David Beringer is the Uphill Baker. His passion for local organic food and his commitment to keeping food fresh and affordable is what gives us this Kootenay staple. He mixes dough in an old Hobart mixer, shapes it on a polished marble table, and bakes it in a new convection oven. With his mighty electric tricycle, David delivers his bread fossil-fuel free for most of the year!
What do you make?
I bake bread, pure and simple, using all organic flours and grain mixes.
How would you describe your True Local operation?
When my wife Valerie (check out her True Local profile here) and I met in 2008, we had both worked in a variety of fields but our common interest was “The Environment.” We talked a lot about what we could do to bring about a societal shift to living more sustainably on this planet. We agreed that what and how we feed ourselves plays a big role in our impact on the world. We decided that setting up small-scale food businesses would enable us to earn a living while offering others the opportunity to buy locally-produced food: bread, soup, and sauerkraut.
We’d like to see more people moving in this direction so that eventually, we stop trucking, shipping, and flying in our basic necessities (i.e. food) from all around the planet!
That’s part of what I love so much about my job and our Co-op. Eating, working, and being local is all in a day’s work! How long have you been baking Uphill bread?
I took over the Uphill Bakery on February 1, 2013 and moved it into a brand-new 180 ft facility attached to our home.
What motivated you to start this small-scale local food business?
When the founding owner was ready to retire, he asked whether I would be interested in continuing the Uphill Bakery. I thought about it and weighed my options, eventually deciding to accept the challenge of running my own business. Working from home, with no commercial lease to pay, I was convinced I could make a modest living by baking good, organic bread strictly for the local market.
Well, we’re sure glad to have local bread here in Nelson! What are some of your greatest joys?
Hearing from satisfied customers that they like my bread – especially the crispy light rye. Also, on a daily basis, watching the bread “spring up” and begin to form a nice crust through the glass doors of the oven gives me joy. Of course, delivering my breads with the eco-friendly orange electric tricycle is always a pleasure. The “ELF” makes all kinds of people smile.
What are some of your greatest challenges?
Bread is a unique product with a very short shelf life. Most people agree that it’s served best fresh, so my greatest challenge is baking enough to meet the demand, but not one loaf more… Every loaf I take back from the store is a financial loss, and for a small – some would say “tiny” business – that can quickly become a problem. My greatest challenge is trying to match supply with demand.
What is your vision for your bakery?
My vision is to be one of several small bakers who provide the staple food of bread to customers in Nelson and area. I would like to enable more people to have a direct connection with the people who make their food. I think that making and maintaining this connection is crucial in an ever-expanding “global food market”.
So you care so much about local food, you’d rather “compete” with other local bakers than with faraway bread factories. I think that says a lot! That brings me to my next question, why are local food and local purchasing important to you?
Local food and local purchasing are incredibly important to me. I am able to earn a modest living people are willing to buy my product locally. I can’t compete on price and “marketing pizzazz” with large bread factories in Quebec, Ontario, Colorado, or even Vancouver. Currently, transport (fuel) costs are very low. As a society we are not fully cognizant of the implications of our fossil fuel use. Future generations may live to curse us for our wasteful ways! Buying local food – grown and/or produced – is one way we can all help to ensure a livable climate on our planet. Eating local is definitely one of the easiest ways we can do our part to slow the destabilization of our climate. Plus it builds up a more resilient community!
If you could deliver a message directly to our members, what would it be?
I would like to ask that you please consider your purchases carefully. How far did a product travel? Is it in season here? If not, where is it being grown and under what conditions? What did people in the West Kootenay region eat before the age of air freight and global shipping? Can we all make some small sacrifices in order to enable our neighbours to earn a living in the local food business?
Those are all important questions for a responsible consumer! Thank you for your time.
Thank you for buying locally made bread!