ascending wall made of bread bricks


One of Bread on Earth’s credos is that bread is a helpful tool for seeing trends and truths regardless of context. In that spirit, I wrote a piece for Kim Hastreiter’s internet-free newspaper The New Now about how the emotional, financial, and social shifts in ‘bread culture’ over the past spring and summer can be seen as representative of our broader human circumstance.

Excerpt from ‘The Bread Rise’:

“…I wasn’t surprised that in the face of a political and viral autocracy, the American people suddenly decided they needed to get their hands back on a substance that easily reads as life, money, and God, all at the same time. Despite its Western scapegoating as a dietary evil for the last decade or so (setting aside the slower but parallel renaissance of artisan bread-baking in niche American foodie-ism), bread still signifies security.

That said, a much longer history of ideological literature and actions has taught us that bread is representative of life and the livelihood that allows for the flourishing of that life. We must make bread to make bread. It serves as both sides of the literal and figurative coin: wealth and poverty, indulgence and austerity. This works well for those who can both withhold it and reward with it — a duality that is the source of bread’s mythology as both something people deserve and something people should be grateful to get (concepts that are actually at odds with each other). Bread shows up in religion, government, and industry, all socially stabilizing forces if accepted by a public, but destabilizing if resisted. The provider of bread has historically been a traditionally powerful one, be it the Christian god, the ruling party, or the man of the house, land, or factory. Yet bread is often culturally associated with quite the opposite: women, the masses generally, and the peasantry in particular…”

Continue reading here.

+ This story from May 7, 2020 in The Paris Review, written by Sabrina Orah Mark, is a good companion to it.


With the help of a few volunteers, 1600 dried sourdough starters (and counting) were sent free-of-charge worldwide over the last 9 months, all originating from the same mother culture that was born and bred here in New York.

The project has inspired an overdue restructuring of Bread on Earth into something concrete, sustainable, and with more potential for impact. The starter packs will soon be made and packaged in a certified kitchen (still by my two hands) and sold through retailers and direct-to-you-by-me, in order to cover costs and grow the breadth of this project.

Each new user (and those who already provide homes to a BOE starter) will be invited to log their sourdough in a public directory and map (using atypical cartography methods, to be designed with Abeera Kamran). Bakers can use these tools to explore the spread of the extended microbial family they've become a part of. Out of necessity, I’ll be suspending the shipment of free starters while we build this new framework. That said:

+ If you're a retailer and are interested in carrying the starter packs (fully dehydrated and shelf-stable!), please get in touch with me directly by responding to this email. And if you’re an individual and would like to be put on the future buyers list, please do the same.



+ Here are some Dirty Handkerchiefs, known also as a sort of whole wheat sourdough crepe, though you shouldn’t call them that in public.

+ And a Sneaky Rutabaga Table Bread. If you’ve made my Foundational Loaf before, it is very similar in method but a little … sneakier. 100% whole wheat, 30% root of your choice, 1000% supple.


Flatbreads have a unique way of illustrating place, time, constraints, creative perseverance and cultural preference. They’re arguably the most universal and varied genre of bread, yet are often overlooked and undervalued. Each of these letters will highlight one, beginning with…

01: Kisra / Kisra Rhaheeefa

Geography: Sudan, South Sudan, Chad

Composition/Use: a very thin fermented sorghum flatbread, traditionally cooked over a wide flat metal cook top. Sometimes includes a small portion of wheat or millet flour. Kisra is eaten as part of many meals in the region, often torn into pieces and used to scoop up meat and vegetables, or topped with sauces and stews.

Similar to: injera, crepes, piki

Context: Kisra is often referred to as the ultimate staple Sudanese food. For its metaphorical cultural weight, see this passage from Clash of Selves: Gender, Personhood, and Human Rights Discourse in Colonial Sudan, J. Boddy (2007) :

Before you go, please fill out this tiny 4 question survey about my favorite ingredient: *flour*. It's quick and will go a long way in helping with upcoming Bread on Earth endeavors.

Until next time, and please write.

Lexie Smith

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