our society, even our so-called ‘politics’ isn’t really just as simple as changing our attitude about ourselves and society. There really isn’t any great problem with anything on some level; it’s all fine just as it is. But at the same time, that’s only true if we start where we are now and then go forward properly rather than just doing the same old bad stuff. Each moment is an opportunity for a fresh start.

Each bake is brand new, each sourdough culture is brand new, each loaf coming out of the oven is brand new, only hours old.

We could have brand new ‘politics’ in an instant.The only thing holding us back is entrenched attitudes……

Maybe the title of this thread should have been: ‘the power of politics – let us eat bread!’

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