Everyone eats white bread nowadays. It is believed to have always been present on the dinner tables of the majority of American citizens. However, the importance of white bread is always undervalued. Somehow, it is often viewed as something that is always available for everyone, like fresh air and United States Constitution. The old proverb says that ‘nothing is certain except death and taxes’ and it can be effectively amplified to ‘nothing is certain except death, taxes and white bread’. In other words, every citizen of the United States of America is assured that when he approaches to the bakery, nothing ever impedes him to purchase a loaf of white bread. The economy may be entirely disrupted by the financial crisis, the troops may invade Iraq and Iran and whatever Arabic country, but the bread is always in the bakery. So, if one has a couple of dollars, one will not famish.
However, no one, except for outstanding United States writer Aaron Bobrow-Stain has ever pondered over the importance of this commodity. In his fantastic and exclusively informative book “White bread, A social history of the Store-Bought Loaf” he discourses about the role played by this “industrial white bread that has played a largely unnoticed role in American politics, diet, culture and food reforms. Mr. Bobrow Stain in his revolutionary book contrived to demonstrate the importance of white bread to the economic, financial and cultural spheres of the society. This essay focuses on the influence that white bread has exercised to the United States’ civil society, in general, and to the abovementioned spheres, in particular.
Cultural Impact of the White Bread
It may sound unbelievable that the entire cultural diversity of the United States of America directly depends on the availability of the white bread on the shelves of the stores. Admittedly, it does not. However, the importance and the contribution of the white bread must not be underestimated. Although it is not a keystone of the United States’ cultural progress, it is an important part of the cultural evolution.
British etymologists found out that the modern English word “lord” is derived from the old English title “Hlaford”, the one, “who keeps the bread”. Naturally, nowadays, the bread is not the principal factor that assures the physical existence of the nations (Cronon, 1993). However, namely white bread in its essence permanently demonstrates that the nation is culturally prospering. In other words, when the citizens of the country constantly eat white bread, it signifies that the economic interests of the citizens are satisfied, and the next step is to satisfy the cultural needs of the society. It shall be illustrated, that at the very outset of the twentieth century, the factory-baked loaf of the white bread opened the new perspectives for the industrial workers, opposing it to the dusty and dirty bakeries run by the business men from overseas, who were in their majority Italian and Irish immigrants. Factory manufactured white bread was excessively saturated with vitamins and was labeled as patriotic and “American” food. In the early 60th, the bread was the determinant of the race, gender and nativism of the United States inhabitants. Wide debates have been deployed to find out what type of bread shall be considered the healthiest, which methods are deemed to the best in terms of safety, which sorts of the bread are favored by the business and the political elites of the United States’ society. Bobrow-Strain does not make accent on the history of the bread, while he deliberately highlights the discrepancies in the consumption of the white bread by various ethnic groups and social classes. As in illustration, the author specifies that the White American Protestants of the middle class consume this foodstuff every day, while for the poor, Afro Americans and Hispanics, this type of food has always been viewed as an unaffordable luxury.
When the massive production of the white bread was launched, it was immediately reflected in the cinema and the radio. An aggressive advertising campaign was initiated to attract the new customers to the commodity, which had been unaffordable for them previously. White bread was associated with the prosperity, well-being and success. In other words, white bread was no longer the prerogative of the rich white Americans. Industrially baked white bread was considered to be healthier, more sanitary and safer alternative to home-baked or purchased in the immigrants’ shops wheat breads.
It should be noted that since the robots started to bake bagels of white bread automatically, the entire culture of home-baking vanished. No longer did the mothers of the United States families visited market with the aim to purchase wheat to bake bread in the oven themselves. The entire cultural epoch of home baking was eradicated.
However, the industrialization of the white bread production exercised a positive cultural impact on the United States’ society. It is known that “bread is an industrial food”, and the industrial and information ages that are now reining in the United States of America demanding that the proper foodstuff should be provided. Industrially manufactured white bread is the best tool to serve the interests of the communities.
Furthermore, the emergence of the industrially baked white bread on the United States’ market contributed significantly to the development of the art in the United States of America. White bread became one of the most frequently featured protagonists in the movies, theatre stages and songs.
Overall, it is an undisputed fact that white bread played an extremely important role in the cultural life of the United States.
White Bread and Economy
White Bread and Taxes
However unbelievable it may sound, white bread is an inherent factor of the prosperity of the United States’ economy. Big supply chains and newly-established (since 60th) bakeries are reported to be one of the most contributing tax payers and social developers of the communities. Billions of dollars paid annually fill both federal and state budgets. This money is used by the state authorities to finance educational and social initiatives in the United States of America. Moreover, new hospitals and long-term healthcare facilities are ubiquitously located throughout this country. It is evident, that this practice is favored both by the Congress of the United States and by the Internal Revenue Service, due to the fact that bakery-related industries obtain the extra tax privileges and tax holidays. Naturally, this policy is aimed at promoting the industry and urging the further development of bakeries in the United States (Cronon, 1993). The authorities comprehend the ideas that, since more bakeries are erected, more taxes are paid and more available funds will be allocated to the necessitating industries (Davidson, 1999).
Bread and Unemployment
The second positive aspect of the white bread culture is the fact that white bread is the effective tool against the ever waged war against the unemployment rates of the country. Undoubtedly, both the United States Labor service and its international analogues (World Labors Association), trade unions and other labor-related associations realize that the white bread is an influential ally in this war. As it has been stated in the previous passage, white bread is manufactured in big bakeries. A huge amount of new job places are reported to have been created in the United States. Moreover, it shall be accentuated that the vast net of adjoined industries is subsiding on the development of the white bread industr). Cafes, restaurants and retail bakery stores create thousands of job places and job-seekers are always attracted to these industries. Besides, it was reported that bakeries are among those companies, who are the least vulnerable to the repercussions of the economic instabilities. As Mr. Bobrow-Strain pertinently cited the Bible, “the man did subsist on bread alone).
White Bread, Agriculture and Science
With the developments of the mass bakeries on the national level, the agricultural industries started to evolve with the revolutionary steps. Under the tenure of the United States Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace the production of wheat, corn and related products reached the maximum rates. His successor, Earl Butz was promoting the policy of consolidated small farmers’ households into multinational agricultural corporations. The industry is reported to grow continuously; therefore, the interests of big farming corporations are always vigorously lobbied and advocated in the United States Senate. A huge number of legal instruments have been adopted to assure the development of the industry, e.g. Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act, Food Security Act 1985, Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act of 1990. These acts guaranteed governmental financial help for the leading agricultural institutions in case of economic hardships and other crisis-related events. Naturally, it must be noted that the major part of the entire agricultural output is wheat, which serves as a major ingredient for the white bread. Evidently, the policies which are promoted by the United States Agricultural Agencies purport that wheat in general and white bread in particular are considered to be strategic supplies by the United States government.
The importance of white bread is an important impetus to scientific researches and studies. Various extensive studies are finances by both state agencies and private institution). The aim of those studies is to guarantee the highest standards in agriculture and to achieve the highest productivity rates with the minimized efforts and the least possible detriment to the ambience. To illustrate, the Northeast Center for Agricultural and Occupational Center Cooperstown and Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention of the University of Kentucky are considered to be the leading institutions of the industry. Various scholars therein are permanently conducting versatile researches aimed at ensuring the highest standards of the foodstuff derived from the products of agricultural origi).
White Bread as an Economic Weapon of Strategic Significance
White bread and wheat which is used for its production are not produced purely for the internal consumption by the citizens of the United States, but they are widely exported to the neighborhood states and overseas. Notably, big exports take place annually to Mexico. Although Mexico is an extremely lucrative market for the United States’ producers, internal produces in Mexico, both big corporation and small farmers’ household are on the verge of the economic collapse, i.e. complete bankruptcy loom permanently over them. According to Mr. Bobrow, cheap corn and wheat exported by the United States to Mexico threatens to displace more than a million of small farmers in Mexico. Therefore, if the United States of America intend to gain the additional influence in Mexico, it is sufficient to increase export volumes of wheat into this country. Besides, in conformity with the recently issued statement of the Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center of the Washington University, the nutritional quality of the wheat of the US origin dominates on the global market and is slightly superseded by the grain imported from Australia and France (Davidson, 1999). In the American continent, the US-grown corn is considered the best (Cronon, 1993). It is appraised in Chile, Argentina, Canada, Paraguay, Uruguay, and in other states. These countries do not have the slightest conjecture that their economies may be affected not by the highly-intricate manipulations with dollars and state loans, but merely by the initiatives of the privately-owned agricultural institutions.
White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf authored by the prominent professor, Ph.D. Aaron Bobrow Strain provides a deep understating of the importance of white bread in the development of the United States. The reader understands that under the term ‘white bread’, the United States’ economy connotes not solely a freshly baked loaf of bread, but the sophisticated system of integral constituents, i.e. grain, workers, facilities, combine harvesters, bakeries, sale points and other elements of the industrial chain (Bobrow-Strain, 2012). It is deliberately highlighted that while a single loaf of white bread is insignificant, white bread as a system is one of the pillars of both the United States’ economy and the United States’ civil society.
White bread baked in the United States plays an important cultural role. It is widely depicted in the movies, commercial advertisements and related areas. It is viewed as a necessary element of the American Dream, as Coca-Cola, Hammer and Wall-Street. Apart from being a cultural idol, white bread is significant economically. Federal and local budgets largely subside on the agricultural giants, as well bakery chains. The necessity to cultivate the healthiest white bread gives the broad opportunities and financing to various research institutions.
Moreover, even an outwardly peaceful loaf of white bread is a deadly economic weapon which threats the economies of the United States’ competitors all over the word. Leveraging import and export operations, the United State may easily boost or oppress the economies of their neighbors.
Overall, it is evident that white bread is not merely a foodstuff. It is a means of existence, prosperity and success.