When my daughter learned about the plate Laura and Almonzo bought that said, “Give us this day our daily bread,” she was immediately enamored. She was even more impressed when I showed her the plate I grew up taking my bread from, which also had the same phrase from the Lord’s Prayer. I didn’t realize how much this had impressed her until a few days ago (quite some time after we finished reading “The First Four Years”), she made this plate for me.
As it turns out, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about bread in Laura’s days. You see. I’ve finally gotten enough information to get started with the project this blog was intended for. (See the “About the Project” link at the top of the page.) The angle is changing a bit, however.
Two days ago, I came to the conclusion that no one has ever done a general trash inventory to find out what specific items Americans most commonly throw out. I’ve been searching for such a list since before starting this blog, and the day before yesterday two contacts I’ve been in ongoing dialog with (both of whom were going above and beyond the call of duty to help me) told me they were pretty sure no such list exists. At first I was discouraged, but then I looked again at the chart the man from the EPA had referred me to. It had only half a dozen broad categories. But as I looked at the largest category, “Containers & Packaging,” an idea struck. What if I focused on packaged items and looked for inspiration on how to eliminate the package waste? After all, in Laura’s day package waste simply didn’t exist. Everything was reusable. Sure enough, a quick Internet search led me to a press release from Nielsen (yes, the same company that tracks our television viewing habits) with top ten lists that include a couple lists relating to “CPG” (consumer packaged goods). While I’m waiting to see if they’ll provide me with a longer list, I can certainly start my project with those first 10 items. And the number one item is “bread and baked goods.”
So, my first challenge is to seek inspiration from the pioneer way of living to reduce the disposable waste that is associated with baked goods—especially bread. I’ve spent the last couple days reading, thinking, and discussing this and have some pretty good ideas. But you’ll just have to wait until my next blog to find out what those are! In the meantime, if you have some insights on pioneer bread history or ideas we should consider, do leave your thoughts in the comments section.