Monday, February 11, 2019

How to bake a new world

I've got a new passion: bread making! My girlfriend even says it's already gone far beyond a passion and has become an obsession. Bowls and bags of flour are taking up all empty space in the kitchen and the oven is almost constantly on. I feel like I'm doing a master degree, I read books and articles and study videos on YouTube. Lots of videos! A couple of weeks ago I had one of my occasional down days and when a good friend heard about it she sent me a message, trying to cheer me up and telling me not to watch any doomsday videos online. I laughed out loud and sent her a message back: “You know the suggestions you get on your YouTube feed? All I get these days are videos of people making bread. There's no space left for doomsday stuff!”

Every bread has four basic ingredients: flour, water, salt and something that makes it rise, ie yeast or sourdough. But a really good bread needs a fifth ingredient. Something that most breads you find in shops nowadays lack. It's a very simple yet also incredibly precious and important ingredient: time.

Some of the breads I make take over 24 hours. However, the amount of work needed for mixing the ingredients, for kneading, forming and scoring is actually quite small – most of the time the dough just sits there and slowly develops and ferments. It made me think of writing: A book can be written very quickly, but a good book needs time. And just like with making bread, the time spent writing isn't that much – what takes so long is the slow fermentation of ideas.

Looking at the world and the changes that are so desperately needed, perhaps it's a similar story as with bread making and writing. There are lots of ideas out there to make everything better, for people and the planet, and some of these ideas are already put into practice. Sometimes I get impatient though when I observe the slow progress, I get frustrated because I feel that everything should be changed today. It's hard to accept, but maybe certain changes simply need time too. Because just like you can't expect a good bread in one hour or a great book in one month, neither can you expect a perfect world in one year.

With all the accelerating environmental problems and social conflicts, the question is of course whether we have enough time to patiently wait for a better world. Perhaps it will be too late if we don't speed up our actions very soon, if we don't start to live in a sustainable and peaceful way latest by tomorrow. But even if we got our act together right now, it would still take time until we see major positive results. No matter how much we hurry, we still need to be patient and allow the changes to grow organically. Like watching ideas unfold into stories and a bit of flour and water turn into a beautiful, delicious bread.

Thoughts alone don't write any books though, just like time alone won't turn the bread ingredients into a tasty loaf. Ideas need to be put on paper and the dough needs to be kneaded and cared for. In other words: It requires time AND action to write a beautiful future and bake a new world.


You can find this blog also on my new website, together with books, films and mix tapes –


  1. I'm tempted to say "We Are Toast".... maybe with some home-made marmalade to sweeten the taste? Keep on baking and rise to the occasion Claus, much love and yeast, Lou

  2. Yes Claus, I agree. I am heading up a case in Ecuador to prevent a catastrophe occuring in the upper Amazon basin owing to an inevitable Tailings Dam collapse. The formation and presentation of the case follows bread making- the yeast is the development of team, presentation and in a few weeks we will be in court defending the Rights of Nature. WE ALL MAKE A DIFFERENCE