Bread can be made with just four simple ingredients: yeast, unbleached and unbromated flour, water, and a pinch of salt. But over the years, artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, and more have snuck their way into bread. We’re all about innovation and tantalizing flavors at Earth Fare, but why can’t anyone just leave bread alone? We talked to Jenn Howard, bakery manager at our South Asheville store, about why bread (and our whole bakery department) at Earth Fare is just that: bread. Clean, simple, and delicious as ever.

Earth Fare: Why did you start baking?

Jenn Howard: I’ve always loved baking. My great grandmother baked, my grandmother kind of, but my great grandmother did, and I just loved baking. You make nice treats, and it makes people happy … I actually learned more about scratch baking here then I did when I was at A-B Tech. I mean, we did one or two loaves, but here, it’s mass quantities, so that was really interesting to me, to learn how to make the breads from scratch.

EF: What about Earth Fare’s bakery do you think people would be most interested to learn?

JH: It’s Clean. There’s no chemicals, there’s no additives. What you see is what you get. There’s no mystery ingredients. It was a transition for me coming from [a non-natural grocer] to here because they had all the food colorings. Buckets would come in, and that’s not natural. [At Earth Fare,] we have three food colorings, yellow is tumeric, then you have the red which is red beets or cabbage, and the blue is the same. But our baking, our pastries, even our croissants are Clean. You won’t have to worry about the harsh chemicals if you have an allergic reaction to anything like that. You might have a milk allergy, but there’s nothing [synthetic] that will affect you, which is great. And at least you feel better about it, if you’re going to be naughty and have a pastry, at least it’s a good, healthy pastry.

EF: Do you think there’s an obvious taste difference between our baked goods compared to other places?

JH: There is. If you’ve had them from other places, you get a waxy kind of coating in some of them. Even our vegan that’s made with vegetable shortening, you still don’t get that gritty taste to it, so when you bite into it, you can taste the difference. You can taste that it’s fresh.

EF: What’s your favorite thing to bake?

JH: Breads. My favorite bread is that cheddar scallion bread. That is so good. It’s a sourdough base bread, and then you’ve got cheddar, you’ve got scallions, like how could you go wrong with that combination?

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