Why I Do What I Do: Lynn Gordon, Founder And President Of French Meadow Bakery

What is the recipe for success for the founder and president of the country’s first certified organic bakery? Cooking with a consciousness, says Lynn Gordon, a certified macrobiotic cooking teacher who owns the French Meadow Bakery in Minneapolis. Since 1985, the bakery has served organic, yeast-free, and sweetener-free breads, bagels, and pizza crusts made with a natural leavening process. The bakery has been twice named in Bon Appétit as one of the “best bread bakeries” in America.

Q. When did your interest in food and cooking begin?

A. My mother died of ovarian cancer when I was 15. My dad was really committed to health and wanted her to do food therapy, but she opted to have several surgeries and died at 42. I remember my dad talking about juicing, whole grains, and not eating sugar. He really believed my mother could have healed herself with food. That was the beginning of my being really conscious of food. It was a life-defining moment at a really young age.

Q. How did you develop your line of healing, functional breads, such as your Sprouted Woman’s Bread, Healthseed Spelt Bread, Sprouted Healthy Hemp Bread, and Sprouted Men’s Bread?

A. Most of what I’ve done has not been the result of demographic or marketing studies. I’ve followed my intuition and been really conscious of what consumers, like me, want. In fact, the woman’s bread was originally created for my own personal needs. I was on the Zone diet and had almost stopped eating bread. My son was shocked that I was eating energy bars with sugar instead of the healthy bread I had raised him on, and he told me I needed to make low-carb bread.

I started researching high protein sources and phytoestrogens to put in the bread, and Sprouted Woman’s Bread was born, complete with cranberries and soy isoflavones that can help relieve menopause symptoms, lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart disease for women. This bread was everything I needed as a woman but until then wasn’t available to me.

Q. Has the journey been worth the challenges of building a business from scratch?

A. Yes. I’m passionate about organics and about growing my business in an ethical way. I’m passionate about being happy and going to bed at night feeling like what I’ve done, I’ve done in a good way. There are always challenges with work and there are days I feel like I haven’t met my potential. On those days, I always seem to get a few wonderful thank-you letters from our customers and I realize that it’s all OK. I can’t imagine my life playing out any other way.

—Emily Rosenblum