Small changes are powerful
It was said by Captain Enciam We have the power to change things if we pay attention. Importatn changes do not come from existing laws- Big changes usually occur because a group of individuals decide to move in that that direction, and the more they work together, the more people join them. The choice of caring for our environment and not continuing to exploit the planet is ours and affects us all.
We invite you to pay attention to the little things we all can do to minimize our environmental impact.
The fight against plastics
One of the things that worries us most is the huge amount of plastic bags that we use. Often our customers ask for a plastic bag to put products that already come in a plastic packaging, or a bags that will be used only a few hours until they eat the roll or croissant bought the same day.
One day, you saying “I forgot to bring my bag” will not be enough,
We encourage our customers who ask for a plastic bag to keep it for the next day. We explain to them that plastics bags have a big ecological impact and we suggest that they reuse them as much as possible. We never take for granted that they will need the bag. Our first option is always to wrap our products in paper.
Since the customers have to pay for the plasic bags due to legal imperative, we have observed a rebound effect. Before it was compulsory to charge for the bags, we already did it, which generated some debate among our clients. People who did not want to pay for the bag, thought it was unfair to be charged for the bag and sometimes they even they preferred to leave. This never stopped us. We learned that, asking people to pay for the bag made them brought their attention to this important issue. Sometimes the person who was asking for a bag suddenly remembered he/she had brought one. We donated the money we collected form the plastic bags to a local NGO based in our neighborhood (Gats de Gràcia)
After some time charging for the bags we are seeing that while some of our customers keep bringing their own bags, others got used to paying for the bag and there is no much further debate on this issue. We will keep raising awareness about the global plastic waste crisis and encouraging our customers to learn more about what they can do to reduce their own single-use plastics, and take their pledge.
Reducing food loss and waste
Another important environmental issue is the amount of food that is discarded or lost uneaten. As a local business we are interested in innovative and new approaches to to reducing food loss and waste. In this regard we pay attention to two issues: the origin of the ingredients and the reuse of surpluses.
We use selected organic and locally grown flours. We pay a higher price because they come from less efficient production systems. We encourage our suppliers to optimize their trips to our bakery so we can also optimize our orders. The orders that we place are not too big in order to prevent food waste and we have a strict control policy of our stocks.
For us, the most important thing is to avoid wasting the products that are already baked. To make a baghette, it is necessary to use a fertile soil for many months, transform the grains into flour, pack it, transport it to the workroom, transform it with manual and mechanical work, use electric energy to cook it and finally sell it. For this reson, throwing a baghette means throwing all this power and fuel, as well as hours of manpower.
We try not to have food surpluses by following these steps:
– Thorough examination of the products sold every day in order to adjust our production accordingly.
When deciding the amount of bread and pastries that we will bake for the next day we take several factors into account such as the weather (rain), any sport or cultural events or local holidays. If there are no important events, what best serves as a predictor is the sale of the previous day, knowing also that the biggest sales days are Mondays and Saturdays in winter, and Mondays and Thursdays in the summer .
-Working with a sales limit without prior order.
Although this might not seem obvious, it is essential for us that customers who want more than three pieces of the same type of bread (or more than 1,5 kg in case of products sold in bulk) preorder them with a minimum lead time of 24 hours.. Our team of mixers and bakers start baking the following day at noon. They have total control from starter through the deliciously crusty finish. All the preorders must be placed before 2:00 pm. We prefer to say “no” to a customer than modify selling ratios. We want to produce the right quantity of fresh baked products.
-Use of bread leftovers
There are many things we can do with bread surpluses from the day before. To start, if it is a large or dense loaf, we can sell it the next day with a small discount. We slice the traditional baghettes and the whole-grain baghettes and toast them. This type of toast is called dextrinate bread, it is very digestive and stays longer than a week. If we have an excess of toasts, we give them to our customers. If we do not have many because there is not enough bread left, we sell them at our bakery.
We also also make dry soup bread. We sell it at half price to our customers and at a lower price to restaurants and catering companies. In the summer our toasts are perfect to make the traditional “gaspatxo”.
We also reserve a part of the white bread suspluses, we allow it to dry completely and then to grind it to obtain high quality sliced bread. We sell it at out store and it is used to make croquettes or to use in other batter-breading recipes.
-Distribution of surpluses.
Last but not least, we are part of food distribution networks for people at risk of social exclusion in our community. We are open to agreeing on specific days of donation of bread delivery and leftovers to other organisations, we just ask that our times be respected. We can not know how much surplus we will have until the last minute. If you are part of an association or NGO or you are going through a difficult time, come talk to us.
– Organic bread for organic farming hens
The crumbs and the pieces of bread we have not used have a final destination. We have a couple of clients that have chickens and we reserve bread for them that they come pick up from us. In return, we receive gifts like eggs or vegetables. If you have farm animals and are interested in doing this kind of trade, come and talk to us. Where 30 hens can eat, 40 can eat as well.
Bread Conservation Tips
Avoiding to throw food that you already have at home allows you to save money and plastics, as it means you do not have to buy more food than you need.
Breads made with organic flours and that do not contain any type of preservative can perish very quickly at room temperature. In summer it is more dangerous than in winter, but the truth is that temperature can be quite high in domestic kitchens all year long. Two things can happen. On the one hand, moldings may appear, which are colonies of fungi that live in nutrient-rich and humid foods. The moldings appear on the surface (in case of sliced bread, on the surfaces of each slice, usually on the most exposed slices first). Bacteria, on the other hand, can spoil the food from its hot center out, and we only notice them when we cut the bread in half. Bacteria grow in the dough, from the inside out, giving it a mucous and sticky texture. It looks like that bread is undercooked, but it is actually because of the presence of bacteria. It is not like this when you buy it, since there has not been enough time for microbial growth. But if we leave the bread at high temperature for 24 hours, microbial growth might start to take place. More acidic doughs prevent the onset of bacteria (for instance, dough rich breads that have vinegar as an ingredient).
For foods in general, there are healthy and natural preservatives, such as includig a high concentration of sugar or salt, or acids such as vinegar, or even techniques to remove all moisture from the product. Without using antibiotics. The only way to prevent microbial growth is to put the bread in the refrigerator or the freezer.
Store the bread in the freezer.
It is easy with bread because it is a food that perfectly supports low temperature, as long as we put in the freezer and leave it there until we eat it. In the freezer, the bread must be wrapped in non-breathable materials such as glass, plastic or ceramics. We can use plastic or glass containers or even plastic bags. It is important to store the bread divided into the portions that we will later use. That is why most of our customers ask us to cut the bread into slices for them. But we should keep in mind that the bread, once defrosted, it dries quickly. So if we want to consume it right away, we should take it out of the freezer and put it in the toaster or on a plate to break the ice crystals more quickly. However, if we want to take the frozen bread away and eat it a few hours later, it is better to defrost it slowly and keep it well-wrapped. Many of our customers store the bread in the freezer to make sandwiches, or they even freeze their homemade sandwiches. If that’s what you want to do, just remember to cut the bread in size and shape that you like for your sandwiches and make your sandwiches before the bread defrosts.
Storing the bread in the fridge
Another option to keep your bread from perishing too fast is to put it in the fridge. It it better to store it well wrapped, since many different smells can be mixed in the fridge. At four degrees celcius the bread can seem to harden a little bit, but it is only temporary. If you slightly toast it in the toaster it will quickly recover its crusty finish. We can also let it recover temperature by taking it out of the refrigerator half an hour before.
You can store out breads in the fridge for five to six days. Or even up to ten days if you keep in the refrigerator container that has a lower temperature.
Buying whole pieces of bread.
The most classic way to keep the bread fresh is to wrap it in a cotton cloth and place it in a damp but cold place. Traditionally, most houses had pantries, but now it is unusual to have a space in our homes that are kept at a 13 to 5 degrees celcius. The large pieces of bread, like the large two-kilo loaves that were very coomon two generations ago, had a lot of crust (sometimes more than one centimeter), and this crust acted as a natural barrier against drying. Because the surface was drier and crustier, microbial growth was very much delayed.
Today we buy breads of smaller sizes that can not have as much crust, because if they did, they would be too dry. But a classic loaf wrapped in a cotton clothe can still stay fresh for three or four days. We must find the balance between not letting the bread losing too much water or losing too little which can make it susceptible to mold. Have you ever thought why the bread with tomato was invented? Just as a way to soften the the bread that had dried a little bit.
Even when the bread is not as fresh anymore, we can slightly toast it, put tomato and olive oil and have an excellent meal.
You can give dry bread a second life. You can slice it and put it soup dishes, make croquettes or use it in breaded vegetables or meat dishes. You can also put it in bread, onion or garlic hot soups or gazpachos.