Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Danger of Homemade Bread - An Allegory

Once there was a community in which most people had been raised on enriched, white, store-bought bread and saw to it that their children were fed the same. The hope was that the children would grow to be big, strong, and well-nourished so they could live productive lives and be a credit to the town. The bread was provided for the children by means of a community tax and was distributed on a regular basis to all community children irrespective of size, shape, or color.

In this town there lived a woman named Matilda, who had three children. She had given the matter some thought and had done some reading and had concluded that she could provide better nourishment for her children by making her own whole-wheat or even white bread. After further thought she decided she would try it out. Now, Matilda was aware that what she was doing was decidedly "odd" and that she might get some flak from her neighbors. She was, however, determined to provide what she viewed as best for her children. 

She began to make her own bread and no longer used the Bread Distribution Service. She continued to pay the community tax for bread; and, in addition, bought ingredients for her own homemade bread. Sometimes when Matilda and her children were seen in public during the Bread Distribution Hour, people would ask her, "Why aren't your children eating?" She tried to explain that she made bread for them and that they ate it with the family, but found that most people thought that was illegal. She begin to fear that people would think her children weren't being fed (though they looked well-nourished) and that the City Fathers would think she was an abusive parent. She began closing the windows on baking day so the aroma wouldn't get out of the house and having the children eat their bread during the Bread Distribution Hour so they wouldn't be conspicuous. 

She tried to keep a low profile to avoid detection. However, rumor that there were some families making their own bread reached the offices of the City Fathers. The City Fathers decided a law needed to be passed to deal with the situation and define what was legal. There arose a great debate. Some said it was basically the parents' responsibility and privilege to provide bread for their children. Others said parents didn't know how to make bread and it should be mandatory that they obtain bread from the Bread Distribution Service. There was some fear expressed that children might starve if there weren't some guarantee that they were receiving bread at home when their parents took them off the Bread Distribution List. Others expressed concern that all children were entitled to an equal bread-making opportunity, therefore making one's own bread was very unfair to the other children who were unable to be given such an opportunity. Some wanted the law to require that the parents go to bakers' school; some that they have required ingredients for the homemade bread, some that there be a schedule of baking days and assigned times for the eating of the bread. 

Eventually, it was decided that the parents who chose to make their own bread needed to submit a recipe card demonstrating that the bread they fed their children would have at least some sort of flour, oil, and liquid. They also needed to be sure to feed their children on a regular basis. Matilda was elated! She had been afraid that the requirements of the law would be much more detailed and demanding. She recognized that there were those in the city who were violently opposed to the home-baked bread idea and that they would probably seek to have the law changed some time; but, for the time being, she felt much easier in mind. She was so used by this time to keeping a low profile in her baking that it never occurred to her that that should change. This writer however thinks that Matilda and other home-bread bakers should let the delicious aroma out to waft over the neighborhood. I also believe it would be beneficial if the community at large became accustomed to the idea and began to learn how tasty and nutritious homemade bread can be. This would, I believe, help to counter the weight of tradition on the side of the Bread Distribution Service should opponents of home-baked bread try to change the present law. People who bake their own bread to feed their children need to work to educate the public as to the beauties and benefits of bread baking!

Author unknown

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