Purpose v. Profit
It can be lonely, working alone. Not the work itself—that I enjoy—but the way it takes over my mornings, afternoons, and evenings, till, faced with a choice between socializing and sleep, I inevitably choose sleep. The long hours alone also open room for doubt. It creeps up on me sometimes, grabs me unexpectedly by the throat. “Oh no!” I think, suddenly panicked, “I’ve chosen wrong. I can't run a business. I'm going to fail.” The specters of healthcare and home buying and retirement all rise up screaming in my head.
And then something—a social media post, a conversation, an article—shakes me loose from my capitalist panic. It’s not that I don’t believe in profit. I do. I want to grow a financially successful business. I want financial security for myself: access to affordable healthcare, a home where I can plant trees, the possibility that someday I’ll get to rest. But from a capitalist perspective, profit always comes first, and building an ethical food business, or any business that internalizes costs, is not a good way to maximize profit. That perspective is repeated so often and so loudly that I sometimes lose sight of the real, immediate, soul-filling reasons for my work. This work is about craft and community, it’s about health, idealism, and de-industrializing the food system. Profitability isn’t the end, but the means to make the rest possible. Reminded of this, the panic subsides. I feel no more confident that I'll grow a success of the business, but, for the moment, I feel confident that trying to do so is worthwhile work.
This was a good week for feeling connected to the wider community of food activists and craft people. Kimberly Bell, the owner of Small Food Bakery in Nottingham and one of the bakers and business owners I most admire, mention Raven Breads in an interview. I got a handful of emails about rye bread from bakers across North America who’ve ordered the Up Rye Zine. And, perhaps sweetest of all, I received a long, handwritten letter from a baker I’ve never met in Mirboo, Australia, with news from her farm bakery on the other side of the world. These connections, these reminders that around the world other bakers are pushing for good food, for community, for environmental ethics against the relentless weight of the industrial food system, they give me hope.
Owner | Baker
P.S. I’ll have a handful of copies of the Up Rye Zine at market today. I made the zine as a follow up to a workshop on rye science I taught last year at the Grain Gathering and it’s written for professional bakers, but home bakers who enjoy food science might find it interesting as well.
TODAY AT MARKET
Red & White
Oat & Honey
Malted Chocolate Chip Cookie
Bittersweet Chocolate Cookie
Gleaner's Apple Pie 2.0 (with approx. 1/2lb apples / slice)
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Every Wednesday, OCT 2 - DEC 18
Pickup downtown, Birchwood, Fairhaven
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