Veg Box Newsletter 28th February: Bread and Roses


The New System is Here!

Hip hip hooray! We’ve finally rolled the new order-management portal out to all of you, so you should now be able to log in with your email address to make changes to your subscriptions here. We hope you like it! It’s still early days, so if you run into any difficulties be sure to email us as usual and we’ll be happy to help. You’ll notice there’s no link to the Open Food Network below- that’s because the new system has you covered for adding one-off items to your orders, and should make it easier than ever to do so. 


We are temporarily out-of-stock of Locavore tinned chickpeas, and will be offering Essential tinned chickpeas in the meantime to tide us over.


In the Veg Boxes This Week

Subject to last minute changes

Check out storage guidance for helpful tips and tricks on how to prolong the life of your fresh produce. If you’re wondering where your veg comes from, have a look at these maps. You can also join your fellow subscribers over in the Facebook group for lots of tips, tricks, and recipe ideas!

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The Nice Bit

Human beings have been eating bread pretty much the whole time we’ve been around. William Rubels’ brief and delightful book Bread: A Global History tells us that bread was not only eaten by, but was central to, early civilisations in the fertile crescent. He writes that “Bread built the Old Kingdom Pyramids, it was a staple in the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome, and bread fed most of Europe even into the nineteenth century”.  Bread is the default foodstuff, the stand-in for life and sustenance in poetry, religious text, and political slogan; we don’t really know who we are without it, and the history of our bread is the history of who we are. 

In the UK, it is a history of inequality. For most of our history, white bread, the lighter and paler the better, was reserved for the richest of the rich. From there it was levels of so-called impurity all the way down: for most, “household bread”, from flour sieved just once, to remove “dead insects and the biggest shards of bran” (this is from Scoff: A History of Food and Class in Britain by Pen Vogler). Then comes “brown bread”, made mostly from pea or legume flour, barley, and a little wheat or rye. The very poorest of all ate “horse bread”, which was as the name suggests also fed to animals: made from bran and chaff, ground peas and beans, and sometimes straw. In Scotland, bread was at this time made more often from barley or oats than from wheat; it would have been a very different product indeed, without the gluten of wheat allowing for loftiness. Later, as industrialisation and urbanisation made white bread attainable for all, it was frequently adulterated with lime, chalk and alum, which made it paler and therefore, paradoxically seemed more pure. 

We now live in something of a bready paradise, with an abundance of white bread that is, if nothing else, safe to eat. It is lighter and cheaper than ever, due in part to the controversial Chorleywood method, which is behind the tidily uniform plastic-wrapped loaves we all know so well. The Chorleywood method is fascinating, replacing the traditional steps of making bread- the ones you and I follow at home, and which small bakeries follow- with highly industrialised processes, which make loaves en masse in under three hours. 

The bread the Chorleywood method produces is an entirely different type of bread than that traditional methods produce. It is uniformly soft and bland, without much in the way of flavour or substance. Sometimes it is just what I want, yes, but most of the time it’s really very boring. And then again, it’s made by huge companies with little transparency, whose employees could certainly never get away with putting their own deeply-held opinions in newsletters. And what of the wheat? And what of those who grew the wheat?

It is these questions of origin and ethics that make me particularly keen to celebrate our two bread suppliers this week. Up there is a photo of Andrew, who also delivers veg boxes, and is the skilled baker behind Different Breid. His delicious sourdough bread is available for delivery with your veg box if you’re a Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday customer. You can read a full profile of Different Bried here, but know that it is everything Chorleywood-bread isn’t: handmade, traditional, and very interesting. 

Our other supplier is Freedom Bakery, a slightly larger operation running since 2015, right here in Glasgow. As well as making incredibly tasty bread and pastries (those copenhagens are to die for), they provide training and opportunities to prisoners, helping offer structure and meaning.  You can read about their story, work, and bread, on their website

Both of these suppliers are embedded in local food chains, using flour from Shipton Mill and Mungoswells respectively, both mills that care about the soil and the people working for them. Mungoswells is based in East Lothian, and grows or sources much of its wheat in Scotland. Our bread suppliers both do good in the world. 

And the bread they each make is delicious, flavourful, showing all the work and care that goes into it. There is texture, chewiness, crisp crust, fermentation! It’s always a special thing to eat it, even if you eat it every week or every day. It is traditional, in that it’s inspired by traditional French breads, and very modern: as Rubels writes, what makes bread good is entirely cultural, and the large airy gaps and sour taste of the bread we now appreciate would have been signs of poor quality in the past. Which is very interesting, but doesn’t take away from the fact that to a modern palate this bread is top-shelf all-star shiny-pokemon quality. 

Bread and roses is a political slogan with its roots in the American women’s suffrage movement and links to all movements for workers’ rights, but at its simplest it is the idea that we don’t just need the necessary, we also need lovely things too. Not just bread to live on, but life’s roses too. I would like to suggest that the real reason to add a loaf of Different Bried or Freedom Bakery bread to your order is that bread like theirs is both: it’s bread, and it’s a rose. It is a treat, something lovely and remarkable to make life a little better. 

If you’re interested in the movement for better bread, check out the Campaign for Real Bread and Scotland the Bread.