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The New York Times has a story about the slow death of local bakery businesses in France, where "the lights inside the village bakery used to come on before dawn, an hour or so before the smell of baking bread would waft into neighbors’ homes. The storefront door would soon be heard, opening and closing, the rhythm as predictable as the life stirring awake across the French countryside."

The sad fact is that "young people are no longer drawn to the long hours of the traditional bakers who live above their store. Shopping malls have taken root on the periphery of rural areas, drawing in people who are content to buy at supermarkets or chains. Customers, especially the young, are not eating as much bread."

The Times writes that "traveling in rural France these days means spotting closed bakeries, the faded paint on old windows and doors giving an indication of when the lights went out. It means encountering people mentioning with visible relief that their village still has one … the bakery is very often the one business that clings on after the disappearance of the butcher shop, the grocer or cafe … Given the centrality of bread in France, and its links to its religious practices and political history, the vanishing of traditional bakeries has also come to symbolize the waning of the country’s rich village life."

In some ways, France is dealing with the same urbanization issues as the US: "The number of bakeries overall is increasing in France, especially in big cities. In Paris, people walking home at the end of the day, munching on a bit of baguette, remains a part of the cityscape.
But traditional mom-and-pop bakeries in rural areas are disappearing quickly - sometimes at a rate of four percent, or even higher, within a single year."

You can read the story here.
KC's View:
C'est la vie.

This actually is kind of a sad story … and I think that it fair to say that most of us can sort of envision that stereotypical French village, because we've read about it in books or seen it portrayed in films and television shows. It is sad when this happens.

That said, in my little Connecticut town, a small bakery recently opened. They sell croissants and a couple of different kinds of bread. It smells great, the products taste great, and "closing time" is whenever they run out. Reading this story makes me think I ought to spend a little bit more of my money there … and then I ought to put my mouth where my money is. If you want to preserve a tradition, you have to be willing to invest in it.