The sustainable bakery

by John Unrein
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Sustainable bakery
Tartine Bakery seeks to bring craft bread to every daypart.
 

KANSAS CITY — Beyond ingredient transparency, the sustainable bakery means many things to the modern artisan bread baker: commitment to the environment, reduction of food waste, dedication to employees, and genuine care for the customer.

Rising star and head baker/partner Avery Ruzicka of Manresa Bread in Los Gatos, Calif., perhaps says it best: “This process that I love sustains people financially through employment, creatively through the production process and adds sustenance to our customers’ lives. It is pretty amazing.”

Chad Robertson of Tartine Bakery is on a mission to bring craft bread to every daypart (think breakfast sandwiches, buns, pizza and pasta), and sustainability is at the core of every step they take. The second Tartine Manufactory opens in 2018 in Los Angeles, promising to serve the best bread and pizza imaginable. At the original Tartine Manufactory (opened in San Francisco in 2016), one can order an egg sandwich on soft bun for breakfast, albacore flatbread for lunch, or steak tartare on Tartine’s country bread for dinner.

“The Tartine Manufactory is a forum to present bread in every possible way to the public,” he said. “We want to explore and bring back more grains. It’s happened with produce, meat. When I started baking, it was white flour and wheat flour. As a society today, people are making different choices. We want to try to push everything forward.”

Mr. Robertson wants to open doors for bakers to use more ancient grains like einkorn wheat and heritage grains raised by local farms, and others are doing likewise. Chicago’s Publican Quality Bread works directly with Spence Farm in Fairbury, Ill., on three heritage wheat varieties: Warthog for flavor, Red Fife for baking quality and Turkey Red for rising qualities.

Sustainable bakery
Bakeries like Chicago's Publican Quality Bread want connections with local farms.
 

“We want a connection and relationship with the local farm,” said Greg Wade, head baker at Publican.

All these efforts appear to connect to what today’s consumers are seeking out. A new report by The Hartman Group reveals consumers want more information about a company’s economic, social and environmental practices — and the more the better. According to the report, “Sustainability 2017: Connecting Benefits With Values Through Purposeful Consumption,” nearly 70% of the 1,500 U.S. adult consumers surveyed expressed a desire for more transparency from companies about their sustainability practices.

When it comes to communicating transparency, it is not about the quantity of the information, according to the report. It’s about the quality of the information. It is also the content of the information and the manner in which it is given. Consumers evaluate a company’s transparency in terms of access to its values, policies and practices, and the openness of communication between a company and its customers.

“Consumers associate transparency with how authentically committed a company is to ethical action,” said Laurie Demeritt, chief executive officer of The Hartman Group.

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