The images of freshly-baked loaves that accompany these words (and attempt to hook you in) are simply the result of quality ingredients brought together with love and a little skill. They look beautiful because they’re authentic; because beauty is consistent with authenticity. In the steadily-filling steamy bakery window, on the freshly-laden market stall, they’re displayed unadorned, their honesty evident, and there’s no need whatsoever for bold marketing strategies. Simplicity itself, and it accords deeply within each customer, wittingly or otherwise. Each loaf goes home in a plain paper bag.
When it comes to the medium-sliced white loaf, above, things are far from so simple.
Typical of industrial bread in particular, industrial food in general, it is, as Andrew Whitley so succinctly spells it out in Bread Matters, “the very essence of modernity”. What is that essence?
Profit maximisation at all costs.
And what are those “costs”? A complete disregard, as long as they can get away with it, of anything that doesn’t facilitate their aim. Your health doesn’t concern them; it doesn’t facilitate their aim. Similarly, that of the environment. Further manipulating the industrial process, however, by, say, incorporating the very latest technological advancements from the laboratory is a cause for much rejoicing amongst the management. Get the bunting out. Similarly, driving down prices paid to farmers for their grain. A dance around The Maypole? And yet, maybe even the farmers, like ourselves as consumers, have simply acclimatised to a diabolical status quo.
Food is absolutely fundamental to our well-being and yet we’ve handed over responsibility to individuals who are likely far more concerned with the penny-pinching process that manifests them a new Lexus every other year. (There must be some recompense for aligning one’s life with such soul-destroying aims, right…)
Mostly it’s the sheer insincerity of the whole enterprise that gets me. Put yourself for a moment in the shoes of the marketing man, imagine what it is to be like him, generating creative strategies around not simply a wholly lacklustre product but against a backdrop of heartless principles too. Sure, we’ve all got bills to pay. But didn’t creation intend him for something more than this? Didn’t creation intend us all for something better than what drives up the bottom line of big business?
The answer lies in your hands.