Monday, November 19, 2012

Veganic Bread?

I don't do product endorsements. Actually, what I mean is that I have never endorsed a specific brand of any type of product on My Face Is on Fire before (at least not deliberately or in a way in which I wrapped a post around said endorsement). It's just never really come up and the truth is that it gets so tricky sometimes to figure out who owns what and which vegan company just got snapped up by which Mega Corp that it's never interested me all that much. Then several weeks ago, I got a friendly email from a representative of a company called One Degree Organic Foods asking me if I'd like to try out their bread.

Now, the funny thing is that if you scroll through the hundreds of food photos I've posted on this blog every month or so for the last few years, you'll see that bread doesn't turn up often. Well, bread loaves of the sort you slice don't turn up often. My obsession with pizza precariously held in check, the only wheat based baked things you'll find more often than "almost never" are wraps, pita bread and the odd organic kamut roll. After checking out the One Degree Organic Foods website, though, I found myself too intrigued to shrug off the offer. See, One Degree's breads are not only organic, but they're veganic. The company sources its ingredients from farmers who use only plant-based fertilizers to grow their non-GMO crops and uses these ingredients to make their healthy and wholesome Canada Organic and USDA Organic certified bread.

It also used something called QR codes which mean little to a more often than not unplugged Luddite like me. Apparently this means that each loaf of their bread has a code on it that can be scanned with a gadget like a smartphone (I wish someone would offer to send me a free smartphone to review for my blog!) so that the purchaser can get detailed information on each ingredient used in the bread. I couldn't try this out myself, but will take their word for it that it works.

What I was good at, on the other hand, was finding things to do with the bread. I was sent a loaf each of their Lentil Grain, Ancient Whole Wheat, Flax and Spelt and Sesame Sunflower breads. My favourites were definitely the Lentil Grain and Sesame Sunflower and I hope to track them down locally in the future. I did ask 2-3 times if I could obtain some coupons for a blog giveaway, but no dice. All I can leave you with are some photos of various ways in which I sampled and devoured some of the crazy amount of bread I was sent.

Organic tofu marinated in soya sauce, ketchup, sesame oil and dried onion flakes, dredged in multigrain flour/nutritional yeast and pan-fried with sliced red onion. Tomato, pickles, avocado and ketchup on lightly-toasted veganic Ancient Whole Wheat bread.
Avocado mashed with lemon juice, crushed garlic and scallions, grilled portobello (it's in there!), tomato and Dijon on One Degree Veganic Sesame Sunflower bread. Broccoli slaw tossed with red bell pepper, parsley and sesame/lemon dressing.
Veganic Lentil Grain bread topped with mushrooms, nooch gravy, cheddar Daiya and fries. Peas on the side.
Flax and Spelt toast with Earth Balance and nooch and a big smear of organic strawberry jam.
Cabbage slaw with Vegenaise. Pickles, tomatoes and Tofurky slice with Dijon mustard on Lentil Grain bread.
Grilled Daiya cheddar  sandwch on Lentil Grain bread. Broccoli slaw tossed with red bell pepper, parsley and sesame/lemon dressing.


veganelder said...

I checked and they don't offer their products here in central Oklahoma...maybe that will change in the future. Thanks for writing about this thoughtful group of folks.

M said...

I got really excited about this. It's the next big step in terms of ethical food production. I avoid GMOs wherever easily possible and the truth is that a lot of organic farming relies on animal products (and thus the continuation of animal use). It's all so unnecessary and I hope to see demand for veganically-grown products to increase and to see other companies like these pop up and succeed.

Unknown said...

It is often important to go beyond a company's website when researching their products and suppliers. Don and Emily Hladych and Charlotte Ruechel run Vale farms and raise animals for slaughter as does Dwayne Woolhouse of Crestview Organic Farms Inc in Saskatchewan. As a vegan who cares about animals, do you really want to be supporting such a "veganic" farmer?

I did my research into the term veganic in Oct 2011 (see:["Veganic" does not equal "vegan"] on veganforum). Now I see all these vegan bloggers have started getting free loaves of bread over the past year and a half and have begun promoting OneDegree/Silver Hills. "Vegan organic" is not the same as "veganic" or "stockfree"; Iain Tolhurst of Stockfree Organic Services-UK (or SOS, a.k.a. Vegan Organic Network-UK[VON]) has stated publicly that he refuses to use the term "veganic" because it implies that the farmer is also vegan/living a vegan lifestyle or running a vegan farm. I am frustrated that so many in the vegan community have allowed themselves to be played by One Degree and their slick media campaign and newly created veganic website (2012).

Firstly, grain farming was historically extensive in nature and frequently would have been included at the end of a large prairie farm's growing rotation (possible like Crestview). The combines used back then didn't save the straw; that was plowed in and the land lay fallow the next year. This meant that fertilization would not have been of much importance for grains, as the land was to be fallow afterward. Fertilization is a more modern event which came with the green revolution of synthetic fertilizers and dwarf plant varieties. Vale farms and Crestview could easily be mucking one field with their livestock manures, leaving it fallow (green manuring as well) or growing something non-veganic on the same piece of land. They could also be grazing animals on it and then grow Spelt the next year on the same land, claiming that they did not include animal inputs (that particular year, the last so many years, etc...). How would you ever know, as there is no offical veganic certification standard and no third party regulation of "veganic" farmers here in Canada (this is also true of the 3 farms listed on their veganic website). It appears both Vale & Crestview are certified organic, but other than that they are like any other organic farm in Canada. Just like Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) thought they could gain a marketing advantage with the word "Veganic", it seems One Degree has taken the same ploy.

So which would you rather support:
1) a vegan organic farm that does not raise animals and uses stockfree methods, run by a vegan farmer,
2) an organic, stockfree farm that does not raise livestock, run by a non-vegan,
3) an organic farm that does not raise any livestock, run by a non-vegan or,
4) a "veganic" (A.K.A. stockfree) farm that raises livestock for slaughter (examples: Vale Farms & Vale Farms Grassroots Ltd, & Crestview Organic Farms) promoted by a company that obfuscates that fact, until they get discovered and gear into damage control. One Degree's suppliers could have registered with the UK Stockfree Organic Service in North America as stockfree, or at the very least One Degree could have chosen the more accurate term "stockfree", which would have eliminated all of the confusion in the first place. So at best, the three organic farms currently being presented on One Degree's new website are no different than the third option - remember these farms have no stockfree or veganic certification.

(One Degree VP) Danny Houghton on VeganForum to bQ (Dec 20, 2011).
"We simply chose not to use our media influence to highlight a part of Vale Farms that we don't personally resonate with."