Let Them Eat Cake

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.

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4 Responses to Let Them Eat Cake

  1. monica says:

    I’m just one person, but a 25# bag of flour seems to do it for me. I find that you really need a good storage solution (5 gallon food grade buckets are good) to make this viable, especially if you’re doing a multigrain flour (it’ll go rancid).

    I was gifted a bread maker about 6 years ago. I initially saw it as a gimmicky thing, but honestly, it was a great gift in retrospect. Here’s why: one of the things you have to do in calculating the costs of things is how much time you spend on processing what you’re getting. You say that the ready made bread is approaching the same price as home-made, but I argue that the home-made bread is actually more expensive, simply because you had to spend your time making it. I use the bread maker 2x a week, it works for me.

  2. tina says:

    Thanks for the input Monica! What kind of breadmaker do you have? I do it by hand, but make my dough in the food processor and I have this rapid rise recipe that I use when I’m pressed for time. I’ve always flirted with the idea of a breadmaker, but feel like it’s one more kitchen item in our already cluttered arsenal.

    • monica says:

      I have a ‘bread maker ultimate’, nothing fancy. It sat in a relatives’ basement unused for years, so I’m not sure how old it is. I have a tiny kitchen (seriously, the floor space is smaller than most people’s dining room tables), but I make room for it (lives on top of the fridge). I find that I often see them at estate sales, people buy them with good intentions, and never use them. Might be a good way to get one on the cheap and see if it’s worth it.

      I’ve been raiding the king arthur flour website for recipes for it. I really like oatmeal bread (good for sandwiches) and the english muffin bread is good for toasting (obviously 😉 ).

  3. eric says:

    Take a look at the Morton Salt website – might be more local than you’d expect. They are HQ’d in Chicago, but get and process salt all over. We have two locations not far from us, making our salt relatively local compared to some things.

    BTW, I like the new focus of the site!

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