Malin Elmlid | Founder, The Bread Exchange
I got a text saying the bread was on its way. I raced downstairs and stood patiently as I watched Malin approach on her bike. After a few words she handed me a loaf of bread, butter and a mango. I went up stairs, sat down and a short moment later I was staring out the window with crumbs beside me and a total satisfaction from what I just experienced. I had just become acquainted with The Bread Exchange, a lifestyle created by Malin.
The Pixel Trade was a very unique experience. I was trading with someone else who trades, and has been doing so for years now. Malin makes the most incredible, unique, yeast free sourdough and trades it for something that you are better at than she is, or something you think she might enjoy. If you live anywhere in the world you NEED to trade with Malin, yes that’s right it’s a necessity. You will never want another bread.
Interview with Malin
Describe your most memorable adventure as a child.
Too many good memories :) Our local gang in “Sjungande Dalen” (the singing valley) on the northern coast of Sweden had a forest where the most magic things seemed to happen. Everything was an adventure back then, wasn’t it? Holding on to this feeling could be one of the keys to happiness I think.
What would you say was the biggest risk you’ve taken in your life?
There were some decisions that one could say were risky. The choice to leave my homeland, to quit an attractive and well paid job to focus full time on trading bread, to leave a relationship. One could see them as risks. But looking back these decisions were involved no risk at all. How could they be failure? They were only changes.
It was probably 10 years ago now, but all the times I hitch hiked could be considered as risky. From Kisumu in Kenya to Mwanza in Tanzania. Or from Berlin to Lago Maggiore. With truck drivers from Stockholm to Amsterdam. And every week when I missed the school bus and didn’t bring money to take a cab. These random meetings were great life lessons. If I had a daughter I would hope she does the same. I just would not want to know about it.
What is the best part about exchanging bread?
That I get triggered by people who want to share their ideas with me. And that this happens almost daily.
What is one of your favourite things that you’ve received from an exchange?
These kind of questions are hard for me to answer. I have made around 1300 loafs for trading by now. It is terribly hard to say what was the best. My most memorable trades are usually not “things”. They are rather a journey or a trigger of an idea of some kind.
I once traded a suitcase from a very old manufacture in the Swedish woods, Alstermo Bruk. It is hard to find such beautiful suitcases nowadays, especially if you want a practical one too. This suitcase has become my most reliable travel companion.
What is the hardest part about exchanging?
To find time. Not only the baking is very time consuming, the coordinating of the trade-meeting is too. I am only able to do trades with people that are open to coordinate their time around mine. Often I wish I had more time to listen to stories.
When was the last time you were most happy?
Most happy? Most? I think it must have been on the short notice roadtrip through Portugal this summer. But as I walked through Zurich airport yesterday, I noticed myself smiling for myself and I remember to reflect that I am really feeling happy. I think that is being truly happy.
When was the last time you were most sad?
The word “most” makes this question hard for me to answer with complete honesty.
If you could teach a group of people one thing, what would it be?
Do I need to know them what I teach? Or can it be what I have realized but still struggle to achieve myself?
I think that one thing I have learned is that failures are not really failures. And that it is my own responsibility to be able to see changes as an advantage. Maybe also you have to know your own value. But still, I believe that the only attitude that really works in life is to give without expecting to get back. With that life attitude you will always be a winner. Maybe not in every single transactions, but in the long run. And everyone around you will benefit too.
What is something you haven’t told someone in a long time?
First I thought I’ll answer “fuck you”. But that is not true, I did say that.
Describe your most memorable adventure as an adult.
I think it must be the journey to Kabul this spring. I had been wanting to go for a long time.
For the Afghan people, bread plays a large role and I learned that the host is serving 1 bread/guest for a meal. For Afghan women the bread often plays an even larger role today as the communal bakeries is one of the few places where they go to meet friends which are not related to the family. These bakeries are only open for women and they meet and chat while their dough is baked in the ground by the, also female, "bread cooker".
I was lucky to get in contact with female bakers and local women and learn to bake from them. To share my bread proved to be a door opener in Kabul, just like as it has been anywhere else where I travelled with my project the Bread Exchange.
If you had to recommend a favourite music album, what would it be?
How could I limit myself to one? But for me the music I hear when I fly is very important. And I think Max Richter is almost always with me. So maybe Blue Notebooks? Or Music for airports by Brian Eno?