This French Baguette Is a Political Statement

A group of farmers, millers, and bakers believes this 100 percent local product will mobilize voters

All photos by Sono Motoyama
One of the original buildings and a delivery truck at the Moulins Fouché, in La Ferté-Alais, France.

Though the French are still serious bread eaters, their consumption has dropped to a third of what it was in 1950.

“Before, the industries that worked in the Île-de-France were looking for the cheapest price,” he says. “Today the population wants to eat local, they want to know what they’re eating.…For us, that’s a good development, because we’re not just delivering 20 or 30 little bags of flour to an artisan. Here we’re delivering a full 11-ton truck [to industrial customers].”

Philippe Thilloux holding an Essonnienne at his bakery in Morigny-Champigny, France.

What could substantially impact the future of L’Essonnienne is a food law passed last October that will require that public catering contracts be fulfilled with 50 percent local products by 2022.

The $7.7 billion spent serving meals to schools, hospitals, nursing homes, universities, public administrations, as well as the armed services and prisons, represents an enormous potential goldmine for Fouché and other purveyors of local and organic products. French schoolchildren are served multicourse meals in their school cafeterias, which alone accounts for 1 billion meals per year. (The Moulins Fouché will produce flour for both L’Essonnienne and La Baguette des Franciliens. Because Essonne is within the Île-de-France department, Fouché’s flour fulfills specifications for both.)