PSA: Watch Community to Community's Facebook page for updates on ICE's violent detention on Friday of local farmworker, Medardo Cruz Ventura. They have listed the phone numbers of our local and state representatives and of the local ICE and CBP offices. Please take ten minutes to call and demand his release.
Where Does My Food Come From?
An Annual Report
The word “local,” like “artisan” and “natural” before it, is a victim of its own success. You can see it proliferating down the grocery isles and across marketing campaigns. The more popular (and profitable) it gets, the more confused its meaning becomes. Is a food “local” if it’s made here, from scratch, with commodity ingredients grown in Kansas or Ontario or Mexico or China or, most likely, all four? What if it’s sourced and mixed and parbaked in a factory somewhere else, but baked and served here: is that local? Is 5% locally grown enough? 50%? What are the geographic boundaries of “local” anyhow?
When I say I want to support the local food system through this business, here is what I mean:
In 2019 I bought 67% of Raven Breads’ ingredients (by dollar) from producers in Whatcom, Skagit, and King Counties. This number doesn’t include the value of locally produced ingredients, like Whatcom milk and cream, bought through a third party, or the value of the fruit harvested in the back yards and abandoned orchards of Bellingham (every blackberry, cherry, plum, fig, pear, apple, and quince that went into the pastries and bread), so the true value of locally produced ingredients was probably closer to 75%.
Of course, not all of my ingredients produced here are grown here. Of the flours I buy from Fairhaven Mill in Skagit (49%), only the rye and pastry wheat are grown in Whatcom County. The hard red wheat is grown near Walla Walla. The hard white wheat and buckwheat currently come from out of state. And the chocolate that I buy from Theo Chocolate in Seattle (8%) is made with cacao and sugar grown by farmers in Latin America and Africa.
Butter (12%), as existentially important to pastry as flour is to bread, is still a sourcing failure. Unless you count Organic Valley, we don’t have any local, organic dairies making bulk butter, so my organic, cultured cream butter comes from a large producer in Oregon. Seeds, spices, oils, sugar, and molasses (13%) come from a natural food distributor based out of Eugene, and though I always* buy organic and/or Fair Trade ingredients when purchasing through a distributor, some of these products are likely coming from the commodity organic market, making them only a small step above their conventional counterparts.
I try to keep my sourcing as transparent as possible, so please, ask questions. And ask questions about sourcing and supply chains of the other restaurants, food trucks, food producers, and grocery stores you support. The way we eat shapes the world. Soil erosion, CO2 emissions, nutrient runoff, groundwater depletion, farm worker rights, slavery, animal rights, antibiotic resistance, immigration policies: these may seem like abstract, distant issues, but they’re on our plates and in our coffee cups every day. I don’t think it’s possible to eat without causing harm, but keeping the geographic distance and the length of the supply chain between us and the farms that feed us short makes understanding the true cost of the food we eat a little easier. What we understand, we may love. And when we love our food and the soil, the climate, the people and animals who produce it, we may work harder to protect them.
Owner | Baker
*Except when the organic/FT option is out of stock, an unfortunately frequent occurrence when working with a small distributor.
The WINTER BREAD SUBSCRIPTION runs January 22 - March 25.
Sign up ONLINE.
RED & WHITE subscription ($7 / week)
MOUNTAIN RYE subscription ($7 / week)
BAKER's CHOICE subscription ($8 / week)
BAKER's CHOICE menu:
Jan 22: Rugbrod
Jan 29: Ring Rye
Feb 5: Apple Rye
Feb 12: Harvest Miche 1
Feb 19: Harvest Miche 2
Feb 26: Black Bread
March 4: Alpine Spice Rye
March 11: Rye & Oat
March 18: Korn Rye or Corn Rye??
March 25: Westphalian Pumpernickel!
Start Where You Are:
Using & Troubleshooting Local Grain
Instructors: Mel Darbyshire & Sophie Williams
Come learn tools for assessing, baking with, and troubleshooting local whole grains. Leaving the commodity market to support local farms and mills often means dealing with grains that vary from field to field, farm to farm, and harvest to harvest.
In this class we’ll bake with wheat and rye flours of variable quality, using sensory evaluation and the batch specs to choose products and adapt formulas to best suit our grain. We’ll talk about how growing conditions effect grain quality, how grain quality effects baking properties, and what to do with a bad harvest.
March 5-6, 2020
Thursday 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Friday 9 am - 4:00 pm
The Bread Lab
11768 Westar Lane - Burlington, WA 98233
Registration Deadline: Sunday, March 1st
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced
SIGN UP now open to the public