May 29, 2012
By Trista Cornelius
After reading about Doctor Kracker crispbreads online, I was mystified. What are crispbreads? How are these of interest to Northwest VEG members?
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to talk with George Eckrich, one of the bakers and founding members of Doctor Kracker, and I have a new understanding of what “artisan” and “sustainable” mean, as well as a renewed faith in value-driven companies like this one to transform America’s health, environment, and economy. It seems rather grandiose for a cracker company, doesn’t it? Well, first of all, they’re not crackers, they’re crispbreads.
Crispbreads, although crispy like a cracker, start out as bread made by bakers using artisan principles. A cracker rises with sodium bicarbonate (baking powder or baking soda), whereas crispbreads start out as bread dough using principles of fermentation (yeast). The dough is rolled out thinly and left to rise, then baked. The crispbread is thicker than a cracker because of the internal structure created by the yeast rising. “It’s like the crust of the bread,” said George.
Even better, the company’s core value mission statement is all about whole grains and seeds, great nutrition through simple ingredients, and every product must be at least 51% whole grain, if not 100%. Over half of their products are vegan, and all but one product are certified organic, which means that “at least 95% is organic. For us, that means the yeast and the rosemary essence are not organic. Otherwise, we are committed to selling organic seeds and grains.”
Although providing nutritious food is the main goal of the company (just wait until you hear why they named themselves Doctor Kracker), they have also put time and resources into recycling all of the heat from the bakery ovens. I didn’t even know this was possible, but they use a heat absorber to capture oven heat, and it is then used for air conditioning and to chill the water supply; all air released from the bakery is purified to reduce C0-2.
Finally, I asked George about the company name. Because they’re from Texas, they had some fun mimicking another Texas company that does not share their core values at all -- Dr. Pepper. Also, the founders are all basketball fans and admired Dr. J (Julius Erving, famous for his slam dunks). The real reason behind the name, however, is this: it harkens back to a time when doctors had “direct interface with their patients,” George explained. “We want to take care of our customers” like an old-fashioned doctor who had an important role in society and time for everybody.
Now you see what I mean about companies like Doctor Kracker transforming America’s health, environment, and economy, right? It’s a tall order for a thick cracker, but the doctor is in and will see you now.
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