3 Mar, 2016 Newsletter

3 March 2016

Radical simply means grasping things at the root.

Angela Davis

Our emails, once a week, will keep New Orleanians informed about the State of Grain in our city and our region. As you know, Bellegarde is the only bakery in between Asheville and Arizona that stone-mills its own flour. We strive to source organic grains that we mill fresh and bake into healthy and delicious whole grain breads. We are convinced that the health issues which plague our city—obesity, violence, mis-education, ecological and cultural erosion—are bound to the lack of fresh food. Food access is a systemic Policy issue: everyday that we bake whole grain bread with freshly milled flour, we tweak one more nerve in the System. Each nerve pinch is our desire to re-establish our region as a self-efficient food economy and re-create the cuisine of New Orleans with fresh ingredients…a revolutionary Gordian knot.

We all speak the language of food and we all seek the pleasure of flavor. What more perfect medium to communicate change than with bread? Pandering to demand in a regional food system is not as important as nurturing supply: quality will dictate quantity. Help us democratize that staff of life.

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Updated Website: I’ve put some new photos and information on our website. Here’s the new Travel section.

News: I spent the week in Alabama, visiting farmers and bakers. Although the food situation is not as dire as it is in Louisiana, it still is not good. But I felt blessed to have met all the people who hope to overcome the circumstances. Some of these farmers make me feel shucks as a kid in the Yankees dugout, 1961. I am particularly indebted and inspired by the crew at the Bois d’Arc farm—especially Hunter Lewis, Dr. Ron, and Scott Peacock—who invited me in the first place. 5000 acres of potential wonder…right on through the darkness. It is the 51st Anniversary of the Selma Bridge crossing this weekend. May God Bless the peaceful soldiers.

Retail Bread: Please send me an email at bellegardebakery@gmail.com if you’d be interested in picking up bread from the bakery; we currently bake our country bread Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays; we’ve also begun to bake a beautiful whole-grain RYE BREAD on Wednesdays. Pick up is available from 7am until 1pm on any of those days. $9/each.

Blog: new blog is up…see below for an excerpt.
I was tempted to say that I saw another side of America this week. I was lured by the indulgence of refraction, of division, of quilting: of segregation. When we draw boundaries—in chalk on in blood or in words—around ourselves, our communities, and our values there is less to fear. In the same way that we eat with fork and knife, we’ve been conditioned to build walls and we’ve been shampooed to maintain them into adulthood. If you notice, deeply, a child has not only innocence intact, but equality intact. The sandbox is not a place of discrimination, ever. I’ve never seen a child, without the influence of an adult, imprecate race or ‘otherness’ against another. It is a social, learned, and artificial behavior to castigate, ostracize, and shun. It is, in other words, only what grown ups do. And that is revealed in the burden of time.

I spent the week visiting a 5000 acre organic farm in the Black Belt of Alabama. It was an experience pregnant with Southern stereotypes: gothic, romantic, poverty, division, history. I walked through Flannery O’Connor’s garden with plenty of metaphorical peacocks, saw the candles burning in daylight. As I spent the time in these places—Marion, Selma, Montgomery, Greensboro, Demopolis—I was reminded that I was in one of the Union’s poorest states, in their poorest counties. The Black Belt; a pejorative, but so named because of the area’s rich, black, alluvial soil. Left when this area used to be a coast. It is also, besides rich in folk craft and pride in culture, the birthplace of the Black Panther Party and the crowning jewel, if there could be precious stones, of the Civil Rights Movement. This Deep South is a cradle of liberation, a grave of oppression, and the womb of love’s glory.

…The proof of gravity’s existence is our fear of it: of falling, of letting go. The more we relinquish, skirt, swerve away from the fundamental embrace of love, the more inconclusive our identities will grow. The success of the Civil Rights Movement was the willingness to let go. Unrequited faith. Vulnerability: these women and men put themselves into a fire because they knew their love, their presence was water. The had to be twice as strong, twice as patient, twice as disciplined, twice as peaceful, and twice compassionate in order to dislodge the system. And relinquishing strength, trust me, does not betray weakness. Flames will rage until the Kingdom Comes, but water like love will never be dry. Water will always triumph, always smother flame. The catharsis of smoke, its hiss…

Essay: And So The Heart Is The Strongest Muscle

Soul Food

“Encompass worlds but never try to encompass me,
I crowd your noisiest talk by looking toward you.”

Walt Whitman