From Time to time we hope to bring you stories about former prisoners who have made it in the free world. Dave Dahl is a great place to start.
When I hear the phrase “organic bread,” I think of a funky, hairy person in sandals toiling away proudly in a heated adobe hut someplace in, oh, say, Vermont. I usually don’t think of a methamphetamine addict — does he even eat? — let alone a convict serving hard prison time. Which is why I was surprised to discover that one of the best commercially available organic breads — in my opinion — is manufactured by a convicted felon and former meth addict from Oregon named Dave Dahl.
Burned by the overabundance of starchy, cakey, sugary, overprocessed white bread that found itself on my dinner table, I quit bread for six months, but was lured back in recent weeks by Dave’s Killer Bread, founded in 2005 by Dahl after he had finished serving the last of 15 years in the big house. (His brother Glenn, who owns Nature Bake breads, managed to avoid prison and co-founded Dave’s Killer Bread with him. They are the Whitey and Billy Bulger of bread-making.) Dahl was a dealer and a serious thug, according to the video on his Web site, and after he got out the last time, he decided to return to his family roots and bake bread. I defy you not to cry, or place bets he’ll be on Oprah soon, while watching his story.
Compared to other commercially available loaves, Dave’s Bread has more protein, fewer carbohydrates and a little less sodium than many. It would be easy to think this is a crunchy gimmick — ex-con does good with organic flour, insuring the triumph of the crunchy Northwest — but Dave’s Killer Bread is actually the best bread I’ve ever bought in a supermarket. (Mine came from a Costco in Boise, Idaho.) The Killer Good Seed loaf is made with organic whole flax, sunflower and black sesame seeds. Unlike other nutty breads I’ve tried, Good Seed manages to remain light and chewy but sturdy enough to hold a substantial sandwich filling. Dahl’s line also includes Killer Blues Bread, rolled in blue cornmeal; Killer Sin Dawg, which combines raisins and oats in a whole-grain cinnamon roll; and Killer Powerseed Bread, sweetened with fruit juice.
There is only one disappointment with Dave’s Killer Bread; it is not available in stores east of Utah. New Yorkers can only buy it online, which sort of goes against the whole notion of organic, earth-loving bread…
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I first tasted Dave’s bread at a 7th Step meeting at Oregon State Penitentiary. The bread is as remarkable as Dave’s own transformation.