Flour power

Five bucks for a loaf of bread? Are you kidding me?

The price of flour is soaring.* A year ago, flour cost about 25 cents a pound retail, 20 cents wholesale.

Today in Redding:

Raley's, bread flour, 5 pounds, $3.38, or 67 cents a pound.

Safeway, bread flour, 5 pounds, $3.49, or 70 cents a pound.

Cash & Carry (wholesale) , 10 pounds, $5.99, or 60 cents a pound.

Moore's Flour Mill, whole wheat bread flour, 10 pounds, $7.69, or 77 cents a pound. Unbleached white bread flour, 10 pounds, $5.49, or 55 cents a pound. Averaged, say 66 cents a pound.

And today on Amazon, a 50-pound sack of bread flour costs $65, or $1.30 a pound.

I like to bake bread, but it takes time and makes a shaggy mess. On the advice of my cousin-in-law, a staunch do-it-yourselfer (Hi, Brian), I searched out a secondhand bread maker.

A clean, white West Bend was at my favorite thrift store, Superior Thrift on South Market. The sticker price was $9.98 at 50 percent off, so it cost $4.96. Had all its parts and its instructions manual. Works perfectly. Takes little time and makes no mess. Makes a nice-sized loaf, too, as you can see in the photo. That's walnut-cranberry bread, pinkish from the cranberries.

If I buy flour at Moore's, I support a hyperlocal business (small, family-owned) and get the flour freshly ground. Out of a 10-pound bag (40 cups), I can produce 13 loaves of bread (3 cups per, 17 cents a cup). Including the yeast, butter, milk and other bits of flavor, a loaf of bread will cost me roughly 60 cents.

For two loaves a week, or $1.20, that cost is $62 a year.

Two loaves a week of ready-made bread, on sale at the store for $3, in a year will cost $312.

At full price, soon to be $5 a loaf (believe it), it's $520. For BREAD.

Yes, it's the staff of life, but still. I draw the line.

Because I can't make my own gasoline, I can only control fuel costs by driving a hybrid car (still 40+mpg on my Honda Civic).

But I can ding-dang sure make my own bread. I'll spend the extra $320 or $458 this year on something luxurious, like ... milk.
* Flour is that expensive because of a global shortage of wheat because of (in part) an overgrowth of corn because of an energy drive toward corn-based ethanol, combined with the falling value of the dollar, combined with rising transportation costs caused by the high price of fuel caused by the high price of oil caused by the high demand caused by (in part) America's insistence on driving swaggering-dick SUVs and Congress' unconscionable refusal to investigate oil companies and hold them accountable for price-fixing and other illegal acts.


  1. Some synchronicity going on here: I did the very same thing last week: found a used West Bend (same machine, even) on craigslist (you got a better deal!) and got to work with Moore's fantastic flour, yeast and other goodies.

    Good to make even such a small step toward local self-sufficiency. And it's lovely to wake up to the smell of fresh bread baking, too!


  2. Laurie, I tried their packaged mixes for bread machines, too. They're about $2. Three-Seed, Walnut & Cranberry, and 10-Grain, all delicious. The men in my house even liked the fru-fru cranberry bread.