Resources >> Audio Video Archive >> Earth Talk Video: Mind How You Bake! The Transformative Power of Sourdough Bread with Andrew Whitley

Earth Talk Video: Mind How You Bake! The Transformative Power of Sourdough Bread with Andrew Whitley

Andrew Whitley, founder of the Village Bakery and co-founder of the Real Bread Campaign is one of the major figures behind the revival of healthy artisan bread in the United Kingdom. Join Schumacher College’s mindful baking students to hear Andrew’s evening talk on the transformative power of sourdough and gain a new perspective on why bread means so much to us - so much more than just a mouthful of carbohydrate to soak up butter, jam or gravy! Learn about how healthy bread can be - and why it hasn’t always been that way. You’ll be able to sample some of the breads baked under Andrew’s tutelage and you’ll see our leavens bubbling away in the background calling you to be part of a new, more compassionate and interactive way of creating food and living together! If you’re not already baking your daily bread, this talk may well inspire you to get kneading - and who knows, you might even leave wanting to join the movement for good honest bread and set up your own micro bakery!

Baking bread mindfully engages us with three areas of life – cultural, nutritional and political. Mindfulness demands more than simply ‘paying attention’ to the process as we bake. Bread still defines our food culture and, made well, has the ‘capacity to enliven’ both individual bodies and communities. For too long, however, its production has been dominated by linear thinking and the seductive demands of cheapness and convenience.

Sourdough embraces different methods and values. It is circular, self-renewing, time-respecting, self-cleansing and collaborative. In an active sourdough, power is dynamically balanced so that no element can dominate or monopolise resources. And so, as sourdough microorganisms transform raw dough into nourishing bread, we, the bakers, find ourselves challenged to see the world differently and to make it better, one loaf at a time.

Andrew WhitleySustainable Living

Andrew is the author of Bread Matters (Fourth Estate, 2006/2009) and co-founder of the UK’s Real Bread Campaign.  Andrew campaigns with thoughtfulness and commitment for better quality in our daily bread and an end to the adulteration of the staff of life. 

He created one of the UK’s first organic, artisan bakeries (the Village Bakery Melmerby in Cumbria) and ran it for more than 25 years. For more than two decades\ he was the only commercial baker in the UK using renewable energy by baking in wood-fired brick ovens.   A visit in the early 1990s to post-communist Russia enabled him to study sourdough and he then launched a range of naturally-fermented breads that met a growing demand from people in the UK who found they could no longer tolerate factory loaves. He left the Village Bakery in 2002 and started Bread Matters.

Increasingly concerned with the state of British bread, he did a Masters in Food Policy at City University, London, researching the changes in grains, agriculture and baking methods that seemed to be making our basic food less nutritious and less digestible. The resulting revelations in Bread Matters (the book) led to calls for a national campaign, which Andrew co-founded in 2008.

As well as teaching people to bake real bread on the authoritative Bread Matters courses, Andrew is developing an organic agro-forestry project among whose objectives is to help build a local grain economy. Andrew is a trustee of the Soil Association.