Surviving in the Southeast
I can relate to Anna about the southeast region but as it applies to finding good bread on the shelves. The basic bagged bread flours ARE there but you must go to several stores & make sure the exp dates are not close. The speciality flours & some other items I had to order online. The reason I got into baking my own bread is that it is extremely difficult if not impossible to find REAL whole grain breads here in the stores. I never did go for store chain "bakery breads". Yes they have them but the quality is poor and you can tell alot of white flour was used even when it claims to be whole grain along with other undesirable ingredients. When "Sara Lee" is the premium bread on the shelf, you know your're in trouble! (Oh how I miss Great Harvest Bread Co! and Nancy's Yogert). It is a real eye opener all the refined light colored and weight breads in the stores in SC. I did find Rudi's Organic bread in one independent Piggly Wiggly store but it was so expensive I decided to start learning to make my own. They also had Blackstrap molasses (shock!) I bought a jar right up, haa hee. probably should have bought two jars.
Right now I am successfully nursing a sourdough starter made from King Arthur whole wheat flour and pineapple juice that I discovered online from Sourdo lady. I found the King Arthur flour at Publix and later saw it at Walmart but neither have it in the Organic. Walmart had the 2 lb. boxes of different types of flours including rye, but I would make sure the exp dates are not close. I ended up placing several sizable orders of staple baking and food supplies online because there are no "food co-ops", health food stores or gro stores with bulk bins in their nutrition sections here. Sort of like a differnet country in that respect (and others as well I must say). In the Pacific Northwest it was a normal common thing. And dont even think you will find course grind cornmeal here. It was not fresh bordering on stale and more like cake flour than cornmeal. I have passed suggestions on to the mgmt in stores here but I wont hold my breath about seeing any kind of changes in the near future. I would open my own store if I could. I gather that the major gro chains are making more $ with less trouble on the smaller qts of prepacked and usually stale items than offering bulk whole foods. Im sure there must be a certain segment of the pop here that are set in their old ways of eating...white, refined, and worse etc. and how would they ever know a difference if the stores dont make anything else available? and when they occasionally do it is so expenisve and limited no one wants to buy it. Frankly I dont understand why the grocery industry here has not been aware of national trends as the "whole food" concept is not a new thing. I better stop ranting and check on my starter! My first loaf was made was from the back of the King Arthur flour bag using rapid rise yeast and it turned out very well but needed some minor adjustments on my part.