When I first set up Virtuous Bread in 2010 the world that I knew was not interested in barter economies. There had been a crisis, for sure, but there was plenty of cash and in any case the mention of bartering, sharing, lending, common ownership and the whole idea of changing the world through bread were all met with blank stares.
How the world has changed!
Today, there plenty of wonderful multi purpose spaces, and people are highly likely to share things they own with others (their spare room, a place in their car, their lawn mower…) and are also highly likely to think that changing the world through bread (or macrame or gardening) is perfectly ordinary. Over these years I have added to my list of why it’s really good to know how to bake bread (core skill, people think you are a genius, you can always feed yourself…) because I have learned that you almost always come out on top in a barter situation when you have real bread in your corner: loaf of bread for 6 eggs – easy; loaf of bread for a bit of cheese or meat – simple; loaf of bread for a cup of coffee – candy from a baby; loaf of bread for the motorcycle repair man (no kidding) – ticked that box too. This marvellous feature of bread is in addition to its obvious relationship-building characteristics. Would you like to meet your neighbours? Take bread. Would you like to butter up your piano teacher? Take bread. Would you like to impress your host? Take bread.Enter my friend Heather on holiday in Greece. She reports from Santorini that there is almost no cash on the island. ATMs are empty, banks are empty, many businesses have no cash and individuals are running out. I bet she is wishing she had an oven and is considering starting to bake bread at her hotel by getting the flour and water and salt on credit, and returning with some of the bread to the shop to pay for it and exchanging the rest of the bread for her room at the guest house – that’s just the kind of girl she is. The owner is probably desperate as she is runs out of things to feed her guests, not to mention her family. This way, Heather could get a great holiday (assuming there is petrol to run a boat to get off the island before ALL the food runs out of course) and the stay could cost her nothing – and all because she knows how to bake.
The moral of the story of course is that everyone should have a vital skill. I used to wish I had a party trick (juggling, singing, playing the penny whistle, reciting poetry…) but today I am even more than ordinarily thrilled that I know how to bake bread. In fact, I think I should add a kilo of flour and a pack of yeast to my travel gear that currently only includes a wash kit, spare plugs and slippers (seriously). That way I would be prepared for ANY eventuality. Click here to come and take a bread class. You will then be able to take bread on picnics and to parties. You will be ready for “back to school” and you will avoid rubbish bread at university. You could set up a stall at the village fete or begin to barter with the motor cycle repair man. Just do it. Trust me, you will love it.