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84 Businesses Honored as ‘Best for the Environment’
Today, 84 companies worldwide were recognized for creating the most positive environmental impact by the nonprofit B Lab with the release of the third annual "B Corp Best for the Environment" list. The "B Corp Best for the Environment" list honors businesses that earned an environmental impact score in the top 10 percent of all Certified B Corporations on the B Impact Assessment, a rigorous and comprehensive assessment of a company's impact on its workers, community and the environment. Honorees were recognized among micro, small and mid-sized businesses.
Highlighted companies include outdoor retailers Patagonia and GoLite, home and personal care companies Method and Seventh Generation, employee-owned, craft brewery New Belgium Brewery and the 20 year old waste reduction and management company, WasteZero.
The "Best for the Environment" companies come from more than 30 different industries such as financial services, consulting, apparel and personal care. Thirty-six percent operate in the service sector, 33 percent in wholesale/retail and 25 percent in manufacturing. A quarter of honorees are based outside the U.S., with 13 percent of companies operating in emerging markets including Brazil, Colombia and Chile.
“It’s great to see so many diverse companies on this year’s 'Best for the Environment' list,” says B Lab co founder, Jay Coen Gilbert. “With representatives from 30 different industries, it shows that all companies can compete to be the best of the best at creating a positive impact.”
Each honored company is a Certified B Corporation. They use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems and have met rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Today there are more than 990 certified B Corporations, across 60 industries and 32 countries, unified by one common goal: to redefine success in business.
B Lab released the “Best for the World” list (overall impact) in March and will release separate lists recognizing the companies "Best for the Community" (community impact), and "Best for Workers" (employee impact) throughout 2014.
11 Midsize Businesses Honorees (50+ Employees)
GoLite (Boulder, CO)—GoLite is the premier global manufacturer of high performance, responsible apparel and equipment designed specifically for outdoor athletes.
Method Products, PBC (CA)—Method is the pioneer of premium environmentally-conscious and design-driven home care, fabric care and personal care products.
Namaste Solar (CO)—Namasté Solar is an employee-owned cooperative that designs, installs and maintains solar electric systems for homes, businesses, nonprofits and government entities.
New Belgium Brewing Co, Inc. (CO)—New Belgium Brewing, maker of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a wide variety of award-winning beers, is the third-largest craft brewer in the country.
Patagonia, Inc. (CA)—Patagonia grew out of a small company that made tools for climbers. Alpinism remains at the heart of a worldwide business that still makes clothes for climbing—as well as for skiing, snowboarding, surfing, fly fishing, paddling and trail running.
Positive Energy Solar (NM)—Positive Energy Solar is local, employee owned, and the only solar company in New Mexico that is a certified B-Corp.
Seventh Generation (VT)—Seventh Generation is a leading brand of green household and personal care products. The company remains an independent, privately-held company distributing products to natural food stores, supermarkets, mass merchants and online retailers across the U.S. and Canada.
Solberg Manufacturing, Inc. (IL)—Solberg manufactures standard and custom filtration, separation and silencing products that protect machinery, the surrounding environment and the workplace.
Sungevity (CA)—Sungevity is the nation’s fastest growing residential solar company that designs, installs and finances residential solar electric systems.
WasteZero, Inc. (NC)—WasteZero partners with more than 800 towns and cities around the country to reduce the amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) that is landfilled and burned.
West Paw Design (MT)—West Paw Design is a U.S. manufacturer of eco-friendly and high-quality products for dogs and cats.
25 Small Businesses Honorees (10-49 Employees)
Acorn Sign Graphics (VA)—Acorn Sign Graphics designs and fabricates custom architectural signage and graphics. From award-winning design to sustainable sign and graphic solutions, eco-friendly sign manufacturing to long-lasting installations, Acorn Sign Graphics delivers comprehensive sign services to meet the needs of clients worldwide.
Advanced Home Energy (CA)—Advanced Home Energy partners with homeowners who are interested in going green and offer a wide range of home energy efficiency solutions.
Alchemy Goods (WA)—Alchemy Goods strives to turn useless stuff like blown-out inner tubes, old seatbelts and advertising banners into useful products like bags and wallets.
Brightworks (OR)—Brightworks provides comprehensive sustainability planning and facilitation services, helping their clients increase asset value, reduce operating costs, manage risk and enhance their brand, while helping address pressing global ecological challenges.
Britec Ltda. (Santiago, Chile)—Britec LTDA., has a factory of solar collectors in Chile in the Colina 1 Prison.
Bullfrog Power (Toronto, ON)—Bullfrog Power’s mission is to provide Canadians with easy and practical 100 percent renewable energy solutions for their homes, businesses and transportation that empower them to create a sustainable world for future generations.
ChicoBag Company (CA)—ChicoBag advocates for waste reduction and designs a collection of high-quality, long-lasting reusable bags.
Cultiva Empresa (Santiago, Chile)—Cultiva Empresa has developed several reforestation projects in Santiago, totaling 40.5 hectares reforested.
Degraf Ltda. (Santiago, Chile)—DEGRAF is a family business that began operations in 1982 with the objective to recycle waste from the printing industry.
Emory Knoll Farms (MD)—Emory Knoll Farms is the only nursery in the U.S. that is dedicated solely to the propagation of plants for the green roof industry.
Green Building Services (OR)—Green Building Services provides services and tools to support the design, construction and operation of buildings that are responsible, enduring and healthy.
Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods (HI)—Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods (HLH) plants rare high value endemic koa trees on Hawaii Island. Some trees are planted for investors for eventual harvest, while others—“Legacy Trees”—are planted to permanently reforest the land, sequester carbon, advance science and inspire environmental awareness.
Highland Craftsmen, Inc. (NC)—Highland Craftsmen Inc. designs, manufactures and sells all-natural Bark House® brand architectural elements to building, design and furniture professionals as well as individuals.
Icebox Knitting, LLC (CA)—Icebox Knitting seeks to change the historically detrimental procedures of the textile industry by supporting sustainable practices with emphasis on local sourcing and production in closer proximity of the end consumer.
IceStone (NY)—IceStone® is the world’s safest, most sustainable durable surface. Made from three core ingredients—100 percent recycled glass, Portland cement and pigment—IceStone® surfaces are used for everything from kitchen counter tops to conference room tables to art installations.
Indigenous Designs Corporation (CA)—Indigenous Designs is a leader in organic and fair trade clothing. Their clothing supports thousands of artisans in the most remote and impoverished regions of the world
Microgrid Energy, LLC (MO)—Microgrid Solar is a solar PV developer and EPC contractor based in St. Louis, MO, offering turnkey solar services for commercial, government and residential clients.
Natural Systems Utilities (NJ)—Natural Systems Utilities, LLC is an innovative water asset management company that designs, builds, owns and operates decentralized and distributed water delivery, treatment and reuse infrastructure.
New Leaf Paper (CA)—New Leaf Paper develops office and printing papers with leading environmental specifications and distributes them throughout North America.
Preserve (MA)—Preserve is the leading sustainable consumer goods company and producer of stylish 100 percent recycled household products.
Solmetric Corporation (CA)—Solmetric Corporation is a test and measurement company that designs and manufactures tools for the solar installation industry.
SunCommon (VT)—SunCommon’s purpose is to dramatically increase solar energy production in Vermont by eliminating the huge upfront costs and replacing them with a monthly payment that is the same or less than what Vermonters are currently paying their utility for electricity.
The Joinery (OR)—With a focus on both design and construction, The Joinery and its artisans endeavor to create furniture that will last for generations.
The Paradigm Project (CO)—The Paradigm Project is a low-profit limited liability company operating in cooperation with The Paradigm Foundation, whose collective mission is to create sustainable economic, social and environmental value within developing world communities.
TotalPET Corp (San Jose, Costa Rica)—TotalPET Corp recycles PET (a type of plastic used to create beverage bottles) to create packaging and prevent the plastic from ending up as waste.
48 Micro-Enterprises Honorees (<10 Employees)
Acción Verde (Bogota, Colombia)—Accion Verde is a Colombian for-profit enterprise that plants trees to promote reforestation in Colombia.
Alima Cosmetics, Inc. (OR)—Alima Pure™ makes mineral makeup using only the purest cosmetic-grade mineral pigments.
Animal Experience International (ON, Canada)—Animal Experience International (AEI) has a mission to help animals around the globe by matching clients with animal-related volunteer opportunities at sanctuaries, wildlife hospitals, animal clinics and conservation projects.
Atayne, LLC (ME)—Atayne makes high-performing outdoor and athletic apparel from 100 percent recycled materials.
Best Energy (Santiago, Chile)—Best Energy is creating economic value through social and environmental responsibility. They provide solar water heating for social housing through gubernamental subsidies.
BluPlanet Recycling Inc. (AB, Canada)—BluPlanet Recycling Inc. is a Calgary-based multi-family residential and commercial recycling collection service provider.
Climatesmart Business, Inc. (BC, Canada)—Climate Smart is a social enterprise that trains businesses and provides them with software tools to track and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Cool Energy, Inc. (CO)—Cool Energy's SolarHeart Engine captures waste heat that an industrial site, commercial process or power generator is already emitting, and turns it into clean and renewable electricity, recycled thermal energy or mechanical energy.
Cultivating Capital (CA)—Cultivating Capital is a business consulting firm that helps entrepreneurs and small business owners, especially women business owners, go green and market their businesses online.
Ditto Hangers (CA)—Ditto features a growing line of 100 percent sustainable hangers, signage, POP displays, packaging and accessory displays.
Dolphin Blue, Inc. (TX)—Dolphin Blue is an online retailer of ecologically sustainable products for use in commercial and home offices.
Eco-Bags Products (NY)—ECOBAGS® is a small, woman-owned business with a history of creating well-constructed, responsibly- and ethically-produced reusable bags of all kinds using natural, recycled and organic materials.
Ecologic Designs Inc. / Green Guru (CO)—Ecologic Designs works with organizations to manufacture OEM, Private Label and Co-Branded consumer products made from their waste materials or materials they’ve previously reclaimed.
EcoLogic Solutions Inc. (NY)—EcoLogic Solutions Inc.'s purpose is to introduce the safest, effective and cost competitive cleaning products to mass consumers.
Ecoservice (São Paulo, Brazil)—Ecoservice operates with the goal of being a benchmark in sustainable products, systems and services for the building industry.
Ecotrust Forest Management (OR)—Ecotrust Forest Management is a forestland investment management and advisory services company that generates long-term value for both investors and society by facilitating positive environmental outcomes and supporting job creation in rural communities.
Eleek (OR)—Eleek is a sustainable design and manufacturing business specializing in high-style lighting and other decorative building parts.
Energy Opportunities (PA)—Energy Opportunities, Inc. provides technical consulting services on projects relating to energy management, efficiency and conservation, renewable energy systems and the environmental impacts of human enterprises.
Episencial (CA)—Episencial combines advanced skin care technology with Actively Healthy™ ingredients including probiotics, neem oil and botanically-sourced essential fatty acids and antioxidants to enhance skin immunity and defend against daily environmental challenges from water, sun and air.
Feronia Forests LLC (MA)—Feronia's mission is to acquire and to sustainably manage natural hardwood forest properties in the U.S. The company generates revenues from timber harvests, conservation easements, carbon offsets, renewable energy and products of the forest.
Honeyman Sustainability Consulting, LLC (CA)—Honeyman Sustainability Consulting, LLC, helps businesses save money, add value to their brand and cultivate happier and more committed employees—while reducing their impact on the environment.
Incite Directives (Atlanta, GA)—Incite Directives works with businesses and building owners to integrate sustainability into the cultural cloth of their organizations, beginning with facilities and operations.
Just Right Recycling (Abbotsford, BC)—Just Right Recycling is a metal recycling company providing efficient bin services to industry.
Linhardt Design (NY)—Linhardt Design is a New York-based fine and fashion jewelry house that is revolutionizing the industry with its extraordinary designs coupled with socially and environmentally responsible practices.
Luscious Garage (CA)—Luscious Garage specializes in hybrid auto repair and applies the "hybrid" paradigm to everything it does: minimizing environmental impact, promoting advanced technology and working together with customers to meet their needs.
mas ambiente s.a. (Mendoza, Argentina)—Mas ambiente manufactures eco-friendly soaps made with 100 percent recycled cooking oil.
Piedmont Biofuels (NC)—Piedmont Biofuels is a community scale biodiesel operation which collects used cooking oil from area food service establishments and converts it into a clean burning renewable fuel.
Project Repat (MA)—Project Repat upcycles t-shirts into fun and fashionable clothing accessories while creating jobs.
Proyecto Importa (Santiago, Chile)—Proyecto Importa seeks to transform penitentiary labor and social spaces into workshops, which will promote the inclusion of socially vulnerable individuals while developing sustainable products.
Rain Water Solutions, Inc. (NC)—RainWater Solutions manufactures and distributes the 65-gallon Moby rain barrel. They also design and install above- and below-ground rainwater harvesting equipment.
Reciclarg S.A. (Mendoza, Argentina)—Reciclarg seeks to generate awareness of the electronic waste cycle.
REfficient Inc. (Hamilton, ON)—REfficient is an online marketplace where businesses can go shopping in other companies’ surplus inventory.
Resonate LLC (PA)—Resonate LLC is a strategic sustainability consulting firm that helps companies to enhance brand, profitability and company value by integrating social and environmental factors into their business model and performance measurement.
Rivanna Natural Designs, Inc. (VA)—Rivanna Natural Designs creates awards, plaques and gifts made from FSC-certified woods, bamboo, recycled glass and other planet-friendly materials.
Route to Green SPA (Santiago, Chile)—R2G's mission is to make a variety of affordable products and services consistent with the protection of the environment in Chile and Latin America.
Saul Good Gift Co (Vancouver, BC)—Saul Good Gift Co. uses corporate gifts to communicate values around sustainability, local purchasing (to Vancouver, BC), and community engagement to build powerful relationships for its clients.
Seeds Printing (PA)—Seeds is a green printing company comprised of environmentally conscious, creative professionals with years of experience in the fields of printing, design, marketing, writing and editing, and world-class customer service.
SLOWCOLOR (CA)—SLOWCOLOR is an integrated bottom line high-impact clothing enterprise committed to revitalizing the use of age-old traditions to dramatically reduce the social, environmental and health impacts of textile manufacturing.
SMART Watering Systems Inc. (Milton, ON)—SMART Watering Systems is a water efficiency consulting firm and a "hands on" irrigation water management company that works with municipalities, parks departments, architects and property managers to reduce potable water use on landscapes.
Solar States (PA)—Solar States develops solar projects on schools, homes and commercial buildings, as well as connecting Philadelphia students with the green-collar economy through training and jobs.
Spotlight Solar, LLC (NC)—Spotlight Solar makes solar systems that look like sculpture. Their products are intended to complement other environmental investments, like rooftop solar systems, which are usually hidden from the public on flat office building roofs.
Staach (NY)—Staach strives to create the finest modern handcrafted furniture using only sustainable methods and materials.
TerraLocke, Inc. (IL)—TerraLocke is a sustainability consulting firm focusing on local communities.
TerraPass (CA)—TerraPass’ projects help businesses and individuals reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change by generating renewable energy and destroying greenhouse gases (GHGs).
TheGreenOffice.com (CA)—TheGreenOffice.com is a one-stop online retailer featuring more than 34,000 green and conventional office products and a comprehensive range of sustainability services designed to make office greening easy and cost effective.
Waste To Green, LLC (NC)—Waste To Green provides electronic waste/e-waste recycling services to businesses, individuals and government looking to minimize their carbon footprint through ethical, responsible and secure recycling of their old electronics and IT assets.
Yellow Leaf Hammocks (CA)—Yellow Leaf Hammocks are 100 percent hand-woven, customizable hammocks that offer customers supreme comfort, strength and durability, along with a commitment to cultivating a sustainable economic opportunity for marginalized ethnic groups like the endangered Mlabri Tribe.
Zero to Go (NY)—Zero to Go provides a removal service in which unwanted items are transferred directly to people in need. Their sustainable removal services address the needs of the community by ensuring useable materials stay local and out of the waste stream.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Tom Duszynski
The coronavirus is certainly scary, but despite the constant reporting on total cases and a climbing death toll, the reality is that the vast majority of people who come down with COVID-19 survive it. Just as the number of cases grows, so does another number: those who have recovered.
In mid-March, the number of patients in the U.S. who had officially recovered from the virus was close to zero. That number is now in the tens of thousands and is climbing every day. But recovering from COVID-19 is more complicated than simply feeling better. Recovery involves biology, epidemiology and a little bit of bureaucracy too.
How does your body fight off COVID-19?<p>Once a person is exposed the coronavirus, the body starts producing <a href="https://www.mblintl.com/products/what-are-antibodies-mbli/" target="_blank">proteins called antibodies to fight the infection</a>. As these <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/27/serological-tests-reveal-immune-coronavirus/" target="_blank">antibodies start to successfully contain the virus</a> and keep it from replicating in the body, symptoms usually begin to lessen and you start to feel better. Eventually, if all goes well, your immune system will completely destroy all of the virus in your system. A person who was infected with and survived a virus with no long-term health effects or disabilities has "recovered."</p><p>On average, a person who is infected with SARS-CoV-2 will feel ill for about seven days from the onset of symptoms. Even after symptoms disappear, there still may be small amounts of the virus in a patient's system, and they should stay <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html" target="_blank">isolated for an additional three days</a> to ensure they have truly <a href="https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/coronavirus-recovery-what-to-know" target="_blank">recovered and are no longer infectious</a>.</p>
What about immunity?<p>In general, once you have recovered from a viral infection, your body will keep cells called lymphocytes in your system. These cells "remember" viruses they've previously seen and can react quickly to fight them off again. If you are exposed to a virus you have already had, your antibodies will likely stop the virus before it starts causing symptoms. <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.5114%2Fceji.2018.77390" target="_blank">You become immune</a>. This is the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK27158/" target="_blank">principle behind many vaccines</a>.</p><p>Unfortunately, immunity isn't perfect. For many viruses, like mumps, immunity can wane over time, leaving you <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160421145747.htm" target="_blank">susceptible to the virus in the future</a>. This is why you need to get revaccinated – those "booster shots" – occasionally: to prompt your immune system to make more antibodies and memory cells.</p><p>Since this coronavirus is so new, scientists still don't know whether people who recover from COVID-19 are <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/faq.html" target="_blank">immune to future infections of the virus</a>. Doctors are finding antibodies in ill and recovered patients, and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-guidance-management-patients.html" target="_blank">that indicates the development of immunity</a>. But the question remains how long that immunity will last. Other coronaviruses like <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/jmv.25685" target="_blank">SARS and MERS produce an immune response</a> that will protect a person at least for a short time. I would suspect the same is true of SARS-CoV-2, but the research simply hasn't been done yet to say so definitively.</p>
Why have so few people officially recovered in the US?<p>This is a dangerous virus, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is being extremely careful when deciding what it means to recover from COVID-19. Both medical and testing criteria must be met before a person is <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/disposition-in-home-patients.html" target="_blank">officially declared recovered</a>.</p><p>Medically, a person must be fever-free without fever-reducing medications for three consecutive days. They must show an improvement in their other symptoms, including reduced coughing and shortness of breath. And it must be at least seven full days <a href="https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/coronavirus-recovery-what-to-know" target="_blank">since the symptoms began</a>.</p><p>In addition to those requirements, the CDC guidelines say that a person must test negative for the coronavirus twice, with the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/care-for-someone.html" target="_blank">tests taken at least 24 hours apart</a>.</p><p>Only then, if both the symptom and testing conditions are met, is a person officially considered recovered by the CDC.</p><p>This second testing requirement is likely why there were so few official recovered cases in the U.S. until late March. Initially, there was a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/health/coronavirus-test-shortages-face-masks-swabs.html" target="_blank">massive shortage of testing in the U.S.</a> So while many people were certainly recovering over the last few weeks, this could not be officially confirmed. As the country enters the height of the pandemic in the coming weeks, focus is still on <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/clinical-criteria.html" target="_blank">testing those who are infected</a>, not those who have likely recovered.</p><p>Many more people are being tested now that states and private companies have begun <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/testing-in-us.html" target="_blank">producing and distributing tests</a>. As <a href="https://www.dispatch.com/news/20200406/coronavirus-in-ohio-from-its-rocky-start-testing-for-covid-19-slowly-ramping-up" target="_blank">the number of available tests increases</a> and the pandemic eventually slows in the country, more testing will be available for those who have appeared to recover. As people who have already recovered are tested, the appearance of any new infections will help researchers learn <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/24/we-need-smart-coronavirus-testing-not-just-more-testing/" target="_blank">how long immunity can be expected to last</a>.</p>
Once a person has recovered, what can they do?<p>Knowing whether or not people are immune to COVID-19 after they recover is going to determine what individuals, communities and society at large can do going forward. If scientists can show that recovered patients are immune to the coronavirus, then a person who has recovered could in theory <a href="https://www.vox.com/2020/3/30/21186822/immunity-to-covid-19-test-coronavirus-rt-pcr-antibody" target="_blank">help support the health care system</a> by caring for those who are infected.</p><p>Once communities pass the peak of the epidemic, the number of new infections will decline, while the number of <a href="https://www.newsweek.com/china-says-passed-peak-coronavirus-epidemic-covid-19-1491863" target="_blank">recovered people will increase</a>. As these trends continue, the risk of transmission will fall. Once the risk of transmission has fallen enough, community-level isolation and social distancing orders will begin to relax and businesses will start to reopen. Based on what other countries have gone through, it will be <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00154-w" target="_blank">months until the risk of transmission is low</a> in the U.S.</p><p>But before any of this can happen, the U.S. and the world need to make it through the peak of this pandemic. Social distancing works to slow the spread of infectious diseases and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/what-you-can-do.html" target="_blank">is working for COVID-19</a>. Many people will <a href="https://www.yalemedicine.org/stories/2019-novel-coronavirus/" target="_blank">need medical help to recover</a>, and social distancing will slow this virus down and give people the best chance to do so.</p>
By Elizabeth Claire Alberts
The future for the world's oceans often looks grim. Fisheries are set to collapse by 2048, according to one study, and 8 million tons of plastic pollute the ocean every year, causing considerable damage to delicate marine ecosystems. Yet a new study in Nature offers an alternative, and more optimistic view on the ocean's future: it asserts that the entire marine environment could be substantially rebuilt by 2050, if humanity is able to step up to the challenge.
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By Zulfikar Abbany
Bread has been a source of basic nutrition for centuries, the holy trinity being wheat, maize and rice. It has also been the reason for a lot of innovation in science and technology, from millstones to microbiological investigations into a family of single-cell fungi called Saccharomyces.
Chemical leavening<p>If you like a little heft in your loaf, you will need a leavening agent.</p><p>For those short on time, you can use baking soda. That's a chemical compound of sodium bicarbonate mixed with potassium bitartrate, or cream of tartar.</p><p>Soda breads have their traditions in parts of eastern and central Europe, and in Ireland and Scotland, with Melrose loaves and "farls."</p><p>They can taste a bit bland, though, and are often considered only as an emergency solution on Sundays. No disrespect intended: They taste just fine fresh from the oven.</p><p>Whether it's chemical or more "natural," leavening relies largely on the production of carbon dioxide.</p><p>When you mix an acid, such as vinegar, buttermilk, yogurt or apple cider, with an alkaline compound like baking soda, you get CO2. That CO2 creates bubbles, which in turn capture steam in the oven and allow a bread to rise.</p><p><span></span>But it's better with yeast. Tastes better, too. It just takes more time. </p>
What is yeast?<p>There are yeasts all around us — on grains, in the air, in biofuels. It even lives inside us, but that's not always a good thing.</p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1090575/pdf/1471-2334-5-22.pdf" target="_blank">Candida yeast</a> can cause infections of the skin, feet, mouth, penis or vagina if it builds up too much in the body.</p><p>One of the most common yeasts, however, is <em>Saccharomyces cerevisiae</em>. That's <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/an-early-beer-archaeologists-tap-ground-at-worlds-oldest-brewery/a-45480731" target="_blank">"brewer's"</a> or "baker's" yeast.</p><p>You can get fresh baker's yeast, often in 42-gram (1.48-ounce) cubes, or as dried yeast (quick action or active, which requires rehydration) in a sachet of 7 grams.</p><p>There's little difference: One is compressed and the other is dehydrated and granulated. But they do the same thing, essentially. </p><p>Some commercial yeast producers add molasses and other nutrients. But natural yeast has plenty of useful nutrients in it anyway, including B group vitamins, so who knows whether it's good or necessary to add them. </p>
How does yeast work?<p>When you mix flour, yeast and water, you set off a veritable chain reaction. Enzymes in the wheat convert starch into sugar. And the yeast creates enzymes of its own to convert those sugars into a form it can absorb.</p><p>The yeast "feeds" on the sugars to create carbon dioxide and alcohol. The yeast burps and farts, releasing gases into the mix, and that creates bubbles to trap CO2. </p><p>It's a vital fermentation process that breaks down the gluten in the flour and helps make your bread more digestible.</p><p>The yeast cells split and reproduce, generating lactic and carbonic acid, raising the temperature and ultimately adding flavor to the mix.</p><p>The longer you leave the yeast to do its thing, the better for your bread. Time is more important than the amount of yeast. </p><p>In fact, that's an enduring question — how much yeast? I'll use 20 grams fresh yeast for 500 grams of flour. Others say that's enough yeast for 1 kilo. If you are converting a dry-yeast recipe to fresh yeast, some bakers advise tripling the weight. So, if a sachet of dried yeast is 7 grams, your fresh yeast is 21 grams.</p><p><span></span>But that also depends on the flours you are using, temperatures in the bowl and the room, and a host of other things. You'll just have to experiment and see. No number of books (and I've read a stack on bread) will help as much as trial and error.</p>
Wild yeast: Sourdough<p>So, good bread needs time. If you have a lot of time, why not move it up a notch and grow wild yeast — a sourdough starter — in your own home?</p><p>A sourdough starter is not to be mistaken (as it often is) for the leaven, or "mother," "sponge," or <em>levain</em>. That's more a second stage, a descendant of the starter. You take a scoop from your starter and add it to another flour and water mixture when you prepare the dough for a new loaf. </p><p>The sourdough process utilizes yeasts naturally present in flour and … yet more time. A longer fermentation process allows a richer lactic acid bacteria <em>lactobacilli</em> or LAB to evolve, and that can be healthy for your gut microbiome.</p><p>It's simple enough to start a sourdough starter. All you need is flour, warm water and time.</p><p>Some suggest equal measures of whole-grain flour and water at 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit), some say room temperature — just don't let the water exceed 40 C or the yeasts will die. Some suggest two parts flour to three parts water. But it's up to you whether you want a drier or wetter starter. You will know only through experimentation. </p><p>Some say you should filter tap water to remove chemicals like fluoride and avoid using water that's boiled and then cooled. Others say that really doesn't matter.</p><p>The main thing is, keep it clean and give it time. Days, weeks, months and years.</p>
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