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Bread for the Good of the World

By Melaina Gasbarrino | October 3, 2011

Baking bread is all about timing, intuition and nowadays focusing on the greater good. The Kneading Conference, a conference intended to tackle the issue of wheat production taking the limelight in the local food movement across the world, is what spurred the idea to start baking for the greater good. Noted in Gourmet Live’s “Baking for a Better World”, at the 3-day conference in July, participants gather to learn the science of ‘creating local grain economies’. All who attended the conference were not only there to take in the science of creating that perfect loaf of light, fluffy bread but were there to stir their creative juices into developing the idea that ‘making better bread makes a better world.”

Take for instance Albie Barden of the Maine Wood Heat Company. His company, a wood-burning stove and oven company, not only provides clients with beautiful wood-burning stoves but has also devised a unique plan to teach kids about locally grown food. Barden and his family-run business is just the start of bread making companies that are taking a liking to educating others and working towards the greater good for all. At The Kneading Conference, organizations shot up to extend Barden’s concept into humanitarian work.

Pat Manley and his wife founded Masons on a Mission, a project of the National Heritage Foundation and “humanitarian relief organization that replaces dangerous un-vented primitive wood heating stoves of impoverished Mayans in Guatemala with vented, energy-efficient brick ones.” During the winter months he assembles a team and heads out to Guatemala to create and construct safe, yet cheap ovens. Manley states, “the ovens cost $150 in materials, the labor is us – and we don’t cost them a thing.” 3,000 ovens and counting Manley is all about ensuring Mayans have a proper oven to cook with.

Another humanitarian concept inspired by bread and religion is Slice of Heaven. Developed by Jonathan Rubenstein and his wife, Linda Motzkin, the nonprofit volunteer bakery teaches at-risk children the art of bread making. The Bread and Torah concept enables all to be apart of something they can learn, and share all with bread and religion on the mind.

Bread, as some see it, is the basis of civilization and Dr. Dowse, a cardiac cell biologist at The University of Maine and rustic bread maker writes, “bread is central to our being. You plant it and you have to stay in one place, to mill it, and store it, and bake it, and that requires community and cooperation. Bread is the basis of civilization.”

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