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The Green Life: Broken Food System Sours Bread Bakers

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February 06, 2009

Broken Food System Sours Bread Bakers

BreadloavesThere are few foods whose preparation and consumption provide us with as much simple joy and satisfaction as warm, homemade bread. The physical, meditative process of kneading dough disrupts what has become an increasingly fast-paced and stressful American lifestyle.

Many bakers buy commercial yeast at the grocery store but today, a broken and often unnavigable food system is making grocery-bound bread-bakers go sour. As local wheat becomes more readily available through farmers' markets and community-supported agriculture programs (CSAs), though, amateur bakers may find a rare opportunity to step outside of the industrial food system -- if only for a brief, tangy moment.

The simplest of sourdough recipes calls for flour, salt, and water. To make bread using these ingredients, the baker must first create a healthy sourdough starter, a culture of bacteria and wild yeast in a mixture of fresh organic flour and non-chlorinated water. Creating a starter is less daunting than one might expect and the advantages are compelling: a spunky, sour slice of bread with permanent independence from commercial yeast.

Bakers with access to clean ocean water and an appetite for adventure can even process their own salt from seawater -- a great excuse to head to the beach.

--Melissa Weiss

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