Today we made bread in class. I made a bunch of homemade bread while I was in Maine, but I used a completely different recipe than the one Shauna had us try. I come from a stereotypical Pennsylvania Dutch community, similar to that of the Amish. We make all of our bread with melted butter instead of just water. I could defiantly taste the difference, and personally, believe my version was better, but it was nice to try something new.
A couple really good take-aways I got in order to up my bread game included using bread flower for the protein content, and decrease the temperature of the water for the yeast when it is hot outside in order to get a better rise. Most people don’t use specific bread flour when making bread because it is easier to use all-purpose flour instead. It is better to use specific bread flour for bread because the protein content actually makes the dough expand more than regular flour. This helps the bread to maintain a good shape that we expect from bakeries.
I also had a great time talking with Shauna. I didn’t know she was Canadian, but she talked a lot about the differences in our cultures, how that relates to bread, and how she ended up in the food studies program. I also was really excited to hear that she was going to be working on a bread oven at Eden Hall. It seems like a really good addition to the program.
I was really fascinated with what Shauna was doing with the bread kitchen in Braddock. Even though the area is in not a good state, little projects which bring together the community are great in helping those in need. Most people who live in poverty do not get access to fresh foods. Usually, we think of this as just fruits and vegetables, but fresh bread is just as important. In Nestle’s article about eating made simple, the same concepts come up as they did in her presentation at the conference for Women for a Healthy Environment. “Eat less, move more, eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (Nestle, 2007).” Fresh fruits and vegetables take the center stage when we are talking about nutrition and poverty. However, access to whole grains for the poor is not less important. Especially when families are constantly exposed to over processed wheat-like products that aren’t really food. Therefore, it is better for projects like the ones Shauna is working on, to bring fresh whole grains to people struggling with poverty.
I was also kind of interested in how bread related to biodiversity. Even when I was reading the book Bread, Wine, Chocolate, I didn’t fully understand how wheat could be at a loss. The more I read, however, the more I realized that different strains of wheat produce different types of bread. The difference between regular whole grain and bread flour grain, like how I mentioned earlier, is really dependent on biodiversity. There is not just one “wheat” crop that is a monoculture across the world, but instead a multitude of different species. If bread as we know it is to survive, it will need to be resilient to pests and fungi. If all bread was produced by a mono crop, it could be easily wiped out with a super bug. Unlike bananas, in a similar predicament, bread is a staple ingredient in our diets. It is so omnipresent that a massive superbug would be devastating to our food sovereignty and society as a whole. Therefore, while it is nice to just talk about good quality bread, having a biodiversity is important for the food system as a whole.