“Garbage In, Garbage Out” is the old corporate ethos to describe failures in quality and consistency at every end. Begin with inferior raw products, a poor value system or less-than-stellar team members, and expect to push out a product that is equally low quality. So what’s it called when you begin your corporate journey with integrity, carry yourself with pride through every phase of operation and produce goods that are well-known, even lauded, market-wide?
Whatever the proper phrasing — quality in, quality out, perhaps — there are precious few companies that subscribe to this ethereal mantra, especially in the food universe. Scaling anything from baked goods to wholesale meats to packaged snacks usually means a compromise somewhere in the chain, in order to keep products fresh, customers happy and margins high. But for King Arthur Flour, there are no anonymous stakeholders to answer to, no corporate whales taking up a disproportionate share of the financial tank. The Vermont-based flour and baking accessories house can afford to conduct themselves with sincerity, because everyone who works a shift in the employee-owned company is a shareholder themselves. From corner office to mop closet, everyone has a stage in the gains.
All of this is to say that King Arthur Flour is able to do things with more passion than most, and lately that desire to connect, reach out and — most importantly — to serve as a source for good in the community has been making its way west.
A recent Bake For Good three-city tour sponsored by King Arthur brought out food writers and bloggers in Minneapolis, Seattle and Los Angeles to learn the basics of bread making and pie creation, and then turned those skills outward to serve full dinners (rolls and sweets provided) to underserved neighbors in those same cities.
As an invited guest to the Los Angeles leg of the Bake For Good tour, I got to experience the pride and values of King Arthur firsthand, along with the care and attention given by its employees. At every level, from a day one baking session inside of a commercial kitchen in North Hollywood to a second day spent touring Homeboy Industries and serving meals at PATH, those good-humored Vermonters did more than speak about corporate responsibility and community action; they lived it, side by side with a handful of Angelenos like me.
That same dedication is felt in every bag of King Arthur flour you’ll find on the shelves. Unless you follow the comings and goings of local millers Grist & Toll, the notion of seeking out and relying on top-tier flours for everyday baking can feel more Portlandia than proper thinking. But this is “quality in, quality out” territory, where everything matters.
From their midwestern grain farms to their finessed milling operation in the great Northeast, King Arthur has committed themselves to that quality, and the results can be tasted in the pies, breads and pastries being made by discerning bakers. Which brings us back to Bake For Good, the recent campaign that seeks to combine community action with communal responsibility, by empowering purchasers to bake not just for themselves, but to give away their offerings to those around them — especially those in need. Bake a loaf of bread for yourself, and another for someone who might not otherwise enjoy enough to eat. Make two dozen cookies, and drop the second batch off at a local women’s shelter. Giving back, one simple cup of flour at a time, is at the heart of what King Arthur Flour does. And there’s no better raw product to work with than compassion.
To join the King Arthur Flour Bake For Good movement, head over here.