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July 4, 2004

Homemade Bread

The seeds came from men named Rousseau and Locke, and were carried across the ocean to the New Land in sailing ships. They were planted in the good earth and watered by soft rains. The growing crops were weeded and tended by immigrant men and women. When the grain grew tall it was harvested by the settlers, threshed, and stone ground. The flour was kneaded by hand and leavened with the yeast of freedom. After it rose up, it was shaped by revolution, and baked in an oven fired by war until the crust was crisp and golden. It was likely set on a windowsill to cool in the fresh air. It was sliced with a sharp knife. It was good. bread steaming

Store-bought Bread

The seeds are genetically engineered by a corporation that has no name, only letters to identify it. The seeds are placed in a field by machines belonging to an agribusiness, then fertilized with chemicals, and irrigated. The growing plants are sprayed with poisons from aircraft. chemical sprayplane When grown, the grain is harvested and threshed by other machines,agribusiness surgically milled to remove most of the nutrients, and bleached white (a color that was found pleasing to the majority). The flour is mixed in sterile vats,bread-dough processed, formed into loaves, baked on a conveyor belt passing through an oven for an exact number of minutes,bread baking and run through a slicer. It is then wrapped in plastic, inspected by the government for conformity to applicable standards, and trucked to the supermarkets and convenience stores. It looks like bread, smells like bread, and even tastes vaguely like bread. If one had a mind to, however, one could compress it in his hands to a misshapen mass about the size of a baseball. In reality, it is much more like inflated library paste than the spin-doctors would have you believe.

What's The Problem?

bread ovens
It is all bread, isn't it? Yes, but my generation knows the difference between real bread, and that stuff they sell in the store, (and that we are informed possesses wondrous qualities that help build strong bodies eight ways). Perhaps you had a grandmother who lived with you when you were young, and who baked bread and rolls the like of which you have not tasted since. When the largest purveyor of foodstuffs on the planet proudly announces in its non-commercial spiel on public television that we should look at the world as one giant farm field, does it raise the hackles along your spine? If you grew up in the last century, your children and your children's children will grow up in this one. Will they truly come to appreciate the difference between homemade bread and that which now passes for it in our brave new world?
bread loaves on conveyer

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