Anatolia’s cultural heritage, bread craftsmanship disappears

Mine ATAMAN
Bread Artisan and Writer

Hardly a day passes without the economic hardship caused by speculative exchange rate affecting one sector after another. One of the sectors that this economic hardship’s effect revealed itself gradually is the bakery. In the middle of the discussion about whether or not there should be a price hike on bread, the issue of healthy bread is ignored. In every sense, the sector goes through a bottleneck. This reality applies both producers and consumers. Many bakeries were shut down within the last three months. Particularly those traditional bakeries that supply bread to supermarkets face a difficult situation. Bread provided at low cost put the bakeries in trouble in terms of costs.

Many bakeries were closed down because of the increase in raw material costs, a price hike on electricity and natural gas, rent, and increases rents and in all other inputs. Big general stores put bread on sale that they bought at low prices through intermediaries. Without production, these intermediaries are sponging on the bakeries. Thereupon, they face with returns, advertising contribution, and fines. So, bakeries have to sell bread at a loss. Having to employ workers with low wages, bakeries have difficulty to produce quality bread. Tyro workers have to deal with bread production that requires craftsmanship. Challenging working conditions and low wages cause the bakery – one of the most important craftsmanship in Anatolia- to disappear.

Suffering because of the increase in the number of shopping malls and the decline in the street retailing, local bakeries are being closed down each day following the latest price hikes. The cost of raw material used to be around forty and forty-five percent, but now the cost reached beyond fifty-five percent. When rent, personnel, and delivery costs are added, it becomes even more difficult.

If problems over the cost of raw material persist in this way, there will be serious troubles in producing healthy bread. The increase in the labor and raw material put bakeries in a bad condition. In the last three months, one after another, local old bakeries are being closed down.

The news appearing on the press has different results in the sector. Apart from the decline in the bread sale, customers that want to buy healthy bread face with many trickery situations. On the one hand; whole grains, historic seeds, and local wheat are shown more than the production, and the mixture is offered as flour. On the other hand, many types of bread labeled as whole grain are baked with the mixed flour. While customers prefer to buy expensive bread in order to reach healthy bread, any type of bread that put on sale as whole grain bread or sourdough bread is not cooked at the desired quality level for the most of the time.

Experts claim that school-age children need to eat three slices of bread daily. Because of the negative coverage on grains, children do not intake protein and vitamin that they have to take through bread. Seventy-percent of Turkish people take sixty percent of their daily energy requirement from bread. When this reality is taken into consideration, the issue of healthy bread turns into a very important subject, and the bread issue becomes a national issue. Bread which is one of the most important elements in healthy nutrition should be reconsidered and restructured.

In this sense, awareness should be raised about bread within both producers and consumers. In schools, there should be studies on the right bread for children and mothers. There are difficulties on the side of bakeries. Bakeries find it difficult to bake bread with low gluten. So, they add wheat flour to such kinds of flour, and they cannot get the bread at the desired quality level. Thus, bakeries should undergo training on this issue.

The project of national bread is very important in these challenging times that bakeries go through. In Turkey, many types of bread and wheat can have a geographical indication. In this sense, bread types such as Vakfıkebir, Kastamonu, and Afyon can be taken under protection with the geographical indication; brands of baked goods produced with local seeds in these regions can be exported. Local seeds and bread brands should enter into the world market with innovative studies. For example, products prepared with flour having low gluten attract huge attention in the world market. In this sense, we should prepare products with Anatolia’s einkorn, iza, gacer, and kavlica wheat.

Types of bread appear on the restaurant’s menu with their own brands. The bread brand is an important criterion in the selection of a restaurant. In this sense, every country creates its own bread brand, local sourdough, and bacteria bank. Anatolia’s bread baked with sourdough dates back to twelve thousand years.

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