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Bread Winner—Rochelle is Coming After You With a Loaded Rye

Bread Winner — Rochelle is Coming After You With a Loaded Rye

As a little kid, too short to be seen from behind the bread counter in my father’s bakery, I would wait for the slices of bread to fall as the loaf went through the slicer. And then I would steal the end piece and run. My father would point a finger and say, Rochelle, you’re eating the profits.” On a personal level, I have had a complicated relationship to bread. I had, early on in my life, convinced myself that to not eat bread was a betrayal of my family. 

My DNA is marked with the history of bread. My Ukrainian born mother was the daughter of a baker and my Belarusian father was the son of a miller. Bread has been a part of my culture for centuries. A psychic I once visited identified me as Egyptian in a past life. Of course I am, because that’s where the bread story begins. Bread is the oldest prepared food dating back 14,000 years. It is given credit for helping us become less nomadic and more, let’s call it, urban as we began the business of milling and using ovens. 

In one form or another, bread speaks many languages. It defines us, nourishes us, celebrates us and civilizes us. Today, it has been weaponized. (I know an overused word.) As buyers or sellers, many people are reliant on grain imports. As it piles up in Ukrainian silos, many are starving. What is happening in Ukraine is not only a test of our humanity. It is a test of our world’s economic stability and the future of democracy.