Rude Health was kind enough to organise and invite me to a Rude Health Ranting session at the Garden Party at Clarence House. Rude Health is now famous for inviting passionate people to rant and it is no surprise that I ranted about bread.
On such a beautiful day it seemed churlish to rant at all but then I remembered a line from The Leopard: “If we want everything to stay the same, everything has to change.” Although set in the 1850s, that line is as true today as it was then. If we want to continue to enjoy beautiful blue skies over our safe city, and maintain levels of health and prosperity, a great deal about what we do needs to change. This fight needs to be fought at multiple levels, from govenmental to individual, and I choose to fight that fight with bread. Bread and butter is the answer to many of the world’s most pressing problems. Good bread and butter. Nay, virtuous bread and butter!
Good bread is the end product of a good process that includes responsible organic farming, stone milling, long fermentation, and local distribution without plastic bags. Good bread has a positive impact on society for three reasons:
1. Environmental. Good bread is produced and distributed with as little negative impact on the planet as possible. No harmful chemicals, no long distance travel, no plastic bags.
2. Health. Good bread is full of important nutrients including all those B vitamins we need to ward off alzheimers.
3. Societal. If we are healthy we are more likely to be happier, more patient, kinder, more tolerant, with better attention spans and fewer mood swings. We are more likely to make a positive contribution to those around us and be less of a drain.
Finally, there is humanity in a hand baked loaf. A wise baker once said to me “I don’t make home made bread, I make hand made bread.” My hands are unique. They are a different size and shape, have calluses in different places and smell different according to what I ate the day before. The loaves I bake will always be different to the loaves anyone else bakes. When I share my bread, I truly share something of myself and when I eat someone else’s bread I feel part of the human family, knowing what went into making that loaf.
Calls to action:
1. Reflect on how you feel when you are given hand made bread to eat. Do you want to feel that way more often? Do you want others to feel that way?
2. Consider making different bread choices. Sliced bread in a bag is a junk food treat. It is like crisps, sweets, or fizzy drinks. It is not for every day.
3. Google Mill Green Museum. There is a watermill there, one of the few left in the country and the museum is facing cutbacks. Please put pressure on the council to invest in marketing the mill and its flour rather than cutting back its funding. The mill is a key component of the local community and, therefore, of this global community of ours.
Everything has to change so why not start with bread. Good bread. Virtuous bread.