Bread for Good Children is a growing project by Rachel Schell-Lambert. Trained by her grandfather to bring family and friends to a table for good, satisfying food, she developed an interest in baking and cooking from an early age. Being fortunate to hear stories of farm life in the 1920's, Rachel was never distant from the knowledge that the land provides for us and we use those provisions to care for each other.
College meant a degree in Plant Sciences that focused on organic agricultural systems, rural development, and international agriculture. Trips to Puerto Rico and India heightened Rachel’s idealism that agriculture and gastronomy are two lenses through which human culture is focused. In a closed, local system, humans would grow what we aim to eat, and eat what is available from our surroundings. Though we don’t adhere to this ideal in practice, Rachel believes it has gravity and grounds us when we allow for it.
Working with home gardeners after college in Latin America, Rachel was exposed to the loss of this grounding aspect of culture- and place-based nourishment. Mass-produced foods showed up on rural plates as status symbols while the care of rice fields and fruit trees diminished. Traditional foods still existed, yet it was clear that their value and priority level were decreasing. Rachel thought that the solution for this psychology could be to lift up the culture that supports local agriculture, and to provide more farmers and home gardeners (along with their earth-tending and food-harvesting skills) to the community.
For five years, Rachel worked as a beginning farmer trainer and organizer in the Northeast US. As consumer demand for local products increased wildly, farmers struggled (and continue to struggle) to find appropriate training, capital, and support systems to coax the food supply from the ground and bring it to markets. In Rochester, NY, Rachel began an internship with a local cooperatively-run bakery and food hub that allowed for her to investigate bread and pastry baking on a larger scale. Selling breads, produce, and value-added fermented products at the public market each week, she was delighted to find out that many customers placed a high value on what they considered healthy food--fresh vegetables, chemical-free and organic breads, and handmade pastries and treats, hoping that their hard-earned cash, benefit checks, and market-match tokens would be enough to provide nutritious and delicious food. Rachel's grandfather's lesson rang true and clear: food grown and made with purpose, intention, and attention to quality brings people together. We want to eat good food.
As head cook at a small summer camp in the Finger Lakes of New York, Rachel committed that year's kitchen to cooking from scratch using local ingredients. Campers ventured to try new foods--vegetables even. Camp mealtime was a positive experience rather than a mindless task or even a scary chore (for the picky eaters) that proved to Rachel that her childhood experience of being cared for at a dining room table or kitchen counter had come full circle. She was now the one nurturing others' bodies and spirits through well-made and place-based foods.
Rachel moved to Louisiana with the intention to apply lessons gained in the Northeast to a food-oriented city with a subtropical climate. A proud member of the New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee, Rachel has the chance to strategize and advise with co-committee members on how to support farmers and local food supply chains. Bread for Good Children is another extension of this mission to encourage community self-care through respect for local agriculture, our neighbors, our customs, and our bodies.