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Welcome to Bread & Justice
an explanation of what this newsletter & bakery are all about
Good morning bread friends!
Today I want to give a hearty Welcome Aboard to the many new subscribers who joined the Bread & Justice community this weekend.
Wow! What a fun surprise to see that this community grew by about 10% these past few days. I understand that I have Channel 3000, and this cool little segment that they did on local TV to thank for most of the new subscribers.
Welcome! I’m so glad that you’re here.
I feel like I should share with you all that I get notifications on my phone when people signup for this newsletter, as well as when people buy bread or donate to Bread & Justice. So after the story aired on TV, it was an exciting couple of days where my phone would continuously alert me to the fact that there are more people in the world who care deeply about real bread & also want to fight for justice in our society. Yesterday I thought about how I wish I could send you all a welcome email orienting you to this newsletter. With some research, I learned that I actually can do that! The software that I use to maintain this newsletter (it’s called substack) supports having a welcome/onboarding email. So, I’ll have to set that up sometime… and when I do set that up I’ll likely turn to today’s letter – because today I’m going to curate a bit of an orientation packet for this community.
Whether you’re new here, or you’ve been a subscriber for a while but aren’t quite sure how you’d describe Bread & Justice to a friend… my goal today is to make it make sense for you.
If by the end of today’s letter it makes sense to you… I’m going to have a favor to ask of you. Stay tuned ;)
What is Bread & Justice?
I often describe Bread & Justice as a philanthropic enterprise. But if one is asking the question “what is it”, this description barely even attempts to answer the question. The actual answer is, it is two things. Bread & Justice is a bakery & it is a newsletter.
As a bakery: Bread & Justice is a community-supported home-based bakery on a mission.
We hand make sourdough bread from locally sourced ingredients and donate 100% of the profits from the sale of every loaf to an organization working towards a more just society. The next two questions that tend to follow from this are: Is it okay to sell food from your home? Are you registered as a nonprofit?
So let’s explore these two questions.
First, the legal structure that allows home bakers like me to make and sell bread to our community is something called “cottage food law”. These laws exist in most states and they provide a framework that permits home bakers to sell their goods without needing to operate out of a commercial kitchen. These laws are precisely what makes it possible here in Wisconsin. I’m grateful for this framework which allows me to lawfully combine flour, water, and salt in order to make bread for my community.
Next, Bread & Justice is not a 501c3 nonprofit. We are a for-profit company, that has an express objective for our profits. With this bakery, we donate 100% of our profits to nonprofit organizations doing work to promote social justice and/or combat racism in our society. In a society shaped and dominated by capitalistic teachings that growth is necessary, and greed is natural - I’ve chosen to start and run a business that stands as an example for something different. I believe that a business can do good in the community, can be healthy and successful, and can generate profits to deploy for the intentional betterment of society rather than just for the benefit of shareholders. While it may be an outlier position, there are plenty of others that operate their businesses with a similar framework. For those who may want to dive deeper into this, I described the businesses that I drew a lot of inspiration from in this previous newsletter.
As a newsletter: Bread & Justice is a community for anyone who wants to work towards building a more just society.
For me, bread-making became a form of self-care for me in the summer of 2020. After the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, I found myself baking a lot of bread late into the night. These evenings were a time for quiet thinking where I worked through complex feelings about my own place in the world as a black man, as well as how I could make this country better for the next generation. In a letter that I wrote on my birthday, this newsletter was born as a home for reflections on the two things that were becoming intertwined in my mind: the craft of making high-quality sourdough bread, and the labor of creating a more just society.
Over the past year and a half of writing a newsletter that comes out every Tuesday morning - this community has grown to be a bit of a support system for those of us who can see the linkages between food justice and social justice. Each week I share some combination of reflections on society, reflections on baking, or reflections on how I see those two things as related. It is my goal to be an encouragement to my readers as they seek to have an eye open for small ways that they can be a force for good in society. Since we’re selecting a different nonprofit to donate to each month - I also try to highlight the good work that our partner is doing and share transparently how much this community has raised for them.
Finally, this newsletter serves as a Tuesday morning reminder for those that are local that I’m accepting pre-orders for this week’s Thursday bread pick-up. As a practical matter… because sourdough bread making is a multi-day process, Tuesday’s pre-orders tell me how much dough to mix on Wednesday. Then each Thursday I wake up early in the morning and bake them all for you to pick up from my house (on the near west side of Madison).
So for those of you who would like to get bread for this week - now is the perfect time to follow this link and pre-order bread. Throughout February we’re donating our profits to The Foundation for Black Women's Wellness.
Hopefully, this letter served as a clear explanation of what Bread & Justice is all about. Thanks again for being a part of this community. It means so much to me to know that there are so many of us who care deeply about these issues.
👀 At the top of this email, I promised that I’d have a favor to ask of you. You made it to the end, so I assume you wanted to know how you could help. My request of you is that you take 15 seconds right now and think of 1 or 2 people who share your interests. If you decided to subscribe to this newsletter, chances are high that you know one or two other people who would want to subscribe also. You can be the one to invite them. The two most common ways that people tend to share our newsletters are by directly forwarding the email or by texting the link to the newsletter. Thank you all. It means a lot to me if you’d take a moment to share this newsletter.