As a slowly transitioning West Philadelphia hippie, I find your post strangely on point. The movie looks great–just watched the trailer. In real life, mine anyway, I’m picking up hours at the local bakery which is very community oriented and is creating all kinds of environmentally, socially, culturally, and financially ethical practices of its own. I find the owner inspiring and his business model has been successful; his little bakery, started from his kitchen a few years ago, grew to the point where he moved to a back kitchen behind a local cafe, and he is now in the process of moving to his own store front. Orders are increasing weekly. His following is loyal and growing. And just a few things I’ve observed while learning to roll croissant and make bagel dough that appear to be pretty unusual about his business:
He produces about one bag of trash every two months. He does this by reusing plastic to wrap dough and the wax paper on which they’re baked; he reuses containers his ingredients come in to store various bakery items; all of his customers–unless otherwise requested–have permanent bags labeled with their names on them and made of recycled material which they send back to the bakery for their bread so that no individual wrapping is necessary. This is just to name a few of the corners he cuts to produce less waste. He is also developing a bread pudding recipe to transform misshapen breads and loose raisins, almond slices, and chocolate chips from waste to a delicious product. Of course, myself and the other bakers are keeping much of those things from going to waste anyway, but better that we share. My butter intake has increased dramatically since starting this job.
As for a CSA, I haven’t found one yet but I have been busy at the coop. I had my first cheese slicing shift last week. It was great. I listened to The Postal Service and sat in the cool basement after a long hot bike ride into and back from Center City. And of course, I tried the Lancaster Young Gouda once or twice while I cut it into big, purchasable chunks. It was delicious. I’ve also got a plan for this week to pot some plants on our fabulous third-story balcony. I’m thinking herbs and greens. It’s not tomato season yet, but maybe carrots? You know how I love crunchy things. Seriously, I go through a bag of carrots about every week or so.
While I’m loving learning more and more about this little enclave, I’m finding it tricky to be a part of a community so amazingly committed to reuse and local product. I too identify with No Impact Man’s wife: sometimes I have cravings to drive a fat pick up truck over to Cost Co, buy a bunch of bulk items in all kinds of earth-unfriendly packaging, roll home and veg out in front of the TV with some chemically enhanced snack food and all the lights in the apartment on. Okay, I jest. We don’t even have a TV. But really, sometimes I feel like a secret devil among angels with my soft spot for H&M and McDonalds frozen yogurt. Sigh. More on this as it develops.
In other news and more relevant to our little theme here, I bought mustard greens and little green eggplant this week. I have plans for the mustard greens which I will soon indulge to you, but the eggplants are proving to be a little project. They are the perfect excuse, in fact, to make a stop over to my favorite local Indian food market. I swear every item I ever saw for sale while I was in India, they have in this little shop. PLUS they sell fresh paratha, samosas, and other popular Indian street snacks in the back. Yes ma’am, I’m going for a little nostalgia trip sometime soon.
For now, it’s almost 9 and I’m off to bed for my 3:30am wake up tomorrow. Gotta be in for the morning bake at 4:30. Seriously: I love my job.
Lots of crunchy granola love from West Philly,