“Where did this bread come from?” asked a guest at our dinner table. “It’s delicious.” To that question, there is a very short answer. But there is also a longer answer that goes to the heart of Buddhist meditative practice.
The short answer is that the Deli-Style Rye we were enjoying came from Sisters Kneading Dough, a home bakery in Almond, New York. Every Friday afternoon, the sisters Beth and Jayne arrive at Quest Farm with their trays of bread and muffins, still warm from the oven. On that particular Friday, my wife, Robin, and I also arrived, and we came home with the Deli-Style Rye, along with a loaf of Robin’s favorite, Cinnamon Swirl. That, in short, is where the bread on our table came from.
The longer answer is that the bread came from sources too numerous to mention. Deli-Style Rye is made from organic bread flour (wheat and barley), whole wheat flour, water, whole rye flour, caraway seeds, honey, yeast, and canola oil. And each of these ingredients has a history of its own. Without the work of the bees and their keepers, there would have been no honey. Without sunlight, water, earth, and the labors of the farmers, distributors, truckers, and the rest, there would have been no flour, yeast, or canola oil. Without our driving to Quest Farm on a Friday afternoon, the Deli-style Rye would never have reached our home. Like anything else that we might conventionally regard as a single thing, the bread on our table was an aggregate of countless, interconnected things, without which it could not have come into being. And as its quick disappearance demonstrated, it was not really a solid object but a transitory node in the web of life, an event in a never-ending process. (more…)