Thinking back to my time at school in Madison, I always talk about the Saturday morning farmers market. It’s tradition to stop at the Stella’s Bakery stand, and start the tour of the farmers market with a round loaf of spicy cheesy bread. It’s impossible to miss and almost everyone is digging into their bag of steamy hot bread as they make their way around the Capital Square. Although the cheesy bread is almost everyone’s favorite, some also enjoy a warm and fresh baguette from Stella’s. While some people want big houses and fancy cars all he would like when he’s made it big is to have a fresh baguette delivered to his house each morning. I thought about it – that sounds lovely. Who doesn’t love to walk slowly past a bakery or sandwich shop just to smell the fresh bread?
My family will often stop a local bakery for a loaf of multigrain, potato bread, or cinnamon swirl bread- best French toast you’ll ever have. The biggest part of eating sustainably is eating locally and supporting bakers and small businesses in your area. Since I am a lover of both food and specifically fresh bread, I decided to check out what some bakers are doing across the country to bring us these delicious tastes and smells while also thinking about the environment.
In New York City there are over 2,000 bakeries but not all of them dedicate themselves to sustainable practices. The Birdbath Neighborhood Green Bakery opened in 2005 by owner Maury Rubin, also owner of City Bakery, with the premise of being openly environmentally conscious. Both of Rubin’s bakeries use only local, seasonal and organic ingredients in their foods. At City Bakery and Birdbath all deliveries are made by bike and there are absolutely no plastic water bottles allowed. More and more businesses are working sustainability into their business plans with the idea that they may initially lose money in the process, but Birdbath proves that you can commit to sustainability without losing a dollar and gaining a whole lot of respect.
Across the country in Portland Oregon, Pearl Bakery recycles everything from the toner cartridge in their printer to glass bottles to the bottle caps. Their pastries and breads are made with flour from small farms and mills in the region that practice sustainable agriculture. Not only are their homemade baked goods local, but also the organic coffee that they serve is roasted weekly from Batdorf and Bronson just next door in Washington. The Pearl shows great commitment to recycling, as their employees collect recyclable materials outside the shop to bring to the recycling center in the community. They also ‘recycle’ their food waste through the Cloudburst Recycling program, a composting program in Portland. Composting at an individual restaurant or in a home can be difficult especially in an urban area because of raccoons and other pests. Contributing to a city composting center is a relatively easy way to get rid of food waste because they will often pickup your food scraps- seems easier then discreetly getting the dog to come over to your lap.
Located in downtown Chicago, the West Town Bakery and Diner creates everything from freshly crafted breads to professionally done wedding cakes to personalized cupcakes. They’re doing it with all natural and organic products. From within the Chicagoland area, West Town gets their ingredients, fruits, veggies, chocolates, nuts and flour from local vendors and farmers. They also care a lot about their customers by offering options such as gluten, nut, sugar or soy free. Deliveries are made using hybrid vehicles and when it’s time to clean up they use natural products without chemicals in their kitchen and diner.
You can smell it now: The bread rising, the sugar browning and fruits caramelizing. Oh how we love a good bakery we can depend on for our favorites and new treats. Everything tastes better when you know it was homemade and especially when it’s made with ingredients and integrity you can trust.