The idea of trading one product for another – bartering – goes clear back to 6000 B.C. when tribes in Mesopotamia traded goods with Phoenicians. The practice was also used in Babylon.
The origin of the word barter goes back to the 15th century, stemming from the French word “barater,” which, among other things, meant “haggle.”
America’s barter system was very popular during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when many people had little money. Bartering was a means of obtaining food and other necessities.
When I was approached about the possibility of trading bread for other products – including naturally raised beef – I could hardly say no!
Since I had already calculated the value of a loaf of homemade white bread – which ranges between $1 and $1.50 – it was fairly easy to strike a deal on a fair trade for one pound of the beef. Two loaves of white bread – 100% organic – for one pound of beef, 100% natural.
It has proven to be a beneficial trade on both sides.
Photo by Loretta Sorensen
Since that trade has been working so well – and I find it so easy to produce a quality loaf of bread – I’ve been pondering more options for making a trade.
In rural areas – and perhaps more often now in urban areas, too – farm fresh eggs aren’t hard to find. If the eggs are organic and laid by free range hens, the cost of a dozen eggs may well be equal to two loaves of bread. Of course, that depends on the flour and other nutrients used in the bread.
When you’re baking 100% whole grain bread, it has a value of at least $4 per loaf. If your recipe includes added nutritional ingredients such as flax, the total cost of a loaf may be somewhat higher.
To calculate the cost of producing your bread, review this article.
Once you’ve determined what you have invested in your bread loaves, compare it with the cost of purchasing the item you will take in trade. Your objective is to complete a trade that’s fair for all parties involved.
When I bartered for the beef, we struck a deal that covered a weekly trade for about 12 weeks. You may want to make a one-time trade or set up a once-a-month agreement. The terms of the agreement are totally in your control.
In the case of bartering for homemade bread, be careful not to overestimate your ability to produce enough bread to cover your trade agreement. If you need to produce multiple loaves of bread in a short time, consider implementing my “Bread Express” method.
You may also want to strike a deal with your bartering party that includes how you will amend the agreement or “catch up” with your trade agreement if for some reason you can’t produce the promised loaves.
One added benefit of this kind of agreement is that you will have ample opportunity to polish your bread baking skills and promote your bread quality and availability if you’re wanting to make more trades or sell some of your bread.
Long time journalist Loretta Sorensen is the author of Secrets To Baking Your Best Bread Ever! and regularly shares information about whole grains and bread baking. You’ll find her book on her blog site at www.bakeyourbestever.com, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the Country Store at Our Dakota Horse Tales. Her weekly bread baking posts are featured at Mother Earth Living, GRIT Magazine, Our Dakota Horse Tales, and on Pinterest, and Facebook.