Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bread, Gardens and Historical Hindsight

Today is Thursday and were it not so cold this morning I would have ventured to Franklin street bakery to buy the dollar loaves of old bread. This is the steal of the city, a deal for all those early risers to take the time to sort through the racks in hopes of scoring a Marble Rye. The bakery is one of those few industries still maintaining a 3rd shift, an economic driver, because everyone needs to eat, and their surplus is our gain. The bread is delicious and a great palate for sweet jam and peanut butter. The owner of aforementioned bakery Wayne Kostroski has been recently awarded a James Beard Humanitarian Award for his work with Taste of the NFL.

The importance of bread has been ingrained in me since my early catholic youth chanting the verse of the Our Father. Give us now our daily bread... but I disagree with the next part of leading us into temptation, sweet baked goods are an amazing production of temptation. The favorite of which is a visit to 'A Baker's Wife', whose goods procure a spot of drool at the side of my mouth. Bread in my opinion should be either heavy, hearty, and nutritious. Or light flaky and full of butter and or sugar . Wonder bread only makes me wonder why people buy an item that can be smashed down into something the of a softball. A good example of this is found in the documentary 'How to cook your life' featuring Edward Brown whose book "Tassajara Bread Book" is considered required reading by many a baker.

The importance of bread as a object of society perseverance dates back to the Roman Era, annona civica, these distributions helped keep to a small degree people from revolt. Hungry people can be driven to extremes, as I have witnessed working at a restaurant how moods shift based on the level of blood sugar. Minneapolis is known historically at the Mill City, it's first baseball team was the Minneapolis Millers who played at the area now occupied by the Metro Transit Building at Nicolette Ave and 31st St, also one of the more stunning building downtown is the old grain exchange building where men used to buy and sell with the fury of those now on Wall Street.
Therefore bread in ingrained, ha ha ha, in our local culture. Food is the second only to water in human survival, we have plenty of water in the land of 10,000 lakes, and bread is readily available but not often at the 99 cent price at Franklin Street Bakery. When exploring the history of food in this fair city, I stumbled across the Minnesota_Starvation_Experiment, where conscientious objectors of WWII were placed into service, to test C rations and the ability to reintroduce food safely to starving POW's.(see interview #1 and #2) The most public institution of starvation prior to David Blaine's starvation over the Thames River in London.
One of the most stunning revelations found in the first interview is the smell of flour coming from the mills making hunger more present.
WWII created a focus on food that hasn't yet been seen. When the fight is thought to be for the freedom of the globe, every action that can help our cause is introduced including growing food. Victory Gardens came of age during war time, grow food to create less strain on our food supply to our troops. One of the oldest still operating victory garden is located in Minneapolis, The Dowling Community Gardens was started as a victory garden. Food is in our blood if you believe you are what you eat.

Further exploration of the effects of WWII on food production will come when I write about the Braceros Program.

Eat up

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