It doesn’t seem like there anything about bread that should make it difficult to get farm-to-table local bread around here. And yet.
We’ve purchased a couple of loaves from local bakeries – the most recent being a loaf of tasty whole wheat made by All You Knead bakers down in Beacon – which have been very enjoyable, but have led us into two familiar stumbling blocks in our localism challenge: it’s not always clear how many of the ingredients are local and it ain’t cheap.
The website for All You Need says they make their products with “locally-sourced” ingredients. Good to know, though some of their breads include olives or pecans and at least one features grains “from across New York State”. So, how much of what goes into the bread we bought is as local as we’d like it to be?
Then there’s the issue of cost. The All You Knead loaf was the cheaper of the local breads we’ve bought recently at $5. Not outlandish, but more expensive than our prior habit of sticking exclusively to the day-old rack or the 5-for-$2 Portuguese rolls at the supermarket near our house.
So how do we ensure we’re getting bread from truly local ingredients and that we’re not finding yet another way to increase our food budget through localism? Well, we could make it ourselves. We just picked up a couple bags of flour from Wild Hive Farm, which is based a mere 14 miles away in Clinton Corners. They sell their local flour either by special order or at a number of local shops (we picked it up at a local farm store/gun shop).
We got two 1.5lb bags – one of corn meal and one of whole wheat – for $6 apiece. We used it to make some really tasty cornbread, but at $4/lb, it was definitely a pricier flour than the King Arthur we often get, not to mention the supermarket brand. And if a loaf of bread uses about a pound of flour, we’re already pushing the cost of the store-bought in cost of flour. Even if the costs of the other ingredients (local salt, anybody?) are marginal, we’re not saving any real money against the nice artisinal stuff from the store.
So then the next question is whether we can save significant money buying the local flour direct from the farm and in larger quantities and store it over a longer term.