My brother, Fred, the bread baker and the value of one’s labor…

It is Mische Urban Myth that our Mom loves all of us equally and that none of us are her favorite child.  The more common understanding among my siblings is that I am, indeed, the favorite child.  It is an uncomfortable burden but one I feel obliged to accept as the chronological middle child of nine children.

But, I digress.  This post isn’t about me, nor is it necessarily about my brother, Fred, the break baker.

It is, however, about the value of one’s labor.

In watching my brother the past few weekends ply his trade for hours and hours on end it struck me that what he does has to be exceptionally difficult and challenging work.  Furthermore, the margins for his labor must be as thin as the tasty dough he creates for his exceptional pastries that he sells at his Fred’s Bread retail arm of his business.

Fred has always been a hard worker.  He possesses a combination of self-confidence about what he is capable of doing along with a passion for what he does.  It doesn’t surprise me that his bread has a growing following, or that he and his wife, Mandy, have been recognized for their outlandishly delicious bakery products.

It’s worth a trip to his website to learn more about his work and passion for all things bread!

In a day and age of when we can travel down to the grocery store — or the local gas station — and grab a loaf of bread — it is easy for us to forget that there was a time, not so long ago, when bread didn’t come always in a plastic bag you could get without as much as a second thought.

My Mom would make bread from scratch.  I still remember the big plastic bowls of gooey dough, the rolling pins, the flour, the kneading and that remarkable scent of freshly made bread wafting throughout the house!

And, if you want a drug induced stupor without the drugs, a slice of that bread, warm, covered with whatever it was that caught your fancy, was all you needed!

My Mom never got paid for all that hard work — unless you count the tremendous blessing of having 9 children — and the even more amazing gift of her middle child.

Yet, what she did with that bread — and all else that she did for her family — was hard and difficult work.

Today, the value of one’s labor is all too often lost in ideological and partisan battles over what is a “fair” minimum wage — or what is too much money for a CEO to make for running a company.

John D. Rockfeller once said, “I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.”

I thought about that a lot this morning, watching Fred labor over something that is both his love and his living.  With the heat of his ovens, the dust of his flour and the strength of his hands his labor makes food for living and a living for his family.

It would be good for us to remember the human dignity of one’s labor.  To diminish the value of one’s labor is to diminish the value of human dignity.

Just some food (and Fred’s Bread) for thought!

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