I’m Megan—food writer and unprocessed eater. I’m the managing editor of Edible Baja Arizona, a local food magazine serving Tucson and the borderlands, and author of Unprocessed, forthcoming from William Morrow/HarperCollins in 2015. Three years ago, I decided to stop eating processed food and spend money better. Stay tuned for tips & tricks and advice & adventures about unprocessed eating and living.
This article was published in the March/April issue of Edible Baja Arizona.
Don Guerra works alone. He spends 70 hours a week baking bread in a two-car garage-turned-bakery. His process is slow—the life cycle of a loaf is 24 hours—but his work is quick. He mixes flour into dough, shapes dough into loaf, bakes loaf into bread—time after time, 750 loaves a week. He has the build of an endurance athlete and baking 750 loaves a week—alone—is an endurance sport.
Don Guerra works with people—with farmers and millers, teachers and students, with Arizonans and with bakers from across the world. Twelve hundred people regularly buy loaves from Guerra’s Barrio Bread and he knows all but a handful of their names.
Guerra has one employee supporting his work. He founded Barrio Bread in 2009 and ran it as a one-man show until 2011, when he hired his first employee, Ginger Snider, who now works eight hours a week helping with packaging and distribution.
Guerra has a community supporting his work. When the 44-year-old baker shows up at markets, customers rush over to his van to help him unload baskets full of bread. Two of his neighbors volunteer as delivery drivers. Others help him distribute at markets. “A huge part of my success and how I can get so much bread out there is that people want to be a part of the process and lend a hand,” he says.
Don Guerra is a community-supported baker—almost every loaf of bread he makes has been pre-ordered online; he is a baker literally powered by consumer demand. Without a brick-and-mortar storefront, he sells his bread at four schools, one farmers’ market, at the Tucson CSA’s Tuesday and Wednesday pickups, and at River Road Gardens.
Guerra is supported by a community that buys his bread—and Guerra supports his community by envisioning a future for local food that extends far beyond bread. “The bread is a vehicle to connect community,” says Guerra. “To get people to be proud of where they live and invested in their communities.” He pauses. “I guess I say ‘community’ a lot.”