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Byron Shire
December 3, 2021

For the love of loaves

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Not all breads are created equal. Sol Breads entice us back to good grains with their commitment to organic and artisanal practices that make its loaves a crusty cut above.

Bayleaf cafe in Byron Bay sets the stage beautifully for Sol Breads. On a busy Friday morning, inventive and nutritionally forward plates of food float by, many of which revolve around a piece of Sol’s organic wheat, spelt and gluten-free loaves. The scene puts a big smile on the faces of Sol Breads Byron Bay owners Suzanne and Mark Genney, today making a pit- stop on their delivery route to enjoy the kind of vital, health-conscious and locally sourced food that Byron Bay excels in.

The pair moved here from Melbourne almost seven years ago to take over the northern NSW distribution of the handmade, 100 per cent certified organic, natural sourdough breads. ‘Cafes that use our bread typically care about organic food, and these guys are on the same wavelength as we are,’ says Suzanne, fresh from a trip to New York where she completed an organic baking course at Le Pain Quotidien.

‘We’re just all about giving people healthy alternatives. For us it’s made a big difference,’ says Suzanne, whose migraines dramatically reduced and energy increased when she switched to an organic, wholefoods diet.

Bread has become demonised by the health industry in recent years, but the couple point out that Byron is ‘unique in that people are educated about food’. Here, organic wholefoods are revered and shoppers are savvy to food labelling, especially when it comes to gluten-free products that are often highly processed items masquerading as health foods. ‘We’ve always been about fewer ingredients,’ says Suzanne. ‘It’s as healthy as it can get; there’s nothing we can do from a raw ingredient point of view to make it any healthier, and we don’t use machinery.’

Sol’s pioneering gluten-free products are a blessing for coeliacs, yet the quality of its traditional loaves is steering gluten-fearers back towards their daily bread. ‘I think there is that consciousness now of going back to grains such as spelt that have been used for centuries and aren’t chemically treated,’ says Mark. Indeed, artisan breads are far easier on the gut than is your average loaf: Sol’s take 18 hours to make with natural leaven (originally cultivated more than a decade ago in the rainforest surrounding Byron Bay) and are given ample time to rest. ‘Your body just processes it better because it’s half broken down before you even get it, versus a yeasted loaf that’s sped up so quickly that your body can’t process it,’ explains Suzanne.

Digestible new additions include quinoa-based gluten-free and dark sour breads, a soon-to-launch amaranth-based loaf, as well as one with triticale, a nutritious grain that’s a cross between wheat and rye.

‘While we’ve taken feedback from customers and tried new ideas, we haven’t moved away from the core values,’ says Mark. ‘We haven’t put it in super ritzy packaging… it’s still a bit homemade, some of the labels aren’t on straight.’ Adds Suzanne, ‘Sol Breads has always been like that – that’s why we love it!’

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