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Diversifying the Real Bread movement

There are people missing from the party. How do we engage, welcome and include them? 

Sonya Hundal facilitating the diversifying our movement session. Credit: Chris Young / www.realbreadcampaign.org CC-BY-SA-4.0

Sonya Hundal facilitating the diversifying our movement session. Credit: Chris Young / www.realbreadcampaign.org CC-BY-SA-4.0

On 1 May 2022, The Real Bread Campaign teamed up with Small Food Bakery and YMCA Front Room @ Malt Cross to organise a day of UK Grain Lab fringe events in Nottingham city centre.

The theme of one of the discussions was diversifying the non-commodity grain and Real Bread movement. 

People involved in non-commodity grain farming, small-scale milling and Real Bread making in the UK almost universally extend a welcome to everyone else to join us. There are, however, financial and other barriers that exclude some people from participating, while others feel that they are not invited. 

On this point of perception, there are also issues around communication. For example, some people understanding that the definition of Real Bread is narrower than it actually is, leaving them to believe that the types of bread they enjoy making and eating falls outside it.

Not forgetting the role of shoppers in the seed to sandwich web, barriers to some people accessing Real Bread also exist.

The conversation was facilitated by Greenfield Bakers owner/baker, writer and past Real Bread Campaign ambassador, Sonya Hundal. During the session, Sonya asked participants to write their thoughts on the subject. Here are notes collected from participants at the end of the session, organised under thematic headings.

What does a diverse movement look like?

  • Wide representation of all groups, including marginalised groups.
  • Representation of a range of different stories and experiences.
  • Acknowledge systemic barriers and choose to address them.
  • Range of interests and identities.
  • Anyone interested in milling. Anyone interested in fighting the existing food system. Diversity is resilience. Change needs to happen. More cognitive innovation.
  • Range of ages.
  • Neuro-diverse representation.
  • Not just bread.
  • Shared connections, share the audience, sharing resources.
  • Not just commercial bakers.
  • Flatbreads are globally more predominant.
  • All ages.
  • Diversity comes from affordable bread. 
  • Maybe a diverse food movement doesn’t ask people like me (white, middle-class, male) what a diverse food movement looks like?
  • Diversity in baking - gender balance. 

Who is missing?

  • People at or below the poverty line.
  • People who are properly working class.
  • People who make other types of bread that may not be ‘artisanal’.
  • Radical labour organisers / advocates.
  • Particular communities who make particular breads are missing from the conversation about bread, grain and flour.
  • Often, but not always, urban young people who could be engaged with farming and food production.
  • In Berlin / Germany we are missing Turkish and other immigrant communities.
  • Younger people, schools. Why?
  • Should include supermarkets - make it more approachable.
  • Older people. Those out of work and on Universal Income.
  • Black people. There is a lack of processing - mills and connections. ‘White flour, white people.’
  • Younger ethnic minority generation.
  • Tik Tok bakers / chefs.
  • Market traders (e.g. naan guy)
  • ‘Aunties’ already doing traditional baking.
  • Male / female split fairly even in baking, less so in milling and farming.
  • Black and other people of colour virtually invisible and unheard (but working in bakeries).
  • People on lower incomes. Lots of farmers but less so in micro / bakery ownership.
  • People without financial means which give access to Real Bread.
  • What about more ethnic bread products, working with sixth-form colleges and long-term unemployed?

Challenges

  • All our bakeries are essentially making the same style of sourdough bread. A broader diversity of bread may facilitate access to the UK grain community from a broader diversity of cultures, nationalities, ethnicities, genders, ages.
  • Seems to be largely middle-class / educated. In Ireland bakers are predominantly white.
  • Elitism in offering. Need to celebrate ordinary bread.
  • Access to equipment (for making other breads) and price.
  • The job is not necessarily encouraged. Maybe due to the lower income of being a baker.
  • There are so, so, so many other things in life which have to be prioritised before Real Bread by a large portion of society.

Perception of the Real Bread Campaign

  • Looks like white, middle-class (often male). Heteronormative sometimes.
  • Is about a product that seems accessible for a richer person. We need to make it more accessible for those on lower incomes.
  • Proper delicious bread. Informing people about alternatives to supermarket bread.
  • Is a community initiative.
  • Still very monied, white people.
  • Spreading the message of bread and baking.
  • Magazine (don’t read very often). Unsure of what kind of stories they want. Don’t really know what else they do. Is there a Real Bread week or day?
  • What is real?

Reflections

At one level, some of the comments about the Real Bread Campaign’s definitions, values, mission, aims, work and who we welcome indicate the need for us to improve how we communicate with people, both within and outside our current bubble.

At another, more fundamental level, there’s a clear need for those of us in the bubble to help remove barriers to people wanting and being able to get involved in farming, milling, bread making, the Campaign and the wider non-commodity grain and Real Bread movement. 

Sonya said: “I really appreciated people who talked to me before and after the session about their own experience and shared their thoughts on the current lack of diversity in the movement.”

Real Bread Campaign coordinator, Chris Young, who sat in on the discussion, added: “The spoken and written comments from this session are helpful additions to the ongoing conversation about how the Campaign – and the wider movement – can improve diversity, equity and inclusion. We will keep asking, listening and taking action.”

If you would like to be involved in helping to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the Real Bread Campaign, please email Chris.

See also

Published 16 May 2022

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