Updated: May 29, 2021
It has been a loooooong year since March of 2020 when everything came to halt due to a very nasty novel corona virus which changed life as we knew it across the entire globe, resulting in much suffering and distress on so many different levels for so many people! Prior to COVID-19 the word lockdown was usually assoiated with penitentiaries or military coups. Now we were the ones being put in lockdown for our own safety! For an entire year! Those who were lucky enough to escape the virus, nevertheless inevitably caught the COVID blues due to continued social isolation.
It is interesting to note that right behind toilet paper and handsanitizer, the most coveted commodities were flour and yeast. It appeared that everyone came to the same conclusion at the same time: that the process and smell of baking fresh bread provided comfort and a feeling of safety. Those of us who were/are entrenched in the wonderful world of bread making have known this all along. It reflected in the smiling faces of those who received our (sourdough) bread donations long before anyone knew the word COVID-19. Bread is powerful! Every single aspect in the process of bread making carries with it a powerful positive message: You are LOVED and you are CARED FOR, physically and emotionally. Although we don't much think about it but the bread making process really is a way of self soothing, a way of coping with anxieties and that is why the flour and yeast demand skyrocketed during lockdown.
Through our nonprofit BREAD Encounters I had been sharing our Carl Griffith 1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough with many people in my part of town and even sent it in dried form to people across the country. Among these people who received our gift of sourdough was was one person who truly experienced the bread making process as therapy for her anxieties. Mary Jhun is a gifted local artist and also a super barrista at Cafe Virtuoso in Barrio Logan where they serve some of the best coffee! She held on to my sourdough starter gift for an entire month (initially waiting to bake with her mother) but then after a emotionally strenuous month, she just took it out of the fridge. And her life was never the same again! Here are her own words: "The amount of love and care it took to bake one loaf took away a lot of emotional pain and strain from my anxiety, literally hindering me from having a panic attack. I ended up being more present for something other than my art and my busy life. As the bread rested after baking I asked my friend [me]: 'Am I supposed to feel this connected to bread?' " Yes, darling, you are! We are! You are making a connection that has been severed for a very long time! You are making a connection across a timespan dating back tens of thousands of years when men first discovered bread and in the process we are connecting to and rediscovering a long forgotten part deep within ourselves. Bread making is THAT powerful!
And the aroma of fresh bread is just as powerful! A study done by researchers at France's University of Southern Brittany confirms that "the smell of fresh bread will trigger a more positive mood, which leads to a greater degree of altruism in strangers". In short, that wonderful smell of freshy baked bread can cause us to be kinder humans! And kindness is something so desperately needed in our current state of affairs in the world.
I know I am not the only one who feels this way and is trying to make a difference. The Paradise Hills Foundation in Paradise Hills, San Diego just started to sponsor a monthly kindness challenge to residents in the 92139 zipcode. Much to our delight BREAD Encounters has been asked to lead the first kindness inititative in June. Although we may not be abe to change the state of affairs in the world, we believe that we can always make a difference in our corner of the world. Since BREAD Encounters' mission is to spread kindness and create human connection through bread, we are inviting our community to "Share The Loaf" with family and/or neighbors and report back to us how the making and sharing of bread has impacted them and their recipients. For those who may feel timid about baking a loaf of bread we will provide a bread mix for you to be picked up at the newly opened 6 Grados Cafe along with a "Fresh Bread" paper bag and label come June 1. We also have a video for you in which we share a very simple, yet delicious no-knead bread recipe and process. It's so easy, a kid can do it. Literally! We have had a 9-year old volunteer bake this bread (and many loaves after that) for a community bake we did for East County Transitional Living Center earlier in the year. Remember: every single aspect in the process of bread making carries with it a powerful positive message: You are LOVED and you are CARED FOR, physically and emotionally.
So, go ahead! Sign up to take part in our kindness challenge! Not only will you be spreading kindness to others but you will also be shedding any blues which may still be dampening your mood. And that's exactly what we knead. 😊
Over and Out.