No One Can Bake Bread Anymore Because This Lady Needs All The Yeast For Herself
Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have baked two loaves of bread. Not very impressive, but still, that is two more loaves than I had previously ever baked in my life. They actually came out really well (I used this recipe!), and I was pretty excited about it, seeing as how I've always been more comfortable with cooking than with baking. I've even tried to do a sourdough starter thing, although I think I screwed up and so I'm just gonna try again from scratch. But still, it's been fun to pick up a new thing to do! It's something that a lot of people, obviously, have been doing in lockdown, so it also feels like some kind of solidarity. "Alone together" and all that.
But not everyone is pleased about it.
On Medium this week, one woman wrote a post titled "Why You Need To Stop Baking Bread" and subtitled 'Your new hobby is creating food insecurity in your neighborhood."
"Oh no!," practically any decent person would think upon reading that. "How? Why?"
As it turns out, we are doing that because we are buying up all of the flour and yeast to bake bread, even though a woman named Caren White (for real) needs it so she can also make bread at home:
I was walking down the baking aisle to see if the organic flour was on sale. Organic flour is expensive and I am poor so I always try to buy it when it goes on sale. There was no sale and no flour. The shelves were bare. My eyes travelled up to the top shelf. The shelf with the leavening ingredients. Also bare.
How could this be?
When I got home, I logged on to my laptop and started reading articles on the pandemic. I had stopped reading most pandemic related articles weeks ago because they were upsetting me too much. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't concentrate. I needed to distance myself. But I knew that the pandemic had something to do with the bare shelves in the baking aisle so I exposed myself to the turmoil once more.
It seems that there has been a run on flour and yeast because people are bored so they are baking bread to pass the time.
Well, yeah, but also to eat? It's not as if people are going around baking bread for decorative purposes and then not eating it. Also, there are many bare shelves. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was barely any pasta on the shelves. I make pasta all the time, but I was not going around thinking "How dare these other people buy spaghetti when that's my thing? I bet they're not even Italian!" because that would be super weird. I still haven't been able to get this one kind of rice pilaf I always get, but hey — it's a pandemic. Some things aren't as easy to get right now and I, a normal person, understand that.
But I am not as fancy as Caren White, who does not eat store-bought bread.
Baking bread is a way of life for me, not a hobby. Not something to do just to pass the time. I don't eat store-bought bread. I rarely eat prepared foods of any kind. If you visited my kitchen, you would find food but nothing to eat because I only stock ingredients. I do all of my own cooking and baking. On Saturday nights, I don't order pizza, I make it. From scratch. Including the crust. I also grow my own popcorn, but that's a topic for another day.
You see, I am one of THOSE people. You know the ones. You offer them a plate of food and they look at it suspiciously asking "Is that organic?"
I actually do not know any of THOSE people, because I do not hang out with assholes. If someone did say that to me, I would dump that plate of food directly on their head and then never speak to them again. Guess I'm one of those people.
I want to know what is in my food so I make it myself. By the way, croutons? Made from my homemade bread. Breading for fried chicken? Made from my homemade bread. Stuffing for the Thanksgiving turkey? Made from my homemade bread. So when you buy up all of the flour and leavening ingredients for the sake of pretty photos on your Instagram feed you are literally taking food from my mouth. And the mouths of other families who also do their own their baking so that they can provide healthy food for their families.
No, no they're not, Caren. You don't have some kind of food allergy that prevents you from eating store-bought bread, you are just a snob, and no one has to think of you or your weird family when they bake bread or do anything. Especially when you're out here also writing about how you are hoarding things.
How I Became A Pandemic Hoarder
Here's the problem. It's Economics 101. Supply and Demand. Before the pandemic, very few people did scratch baking so the grocery stores carried only limited supplies of flour and leavening. Both go bad, so they don't want it hanging around the shelves for too long. Hence the limited quantities. That was okay. There was always enough for those of us who needed it. But there is not enough now that we are competing with a bunch of dilettante bakers who care nothing for anyone but themselves.
I bet I can think of someone else who cares nothing for anyone but themselves!
Now, I'm just guessing here — Economics 101, you know — that supermarkets have noticed that the demand for these products has gone up and responded to that by upping their orders. That's probably why I see people who work at Wegman's filling the shelves up with flour every time I am there. Yeast, however, is another story. There's no yeast anywhere but like, Etsy. Thus everyone making their own sourdough starters and doing whatever it is they are doing with grapes. Adapt, Caren, adapt!
Yes, I know that sounds harsh, but I'm willing to bet that not a single one of them stopped to think as they grabbed the last of the flour and the yeast that they were robbing other people's children of their daily bread.
NO ONE IS ROBBING YOUR CHILDREN OF THEIR DAILY BREAD, CAREN. Your children, in an emergency, can eat store-bought bread. They won't die from it. Or perhaps you can grow and mill your own flour, I don't know.
Nope. I'm certain all they cared about was how impressed everyone was going to be with their picture perfect loaves of bread.
Or, you know, they ate it and enjoyed it just like you do with your bread that you make, Caren.
This is a freaking pandemic and we're all trying to make do with whatever is available. If the worst thing that happens to you throughout this is a thing you want not being at the store when you go there, you are a very lucky person and you should shut the hell up before a lightening bolt strikes you in the neck.
Anyway! This is now your open thread! Enjoy!
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse